To Be a Woman

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Jackie wants to be a sailor in a time when females aren't allowed to be sailors. She will do whatever it takes to get what she wants, no matter the consequences.

Submitted: April 27, 2016

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Submitted: April 27, 2016

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She woke up that day, determined to get a job as a sailor. Her brother had been one, and her father had been one, and she saw no reason that she could not be one. Though the laws prevented women from working most jobs besides sewing and mothering, Jackie was determined to set a successful course for her life, even if it was considered unladylike.

Jackie went to the harbour bright and early in hopes of being the first one there. After all, only so many sailors were needed and if you came late in the day, it was unlikely you'd get a decent job or any job at all for that matter. She saw a line of people at the docks, probably for the same reason she was. The line isn't too long, right Jackie.

“Next!” Shouted the harbour master. Jackie stepped forward. Still looking at his papers he said, “name and age.”

“Jackie Michaelson. Age twenty two,” she spoke loudly and confidently.

At the sound of her voice the harbour master looked up from his papers and laughed a cruel, mocking laugh. “Haha, a girl as a sailor. Not only is that against the laws, but you're much too pretty to work yourself that hard.”

Jackie replied, “sailing is what my family does, sir. My father's been teaching me an’ my brother since I was eleven.”

“I can't let you be a sailor, girly,” growled the harbour master. Hiss voice got rougher. His face more cruel. “But if you're so inclined to be in the ocean, I could use a companion on my next voyage. I'm quite a wealthy man you know.”

The look on Jackie’s face morphed from one of annoyance to one of disgust. “I want to be a sailor, not some rich man's whore, you wretched man!” Jackie was screaming now. She stormed off in an outrage, leaving behind a long line of laughing men.

Jackie had never been so humiliated. Although she was embarrassed, she was still determined.

“I can't believe them…” she grumbled. “Only men… stupid harbour master… just wanna be a sailor… I will be a sailor."

When Jackie made it back to her house, she immediately ran to her bedroom and grabbed scissors from her vanity. She took one last lingering look in the mirror at her curly, brown locks. Then she began snipping.

All around Jackie’s feet were bunches of hair. Her once beautiful, silky hair was now as short as any man's. She still had the body and face of a woman though. She took mud from the outside and slathered it on her face so she'd seem dirty and gritty like she'd been working hard. Her hands were rough and calloused, as were many with her long experience, but they were also rather small. Jackie looked at herself in the mirror and thought, I suppose I can pass for a small scrawny man, although… Jackie looked at her chest. No man on a ship would have a body that small and a chest that large.

She searched around for some bandages, then began wrapping them tightly around her chest, until there were no bandages left. Breathing took more effort than normal and Jackie almost passed out. Her chest, while a little pained, was nearly flat. If you didn't know her, you'd have to say she was a he for she did not have a woman's shape, chest, hands, and cleanliness.

I'll have to focus on speaking in a gruff voice, my high pitched one gave me away this morning, thought Jackie. Jackie. Her name was another issue. But how could anyone give up their name? It is a person's identity and one of the things that links them to their family. But Jackie was Hell bent on following her passion. She would be Jackie Michaelson no more. Now she was Jake Jackson, expert sailor.

The following day Jackie went back to the harbour, only as her alter ego Jake. She went through the same process as she had before, only with her new appearance. They took her name and age and noticed her hands, the hands of a laborer. Jake a welcome onto the ship. Jackie almost let out a squeal of delight but thought better of it. The ship soon set sail with Jackie as one of the sailors, the first female sailor.

The captain informed the crew that this was mainly a cargo ship, used for transporting goods. It was not for exploration or adventure, though it could have the dangers of one. The route was marked from London to Paris. To make port in Paris the ship would have to cross Mermaid Ocean, so named because it was filled with beautiful mermaids. That name was only out on maps. Sailors and pirates called the ocean by another name. The Sea of Sirens. The possibility of danger was almost not worth the weeks of sailing that were saved by traversing it.

Little girls and those who had only fantasized but never seen them knew them as mermaids, but anyone who'd survived one of their attacks knew them as sirens. They used their physical beauty and singing to lure men to their deaths. Some even said their deathsong would kill a man even if they, themselves did not. No man could escape them once the singing was heard, sailors just hoped they were the lucky ones and never laid eye nor ear on the sirens.

“Hey, anyone else hear that?” Asked one sailor named Ol’ Pete. He turned eastward.

“Naw, you're just hearin’ things again,” responded another more weathered sailor. “Jake, tell Ol’ Pete he's goin’ crazy!”

Jake responded gruffly, “I don't hear a thing Ol’ Pete.”

“No I definitely heard something… something perfect and wonderful,” said Ol’ Pete.

Gradually all the men stopped tying knots and pulling sails tight. Even the captain seemed not to care. The crew looked eastward and walked towards the ship's port bow. Jackie heard nothing but the waves of the ocean. She looked at the other crewmen, confused. Sure, they weren't the best workers, but for the whole ship to stand still, at what Jackie thought was a phantom noise, something had to be wrong.

“Hey! Captain!” Jackie yelled in her deep, man voice. No response. She ran around to almost a dozen crew members. Shaking them and shouting in their faces did nothing. They got closer and closer to the edge of the boat until some of them were leaning so much Jackie swore they should’ve fallen off. Something had enchanted them.

“Sirens,” whispered Jackie. No sooner had she spoken than had the crewmen begun to disappear. Jackie heard no singing from them only the occasional screech of pleasure when a siren took her prey. All the legends about sirens said they lure men to their deaths, the legends never mention women. I guess women are immune to the deathsong, thought Jackie. She was the only one who could help the sailors now.

Mermaids were jumping up and pulling the sailors down into the murky depths. They were the most beautiful creatures Jackie had ever seen and she could only feel ugly in comparison. They had milky white skin and pearly fish scales. When the sirens grabbed the sailors they did so with elegance and grace. It was terrifying how beautiful they were as they murdered.

Jackie had to think fast. She grabbed an oar and began swinging it wildly, making contact with a siren or two. She didn't hit enough to do any damage. The crew would be gone soon, unless we make ourselves gone, thought Jackie.

She began to climb the mainmast. If she could let down enough sails, maybe the wind would carry the ship faster than the mermaids could swim. The current was fairly strong and the ship had been making decent speed, only one sail was down. That left two for Jackie.

Every second another sailor was being hauled overboard. It took nearly three minutes for Jackie to scale the first mast and untie all the ropes holding the sail up. The large white sail dropped, slamming a siren down on the deck as it did. The siren wriggled and dragged her way off the ship, back into the water.

Jackie swung from the mainmast to the foremast and began the pieces of untying the ropes again. The sail dropped.

The ship picked up speed but the sirens were still singing, still luring men to their deaths. Jackie took the helm and turned the ship away from the Sea of Sirens. Fewer and fewer mermaids got hold of sailors. The ship was too fast for them and Jackie too clever.

The ship made it out of earshot of the sirens. The men looked dazed but began to focus and come to their senses.

“Jackson! Why are you at my helm!” Bellowed the captain.

“There were lovely ladies with heavenly voices…” began Ol’ Pete. “Where'd they go?” He wasn't very bright.

“Those weren't ladies, they were sirens,” Jackie said in her normal voice. “An’ Captain, the names Jackie. I'm the woman who just saved your sorry assess.”


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