The sky was the colour of Sarah's thoughts, grey and cold. Dampness hung over the wharf and the water reflected the brooding sky. Groups of people bustled past with bags and suitcases. Lone men strode around with jaunty hats and canes.
It's a dismal farewell from the Emerald Isle, my land of birth, my heritage. It's befitting of the occasion, the end of life as it should be, life as I know it.
An air of excitement tried to impose itself on the families waiting to board 'The Lady Melrose'. A man was whistling and two children chased one another round and round. But Sarah stood stony-faced and angry next to her parents and brother, waiting for her childhood to end.
This is how tragedy begins. It's the leaving behind of all that is precious, everything familiar. I'm the red-haired heroine, the damsel who loses all for the sake of others. I am being plucked from my homeland and set upon the high seas to voyage to a cheerless land.
A sound pulled her from her thoughts. It was the ship's horn. People were speaking around her and to her and and she was jostled along towards the ship.
The horn of doom. It is sounding the death knell for my old life.
'Come on Sarah, me lass. Help your mother with the bags,' boomed the cheery voice of her father. They streamed, with the crowd, up the gangplank onto the ship.
'Let's find our cabin. It's going to be fun,' chirped James, her young brother.
Sarah's feet did the walking and her arms carried the bags but her heart was away at the home she was leaving behind.
I'm a maiden plucked from my native isle by cruel fate, to never return. I have been ripped from my destiny to roam the world, a lonely woman.
'One wardrobe and two drawers, between us all,' noted her mother. 'It's a good thing we had most things stored below.'
Her father beamed. 'What a dear little cabin. This will be our home for the next three months. My dear family. Off on our big adventure, sailing to a new land.'
Sailing from life. Squashed like sardines. There's nothing about this that I'm going to like. No-one understands. I'm being propelled forward into a vacuum of loss.
'Let's go out on deck and watch as we leave Gladeir,' suggested her father. 'Let's bid our farewells to our old homeland.'
So the family climbed to the deck and watched as the ship pulled away from the dock. Its steam blew past them and hung lazily in the air, mingling with its grey. The horn sounded out and the wharf grew smaller and smaller.
'Australia here we come!' enthused Sarah's father. 'Next thing is dinner, in the dining room. This is going to be a real experience. Follow me.' He strode off and the family trailed behind.
Dinner was passable, I admit. Beef and gravy, then steamed pudding. One ray of light in the darkness of my tragedy.
The night came quickly and the family decided on an early night. The beds were bunks and James claimed the top one. Sarah took the bottom one.
Who cares where I sleep now that I'm a wandering soul? Material things matter no more.
She lay awake and listened to the hum of the engine. The rest of the family were soon asleep and Sarah let her thoughts take hold. Tears welled up and she sobbed quietly under her blankets.
Why do we have to go? Why can't Dad and Mum see what they're doing? How can a new country ever be home?
The engine hummed and throbbed rhythmically. It was a soothing sound. It seemed to say, 'Come on, keep on, come with us, stay with us.'
Sarah hauled herself up the bed and lay facing the bunk above her, feeling the gentle movements of the ship, listening to it breathe. She thought back to her happiest time and how she had made God a promise. She heard the engine's hum sing a new refrain, 'I'm here with you. I'll always be with you.' She knew that voice and she knew what she should do. She prayed silently.
Dear Father in heaven, I want to live for you in my new life in Australia. Help me to look forward to what you have in store for me. Amen.
As the ship's engine hummed its tune she smiled and slipped into sleep.
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