Right Away, Great Captain! by Caleb Andrew Ward

My father told my brother and I when we were still too small to see over the bow, “Blood is stronger than the tide.” We took his words to heart years later when our first crewed boat took off from Eastport. The night I killed my brother the wind seemed to whisper of sights eternal and words never uttered. My knife wasn’t as sharp as it used to be and neither were my eyes. Yet my eyes were incisive enough to feel a break in my wedding band. I never saw it happen, but you never see the wind begin to change until you’re knee deep in water. Oh brother, our blood was so thick. My brother had been the captain of our ship for twenty-two years. I had followed his compass as first mate all along the ebb and flow. My wife and I had a son. We named him after my brother. His blood was beginning to harden on my hands as the tide began to shift and the sun started to sizzle. I knew it wouldn’t be long before the crew would awaken to find my life cut in two over the bow. The same bow I stood with the same brother with the same father and heard the same words one of us would betray. Oh brother, our blood was so thick. I felt as though the sea would overtake me before the crew did. His cries were silent and quick. I felt need for him to suffer—yet I could not bear to see it. I can still hear our father yelling over our shoulders as we stood together long ago, “Right ahead, young sailors!” And my brother and I in synchronicity would respond, “Right away, right away great Captain!”

Caleb Andrew Ward is a current Senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Some of his influences include Adam Wilson and John Jeremiah Sullivan. This is his fourth publication with Squawk Back. He is the Prose Editor of Atlantis and the Genre-Bender Editor of Treehouse Magazine.