John’s picked at the side of his thumb where a callus ran from fingernail to palm. He had prepared for this journey, the coarse skin acted as his reminder. Yet the wooden dock still creaked as he shifted his weight from foot to foot; the ship looked smaller in person.
He had read of the journey over a cup of steaming hot water. Tea had been the cheapest option on the menu but John hated tea, so he kept the leaves on the side of the dish. The steam warmed his lips as he read the newspaper over-the-shoulder of a man who could afford three times his cup of tea.
Help Wanted – Hazardous Journey, moderate pay
Under the text was a single image of a sailboat flying over the clouds. John stared, questions falling in and out of his mind before he could even think of answers.
Was it an artistic depiction? A symbol of sort? A fiction? A truth?
He was trained a sailor but hated the sea, a travesty – but the clouds. John’s feet moved before he could stop them. The man with three plates that smelled of honeyed meats and fresh croquette turned to him mid-chew. It was only then that John realized, he had tapped on the shoulder of this other patron.
Except, John was hardly a patron and the waiter glared from the corner at his lack of sense.
It was true, he was senseless, but now he was here.
“May I have that ad,” he added, after a pause, “sir?”
The waiter started towards him and the patron chewed with slit eyes but, after a moment of consideration, he ripped the ad out of the newspaper and handed it to John.
Now he was here, on a rickety dock looking at a ship that was much too small to fly. But what did John know about flying ships?
“Help wanted!” A voice shouted from inside its confines. “All aboard that’s coming aboard.”
John clenched his palm into a fist and stepped forward.