I moved in with my dad at sixteen. It was an improvement on the physical abuse that I’d suffered at the hands of my mom and her boyfriend, but it wasn’t perfect. On nights that we argued, I’d leave the house and go to the beach. I’d look ahead at the waves, as they clashed into each other and onto the sand. They foamed and they fumed. Sometimes I’d see a ship in the distance. One night, I took one of the bottles of scotch that my dad kept around the house with me on a walk. I drank from the heavy glass bottle as I looked at the waves. The last thing I remember is the pain as I walked into the cold ocean, and how it didn’t matter. I woke up coughing violently. Salt and water threatened to choke me. When I moved my fingertips I felt rough, wet wood underneath me, before someone pulled me up. He wore a tricorn over curly hair. His face was paler than the full night moon. An eye patch covered his right eye. “My lady, are you hurt?” I noticed at once that we were not alone. A dozen men stood around us. “Where am I?” I asked. “Aboard my ship, my lady,” the man before me said. “Am I dead?” “No,” he replied. He smiled, and with that, dimples formed in his cheeks. A warmth flashed through me and I blushed. He held onto both of my hands gently. Bony hands. Pale, slender fingers over my own short and stubby ones. “Can I go home?” I whispered. The black mast loomed overhead and I noticed the skull and cross-bones that decorated it. “Aye, you may,” the captain said. A sadness came over his dark blue left eye, as though I had personally compelled the ocean to be still. “But you do not have to.” “I have to,” I mumbled. “My dad – he will be worried.” “Aye,” the captain smiled, with only one the left corner of his mouth and without the rest of his face. “We shouldn’t take her home, Captain” a huge guy with a peg leg exclaimed. “There’s nothin’ but pain for her there”. Other, indistinguishable voices fell in with his. The ruckus was quieted at once when the handsome captain raised his left hand and said, “quiet.” He looked into my eyes and I saw the ocean behind his. It cobbled on calmly. “If you ever change your mind,” he said. “We will be here for you till the end of times.” I nodded slowly and the captain moved a finger over my cheek. I woke up on the beach the next morning, dry and safe, the sand like a warm blanket underneath me. I see the ship every night that I go to the beach now. Now I can make out the skull and bones on the flag. Whenever I feel sad, I remember that a home awaits me just a short dive away.