Full Fathom Five (Story by Risa Peris)

I let her lifeless body sink full fathom five. The Shakespearean reference was not lost on me. We had a collection of his plays on board the ship. She cared not at all about the books. She was enamored of the rigging – the vast system of ropes that controlled the sails. She was an Eskimo and knew only the kayak. We brought her onboard The Knut near Greenland. She seemed to have as much desire for adventure as my crew. Lt. Anderrson took a strong liking to her and he had been in such a low mood since leaving Iceland that I allowed the Eskimo woman on board. She never really smiled and had little interest in anything other than the dogs on board, Lt. Anderrson, and the rigging. When we left Greenland we had bad luck. Gale force winds pushed heavily against our sails and our engine chugged as if chomping through the sand. One night I heard the Eskimo woman sing in that strange way as the Eskimos did. They seemed not to use their tongues but sing from their throat. I remembered being in the opera house in Paris. Now that was beauty. What the Eskimo woman was doing was an abomination. I went on board, minus fifty weather, and hushed her infernal singing. She had a strange look on her face and I had a bad premonition she had cursed me. As we navigated the Arctic in the torrid weather I used a kedge to reposition the boat. And yet, the boat continued to pitch and yaw. Sometimes we came dangerously close to the shoals. As the storm raged on we began to keel and then we dumped supplies to lessen the weight on the boat. The Eskimo woman watched with dead eyes as she gripped a wooden pole.

Sorenson came to me. “The Eskimo is bad luck.”

Bad luck meant the destruction of the crew and ship. I gave orders to Sorenson to kill her. But quietly. A dagger straight into her heart. Sorenson did it and we wrapped her in a tarp and pushing her overboard near the anchor we lowered when we reached a safe haven from the tremendous wind. The Eskimo woman sunk silently. Deep into the water. A full fathom five. Lt. Anderrson came looking for her.

“She fell into the water,” I said. Anderrson wept and retreated into the ship library. I assumed he was consulting the Bible.

But it worked. Throwing the Eskimo woman overboard cleared the sky and we were able to proceed through the waters safely. However, one evening, near the coast of Alaska, I heard that infernal singing. I rushed to the top but nothing was to be seen on deck in the placid waters other than the dogs whining and howling. Something had then spooked as well.

Years later, I was at the Paris Opera and a beautiful opera singer took to the stage but all I could hear was the throat singing by the Eskimo. I was being haunted. I had a wild thought of pulling her body from the deep. I went to my hotel, loaded a pistol, and shot myself. I am now back on The Knut staring at the Eskimo woman for eternity. You can’t kill without an effect. If given the choice again, I would never kill.


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