You see a shooting star
The ship had left Marseilles in the late afternoon, which had become one of those drawn out twilights so particular to the Mediterranean, where it seems as if the earth is holding her breath, afraid to disturb the beauty. Bucky had the engines singing along at a steady thrum. The oars slipped soundlessly into the water, moving the ship forward in a gliding motion not unlike a waltz. From his perch in the fo’c’sle, Captain Graves surveyed his domain, resplendent in coat and shirtfront, his angelic white hair oiled to a gleam, and his acclaimed sangfroid poised to match.
Passengers and employees navigated the decks below Connor’s vantage with a graceful dancing motion as they accommodated themselves to the unique rocking produced by 400 oars stroking loving fingers across the face of the sea. The evening was too young for any revelry to have developed. Before long, the bell would ring announcing the hour to dress for dinner; the first night of a new journey was typically greeted with a high formal dinner. For now, guests were content to explore the ship and learn her ways.
As the sun tipped into the ocean in their wake, Connor felt a small but sturdy hand slip into his. He didn’t turn from the sunset to look at his daughter; he could have sculpted her from memory. Instead, he stood a little taller, and reminded himself once again that his life was perfect. The ship he had built with his own hands under his feet and the child of his great love next to him were a bounty of blessing he didn’t feel worthy of.
“Da,” Kitten’s small but precise voice sang his name like a talisman “is tonight the night we will see the comets?”
“Meteors, Kitten, yes. Tonight is the night they are predicted.”
“But how do the scientists know it will be tonight?”
“They can see them coming from a long way off my darling, through their telescopes.”
“Then won’t we need a telescope to see them too?” Her brow creased right in the spot between her unruly eyebrows. Both the crease and the eyebrows were a gift from her mother and Connor’s heart crimped a little, as it always did, when he saw it.
“In the daytime we would, sweeting. But at night they will light up the sky for us, like shooting stars.”
“Hm.” She turned her fuzzy red head back to the sunset, as always, taking him at his word and prepared to wait for events to materialize just as he had promised.
Kitten was such a serious child. Full of curiosity. Inquisitive. Stubborn at times. She was a great observer, and a keen study of human nature. She often schooled him in the handling of employees, even at only five years of age, she often knew about disputes and petty rivalries before he did. Connor had thought that life on the ship would prove empty and unbearable after the loss of his Isabelle, but this small, fierce being at his side had anchored him to reality in a surprising and pleasant manner.
Smiling to himself at his maudlin thoughts, Connor bent and scooped his daughter into his arms just as a sweet, silvery bell sounded throughout the ship. “Come on my wee hooligan. We must get you dressed for dinner. The stars will be waiting for us once the meal is finished and we mustn't keep His Highness the Duke waiting.”