My dad thinks I don't exist. Or at least, he pretends I don't exist.
What he doesn't know is that I've just flown thousands of miles, to some god awful seaport in Alaska, to find his fishing boat.
I pulled my thin jacket tighter, wondering why I hadn't dressed for Alaska. It was freezing. Literally. Ice coated the docks, and the tiny hairs on my arm were standing on end. I dragged my rolling suitcase over a particularly bumpy part of the docks, and continued my mission: finding ROSIE, my dad's boat.
They all looked much bigger than I'd pictured. And they were all jam-packed with big net things, and workers, and a bunch of other crap I didn't recognize. It was giving me a sinking feeling... this wasn't exactly what I'd pictured.
According to the magazine I'd read on the flight over, crabbing season started tomorrow. Which was a lucky break, I guess. I hadn't even thought that he might be at sea when I arrived.
My giant green suitcase was getting heavier by the step, even with squeaky plastic wheels. The wooden surface of the deck was so uneven I might as well have just been dragging the thing.
And the air smelled like rotten fish. Everyone always talked about how wonderful and fresh the ocean smelled; at the moment, it just plain stank.
I was this close to ditching my mission when I spotted it. It was fire-engine red, with black railing. The white lettering was old and cracked, but the words were plain as day. It was my dad's ship.
THE ROSIE. I couldn't help but was the ship that had taken all his time. All his interest.
All his everything. This ship was the reason I hadn't seen him in over four years. I wondered if he even knew Mom had died. If he cared that I'd been pawned off on his sister when he was my dad.
It wasn't even that great looking. Sure, it was big. And the paint looked fresh and shiny, like it had been polished. But it was still just a stupid boat.
I wanted to just stand there all day and stare. In all the years he'd been gone on this thing- first for just certain seasons, and then permanently- I'd never even seen a picture. And I guess I'd envisioned something ... Something that would make it worth while. That didn't make sense, even in my head, but I still felt disappointed by the thought of it. It was like I'd thought that everything would make more sense once I saw the boat. That the appeal would somehow materialize, and I'd just get it.
A sharp breeze blew by, and it tore through my jacket like it wasn't even there. I guess I wasn't in Seattle anymore. I shivered and pulled the thin coat tighter, and then yanked my suitcase and started towards the boat.
It was now or never.
I paused only a second when I got near it, and then picked up my bag and awkwardly threw it on board. It landed with a hard clang that made me wonder why I'd packed so much.
Oh yeah. Because I was hoping my dad wouldn't send me back home. At least, not for awhile. I needed a break from my Martha-Stewart-Clone of an aunt.
I needed an adventure, to take my mind off life. And if there's one thing I was, it was adventurous.
A surge of butterflies churned in my stomach as I climbed awkwardly over the railing, and stepped down onto the deck. What the hell was I doing? Of course he'd send me back. He'd called exactly eight times in the last four years: once each for my birthdays, and once each for Christmas. The last call had come months ago, and had been taken by the answering machine. He left a twenty second message.
He sent gifts now and then, too. And not just for special occasions. I always liked the stuff he sent. The last thing I'd gotten was a cool charm bracelet.
But gifts didn't really change the facts. He wasn't off the hook just because he knew how to use the internet and a credit card.
Of course, he'd probably be pretty ticked that I skipped a whole week of school for this. But seriously, it was only October. I had plenty of time to make up for anything I missed.
And okay, I was kind of hoping the guys on board weren't too old. I could go for an Orlando Bloom type. Hell, I'd even go for the Johnny Depp pirate type. I hadn't been on a date since I moved in with HELL-EN.
The sound of heavy footsteps made me whirl around, and soon I was face to face with a six foot man as big around as an ogre.
"HI! Um, I'm looking for Captain Vaughn."
The man narrowed his eyes and pursed his thin lips at at me, nearly making them disappear amongst his thick, unruly dark beard. For a long moment I thought he wasn't going to answer.
"Check up there," he said, pointing to the front of the boat, where a few windows wrapped around a small cabin.
I nodded and yanked on my suitcase. I couldn't help but see the sneer he gave me when he saw the thing.
"What are you, the new greenhorn?" He laughed and then walked off before giving me a chance to respond. Clearly, it was a rhetorical question. Not that I planned on answering or anything.
I stepped on some steel plates on my way to the cabin, and they wobbled in a way that made me think I wasn't supposed to step on them. But then I glanced back, and the scary deckhand was walking around and stepping on them like they weren't even there.
So I guess they were supposed to wobble.
I ditched my bag just outside the cabin, leaning it against one of the walls. The thing was obviously not made for strolling around boat decks, and my arms and shoulders were already burning from dragging it around all morning.
There was a ladder leading up to where the deckhand had pointed. I looked around for a minute, wondering if this was really the only way to get up there, and then just shrugged and climbed up it.
When I got close to the cabin, I could see a shadow moving around inside, and I held my breath for a moment. Even with the way the windows were a little fogged up, I could make out enough details to see that he looked different.
He was shorter than I remembered. But then, maybe it's because I was shorter back when I actually knew him. He had a thick beard that was surprisingly filled with grey hairs. A hat was pulled low over his head, but judging by the hairs that poked out from underneath, his hair was graying too. The rest of him I couldn't quite make out.
With an unsteady hand, I reached out and yanked the door open. He had his back to me, and before he could turn around to see who was barging into his cabin, I blurted out a greeting.
A/N: Hi guys! I hope you enjoyed chapter one of CATCH OF THE DAY. I am going to be uploading a couple chapters a month until the release of my soon-to-be-published book, PRADA AND PREJUDICE, as part of my promotion/marketing.
For those not familiar with me, I started on Fictionpress in 2003, where I penned my first ever fiction and posted it to FP. You guys rocked and reviewed and encouraged me. In 2005, I decided I wanted to try and get published. It took me three more years, but in June of 08 (this year) I scored a two book deal with Razorbill, a division of Penguin. (Penguin is one of the big New York houses, the second largest English language publisher in the world). Without a doubt, I am published because fictionpress—and its users—exist. So thank you for that! I look forward to sharing this new story with you, and I hope you'll look forward to PRADA AND PREJUDICE, releasing in Summer of 2009.