Published on
December 8, 2010
(This is a short story I wrote as my "B-Paper" for my English Composition II class.  Our task was to write a prequel, sequel, or differing perspective on a short story we read during class.  I chose "The Blue Jar" by Isak Dinesen.  If you have a chance, I definitely encourage you to read the story; especially considering that my perspective only details a small bit of it.  In fact, I took on the task of filling in what Dinesen only dedicated one sentence towards, so though I would hope that my story can stand alone in its own merit, I believe it will have further impact if read as a companion to the original Blue Jar.
To get you even more prepared, the critique from my professor was that I did a very good job, especially with exposition, and even asked if I had considered taking creative writing classes.  He also agreed with the only other person to have read this so far when she said, "It is more romantic than many of the novels I've read."
On that note, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it.)

When All The World Was Blue
By: Mattias Marasigan
Based on the characters by Isak Dinesen 

She awoke with a start and had to cover her eyes from the glaring sun that beat down on her.  As the brightness slowly faded she looked all around her to gather her bearings, only to find nothing but blue.  Blue sky and blue water, and she was in a boat.  She was still in a boat.  She had hoped it had all been a dream, but alas, the boat was still here, and it caused her to anguish.  Sinking back down to the deck boards she closed her eyes once again and tried to find peace of mind under the shade of a makeshift awning.

This proved to be very difficult.

“It’s not very becoming to sleep all day you know.” 

It was the boy.  The merchant boy.  Only two nights on this god forsaken boat and already she was fed up with him.

“I’m tiiiiired…” she whined.

“For a princess you’re very lazy.”  Obviously, he had not grown too fond of her either.

This comment caused her to come back up and turn around, as best she could, to look him directly in the eyes.  Then, in an effort to keep her dignified stance, she forced a smile.  “Perhaps you’re right boy,” she started sarcastically, “I think I’ll stretch my legs.”  And much to his gestured argument, and maybe even to spite him, she stood up and reached high to the sky, getting on her toes for a second before the boat started to list violently.  Luckily, she landed with a plop back in the boat as it slowly came back to a steady rocking.  The merchant boy merely shook his head, choosing not to say anything, and tried to relax again as he looked out towards the sea.

Lady Helena, on the other hand, was still fuming.  “I want to be home.  Why haven’t we reached land yet?”  It was then she noticed the rod in his hands with a makeshift line disappearing into the ocean.  “And what do you think you’re doing with that boy?  What are you doing to do if you actually catch something?  As if that thing could.”

“Well at least I’m trying.  And stop calling me boy.  I have a name you know.”

“Oh?  Enlighten me.”

He thought about it for a second before turning back to his rod.  “Forget it…” he trailed off.

“Figures.  No name, good for nothing sailor, who can’t even get us to dry land.” She gestured at the blue, pouting more to herself than she was speaking to him.

“Well excuse me princess.” He snapped finally, bringing the rod into the boat, for he never gave much thought as to what he’d do if he did catch something, but he didn’t tell her that.  “I suppose I should be swimming ahead with a rope tied around my waist while your lazy ass sits here looking pretty and helpless.  If you’ve already forgotten I rescued you from that burning wreckage, though I’m actually second guessing that decision, so I’d be a little more grateful that you’re not dead and lying at the bottom of the ocean, and if you could stop ordering me about like some slave I’d greatly appreciate it your highness!”

That did it.  He had loosened the valves, and quite the opposite reaction that he expected, the water started to pour out of her eyes and guilt washed over him almost as quickly.  “Hey…” he started as he shuffled closer to her, “I’m sorry…I didn’t mean…” but before he could get any of the words out she started bawling.

“I haven’t bathed…my hair is nappy and greasy…I’ve been baking in this sun all day…”

Suddenly he stopped caring, and as he sauntered back into his corner the rest of her complaints became lost in between the sobbing.  Still he couldn’t help but feel bad for snapping at her, though he had legitimate reasons, so going into his rucksack he pulled out an orange and tossed it in her direction.  It landed nicely on her dress in front of her and caused her to look up.  “Eat.” He urged her, “You’re just hungry.”

She took it, still wiping away tears as she did, but took it regardless for she couldn’t deny his last statement.  He was right about one thing.  If it wasn’t for him she’d have been long gone.  Back on the merchant ship he was smart enough to gather as much as he could of the supplies before going to the lifeboats, and it was for this reason that he was there long enough to have found her alone and confused, surrounded by flames.  He had brought some food, some cloth that they used for shade and other uses, and as much water as he could carry.  If they survived, it would be because of his thinking, and he didn’t deserve the treatment she gave him; though she wouldn’t admit to it yet.

“Thanks…” she did say quietly, as if it was all she could muster at that point.

He gave her a quick glance, before turning back to the ocean, watching as the small breeze carried the saltwater spray.  “Edgar…my name is Edgar.”

“Thanks…” she said again softly, staring at the orange as if she were speaking to it, picking at the peel with a curiously content look on her face, “Edgar.”

And he liked the sound of his name when she spoke it.  He smiled.

They hadn’t spoken much the rest of the day.  At first Helena still took to complaining about their predicament, despite her moment of gratitude that morning, when she wasn’t resting, and Edgar continued to be tolerant as he forced himself not to roll his eyes any time she opened her mouth.  Still the bickering was far less volatile as it had been before, and indeed they slowly began to grow dependent on each other’s company, but once Helena eventually found herself with nothing more to fuss over, she suddenly found herself with nothing more to say at all, and so they sat in tortuous silence as the day drolly passed on by.

Night fell, and with it came the cold.  Thankfully Edgar had somehow managed to procure a blanket from the ship.  The slight singe marks indicated that it had probably been used as protection against the flames, but that was no matter.  Regardless, the blanket couldn’t protect her completely, and even Edgar was having a hard time keeping warm although he had the lifeboat tarp for himself.  Without a fire, and out in open waters, they would freeze.  It was, of course, he that suggested they use each other’s body for warmth, and she, as usual, did not find that the least bit amusing.  “You d-do understand what d-death is.” He said through chattering teeth.  She nodded.  “Good.” He said, “Then if-f you d-die it will not be from the l-lack of ed-d-ucation.”

“I…am…a l-ady.” She forced out through the shivering. “It’s n-not pr-proper.”

“P-propriety never k-kept anyone warm.”

“B-Boy. N-no matter what you s-say, you w-will not get me in y-your arms t-tonight.  My dignity is more important than your warmth.”

“Very well princess, then rest assured that your stubbornness will be the death of us both.” And though he believed this to be quite true, he merely shut his eyes and tried to accept it.

Though it could have easily been their fate out on the high seas, miraculously they made it through the night, albeit far more tired from the lack of sleep.  So they dozed the day away, and when one was asleep the other was awake, so neither really knew of the other’s actions till the late afternoon, when sleep would elude them once more.  They ate their rations, and Helena took to rattling away about all the things she was missing whilst being away from home, the banquets, the parties, the shopping, the traveling (though she did admit to stopping that for a while), and whatever else came to mind.  Eventually, when Edgar could bear it no longer, he began to sing songs of the sea, and for once, and with no argument, Helena found herself with nothing to say.  That night was just the same as the last, but just as Edgar found some form of comfort and started to drift off to sleep, he was brought awake again the moment Helena forced herself surprisingly into his chest and between his arms.  After a moment of hesitation, he was about to open his mouth to question when she, her eyes still closed, interrupted him with a commanding tone, “This will never get out to anyone.”  To this he silently complied, and they commenced to have their first night of deep sleep since their unfortunate stranding.

As it was, the next few days went by with little incident or quarreling; in fact, nothing at all of the latter.  Indeed as the two found themselves at ease with one another, enjoying the other’s company, the days would go by much quicker.  They found that though they were two different personalities, they did have a similar interest in hearing about the other.  Edgar opened up about his upbringing.  He spoke of his father, who was also a merchant sailor, who brought him up alone when his mother died and who taught him everything he knew.  Edgar admired his father, and for that Helena admired Edgar, for the way he spoke of their bond she were the likes of which she had never quite experienced.  Helena corrected Edgar on his term of princess, stating that her father was only a councilor, and that she bore only some similarities to royalty, but she admitted to enjoying his mistake and imagined it as being so, if only for a little while.  She spoke of her dreams, and of the fantastical stories she had heard about lands far off; the New World that had been discovered and how she wanted to discover as well.  He recited poems and tales of his own, most being of his own journeys and of the places he had seen and experienced.  To this, Helena found herself strangely wanting to accompany him on such adventures, and soon stories past became plans for the future, for them to experience together.  Before long, those cold nights became something to look forward to, as they would drift off talking seamlessly of a life together; for that is what these days at sea had started to become to them.

A life together.

But as the days began to add up, so did the rations begin to dwindle, and so all they had was this life at sea.  The future seemed so much an impossibility as they gradually lost hope of ever seeing land again; of anything but the blue world around them.  Yet they were not at all bothered by this.  Should they never find themselves rescued, it was no matter, they were content at dying comfortably in each other’s arms, because they could no longer imagine a life without the other.  So it was on the eighth night, when the food had been gone and the drinking water had already given its final drop, that they looked up on the clear night and saw a star drop from the sky; its tail stretching onward to the horizon.  Edgar held onto Helena tightly, and he whispered into her ear something she had given up hope of ever hearing, “Marry me.”  The fact that it was a demand, not a question, was enough for her to give in.  Without any hesitation, she nodded her approval, too weak to do otherwise, and she knew at that moment that Edgar would be there for her no matter what, just as he had been there the past several days, if they did miraculously get out of this situation.

As it was the next morning came, and Edgar awoke to a strange a new sound, one he hadn’t heard in over 9 days.  It was the sound of sailor’s voices, of the wood creaking and the water breaking on the bow of a ship.  He arose in a groggy haze, thinking it was his mind playing tricks on him due to the hunger, but soon found that this was not so, and as a lifeboat slowly made its way towards them a hope also began to rise in him.  He tried to raise Lady Helena gently, to tell her that they were saved, but she her consciousness was barely there.  “Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ll get you out of this.”  And so he began to row with all his strength towards the other boat.

And Helena, the last thing she remembered before falling back to sleep, was of Edgar silhouetted by the backdrop of the clear blue sky.  And she thought, “Why would I ever want to leave.” 

Mattias is an actor, writer, filmmaker, and editor currently living in Los Angeles, CA. He often writes about his observations about life, the human condition, spirituality, and relationships. He also enjoys writing about movies, pop culture, formula one, and current events. Often these writings are 'initial thoughts' and un-edited, as authentic as possible, and should be considered opinions. If you're interested in commenting on his work, or continuing the conversation, you should consider following him on Twitter or share an article on social media, where he would love to engage even further. Consider subscribing via RSS for more.