Fiction logo

A Tale of Two Memories

As the two ships closed in final battle an aroma drifted out from ones hull. One that did not belong to this day in any way, but one that would intertwine two souls in layer upon layer of memories thought long forgotten.

By Nick LehnerPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 8 min read
A Tale of Two Memories

“Captain? We’re losing the wind, shall we do another pass, or turn about?

The H.M.S. Her Majesty rolled across the afternoon waves with its captain standing by her first mate's side at the helm. Her eyes tracked the smoke billowing up from the decks of the ship across the bow, its rigging falling from a charred and shattered main mast, the fires slowly spreading to the powder room below. Two days and a night's hunt had all led to this moment. A moment where Captain Diane Theed had won the day against these pirates in ruthless fashion.

She glanced over at her first mate, but hesitated to answer. What was that smell?  

Beneath the odor of smoke and gunpowder rising from the waves, there was something far more subtle that didn’t belong?

Something so out of place that Theed hardly took notice of the screams and splashes of those few privateers that remained as they fled their sinking wreck to a sole row boat attempting its bold escape.

“Do you smell that John?” She asked, glancing over at her first mate. Something in her tone drew the man around to face her, “Captain?" he said quizzically, "I must admit all I can smell is cannon fire. Had a bit of a run in with the gun crews below while we were volleying.” She nodded distractedly, her eyes once more shifting to the wreck as it sagged yet lower in water.   

What was that smell? Theed still couldn’t shake that ghostly sense of recognition. A memory right on the edge of her mind. So close, but just out of reach, and so she continued to hesitate in her answer.

The Sea Maidens Tale

The oak planks creaked on all sides around him as the ship took on water.   

Ships cook’s assistant’s assistant Archibald Adams swayed slightly, as he beamed with pride at the heavy steel box stove chained to the main support rafters of the ships galley.

Today was most definitely the day he thought to himself. The day that he Archibald demonstrated his singular culinary prowess among ship’s cook’s assistant’s assistants. Granted, to a slightly smaller audience than was usual, but regardless he was ready for this moment!

A high pitched scream pierced the air from the main decks above.

“Oh dear..” Archibald murmured, a frown spreading across his young face.

Indeed, no one aboard The Sea Maidens Tale had been in a good mood since that warship had appeared like a wraith from the fiery abyss two nights earlier. Inevitably those moods had only continued to foul yet further when it had given chase.  

“It’s not proper, these blue coats chasing us round when we’re minding our own, and all peaceful like the whole while”

The words of ship's cook Theodore Crisp echoed through the back of  Archibald’s mind. Crisp had had a point now that Archibald came to think of it. After all they’d only hunted down the ships that absolutely deserved the pirates kiss, and if that wasn’t the way of the sea then what was?

He shook himself continuing to gaze into the steel box stoves inner chamber. The heavenly smells drifting out of it as the fire it hung above continued to heat the steel to a glistening red and yellow hue.

Then again, he considered, he could be wrong. Thinking all philosophical like had never been Archibald’s strong point. In fact back home when he’d been a lad his Da had always made sure to remind him of just that.

“Yer as slow as a mule in a muddy field boy.” He’d stammer out past a bottle of the ol’ murky.  

An interesting way of phrasing it all, but his Da had always loved to talk after he’d had a few drinks, and days without the bottle had been few and far between for the man Archibald recalled.

It had been this unfortunate detail that had driven a young, red haired boy with more imagination than hair on his chin to the docks. Well, that and his Ma’s prized stallion. "Go on Arch, it’s time for you to leave all this behind" she’d said, handing him a satchel of dried bread along with a hefty sack of coin as his Da had raged in their cottage a bottle in hand one night.

That wasn’t all the lad had inherited from his mother though. No, Archibald had always been a culinary master, and while ships cook Theodore Crisp would never admit it, Archibald could have sworn he’d seen the man flash the lords grin his way once in a while.

It had been this that had won the young lad a place on The Sea Maidens Tale when the ship had sailed into harbor one fateful Spring morning. A morning that still brought a smile to Archibald’s face to this day. The sun raining down onto his back, Archibald had laid eyes on the most beautiful ship he’d ever seen, and with that his mind had been made up, and off he'd gone.

“Finest cook’s assistant you ever did see sir!” he’d said, “Already have a cook’s assistant? Well then it’s a ship's cook’s assistant’s assistant for me then!”, and who was the ship's cook Theodore Crisp to say no to such determination?

In all his years of sailing the seven seas Theodore Crisp had never met a boy so ready to give himself to the cause. A devotion the man had realized he could not refuse, and so he had put him to work peeling potatoes and cleaning pots. After all, Crisp had thought, Who better for the boy to learn from than the finest ship’s cook alive? A claim the man had made so often to a young Archibald, that the boy had long since stopped doubting the man's claims, instead taking them for the gods' own truth.

Bold claims indeed. The veracity of which the crew of The Sea Maidens Tale had credited to Crisp’s incessant need to taste each of his dishes prior to serving them. Had this cogent detail been in any way connected to the man's prestigious girth? An interesting question Archibald considered, but one he had decided would never be answered given Crisp's untimely demise at the hands of an errant cannonball hours earlier.

And so, with the ship's cook meeting his demise, and his assistant fleeing quickly afterwards over the rails edge, Archibald had finally been granted his golden opportunity to create a culinary masterpiece as the official ship's cook on this prized pirate ship.

Archibald had gathered with care the ingredients from the ship's galley, and resurrected from memory a dish like no other The Sea Maidens Tale had ever seen.

A chocolate cake.

A work of culinary execution that would have brought a tear or two to old Crisp himself, god rest the poor mans soul, Archibald thought as he gingerly unclasped the steel door to reach the small tin within. Roughly beaten into a rectangular shape, and now worn by years on the high seas the tin sat eye level with Archibald in the steel oven, and despite its disheveled condition the cake it housed looked and smelled just about ready.

An aroma like no other engulfed the newly self appointed ship's cook transporting him into an oasis of pure paradise with layer after layer of fragrances fit for the heavens above. It was ready at long last. Archibald stepped forward, and rag in hand removed the piping hot cake-tin from the oven.

Looking at the creation before him a tear ran down Archibald’s face as he was transported back to a singular happy memory, perhaps the only one of his childhood. A memory of his mother with a rare, but genuine smile on her beautiful face as she moved about the kitchen. Gliding from place to place she’d gone, a wooden spoon in one hand, and a dusty book in the other. A memory that then cascaded into a litany of smells and flavors that lived on through time, perfectly preserved until this moment here and now.

Freshly ground cocoa beans from the market with their rich aroma enough to bewitch the soul. Sugar cane from the fields, now shimmering crystals waiting to transform before the eyes yet again. Wheat flour only just ground the morning before dusting every surface it touched with that delicate powder, and fresh eggs and milk from the barn.

A chorus of smells, a symphony of flavors, and a single smile that warmed Archibald’s heart for all eternity. A faint smile on his face he took out his dagger and cut away a slice of the decadent cake, and took a bite. Pure happiness was all he could feel, and even as the creaks and groans of the ships hull grew still louder, Archibald could only feel content, lost in that memory from so long ago. “This ones for you Ma” he murmured softly tasting the rich chocolate, and with that the fires in the hull reached the powder room below, and The Sea Maidens Tale was no more.   

The explosion sent scraps of wood and sail cloth spraying across the bow of the H.M.S. Her Majesty. A detail that sent the bulk of her crew diving for cover from the debris, but one that didn’t so much as make Theed flinch a muscle.

The captain was far too busy lost in that tantalizing smell, and all it awoke inside of her. Memories of a summer home in beautiful Sussex, her young brother playing by the streams edge, the cooks working their magic early in the morning. Her father and mothers smiling faces-      

“Captain? We’re losing the wind, shall we do another pass, or turn about?

Captain Diane Theed jerked in surprise as her first mate repeated himself.

The smell was all but faded she realized, and yet those memories had only grown stronger. A sense of nostalgia like none Theed had experienced in a long, long while. She turned from the wreckage to meet her first mate's calm gaze from behind the ship's wheel, “Turn about John, it’s time to head home”. A smile spread across the mans worn features, “Home it is Captain”.

H.M.S. Her Majesty


About the Creator

Nick Lehner

Nick is a massive Cleveland Browns fan, history nerd, and videogame fanatic, who loves any and everything sci-fi related. When he isn't writing and producing content, he's watching Frasier re-runs and raging over Call of Duty!

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.