The wind howled around the deck of the ship my travels to the Hoek of Holland continued and I completed a charcoal drawing of an elderly couple’s faces in a swollen, grey heart. I thumbed the final smudges onto the page and tried to stifle a sigh. Lucky they’re paying for this, I thought as I committed a set of fake initials to the bottom corner of the page. It wouldn’t pay to have anyone think this picture was my idea.
“Dankeschön, dankeschön!” The barrel of a German man enthused as he dropped his money into my hand.
“Bitteschön.” I quickly answered, shooting him a smile that spoke more of the food I was about to buy than our interaction. His torso bounced with delight as if a small child was jumping up and down on it. He seemed larger than life against the back drop of a hundred wiry looking Army recruits.
Gathering my drawing supplies together, I scanned the deck for a suitable food outlet. The lino beneath my feet felt increasingly unsteady as the ship moved into rougher water.
A loud clatter and a yelp drew my attention to an Army recruit who had not maintained his balance through the turbulence. With arms outstretched and head down, he lay at the end of a row of plastic, yellow seats and groaned.
I considered stepping over him to get to my food. He appeared to be sniffing the floor. He might not even notice.
“Dames en heren…” the ship speakers crackled to life. “Please locate and remain in your seats.”
A growl escaped from my empty stomach. Choppy water or not, finding food was definitely the priority. Carefully raising a foot to clear the collapsed soldier, I started to make my way towards the eatery.
To be continued…