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Salvation

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The Concordia brings them survival, but not salvation.

Starvation and sickness have unraveled them, peeled back the thin glossy veneer to reveal the bones and muscle underneath. George doesn't know what's worse: being alone in his head with the unfamiliar man he is to himself now, or sitting amid his comrades, only to realize they too, have been strangers to him all along.

Next to him in the sick bay, Edward Little is bowed over Jopson's – the steward – berth and talks and talks, Jopson's limp hand neatly folded between both of his own.

Edward Little, who has never once voluntarily opened his mouth, unless the conversation turned to ships, or fishing, or horses.

“Went to Barbados once,” he says and brushes an errand strand off Jopson's brow. “With the Vindictive. You wouldn't believe the beauty of it. We ate coconuts on the beach.”

Jopson doesn't twitch or open his eyes and Little prods on, head low and voice soft: “In '42. Was that same voyage Mottlington was attacked by a shark and then married that local girl, even though he had only one good leg left.”

George thinks back to the moment when Hickey, easy
face and knife in hand, threw him the sack of meat and George didn't flinch, not even for an instant, not even before Hickey, laughing, told him it was only the dog.

They are who they are. Edward Little rambles on, as if these inconsequential bits of him could put a dying man back together, and George closes his eyes and prays.