The chest #writephoto

Sue Vincent’s photo prompt got under my skin this week.


It contains my dowry. All I was ever likely to possess if only for the length of a sea voyage. It was mine until I handed it over to my future husband. Mother made sure that part of the bride price was in brocade and hair ornaments, ear rings and filigree beads. Nothing that would tempt a man, she said silently with her eyes. Perhaps I would get some joy of my father’s wealth. The rest—the coin, the plate, the jewels, Robert would keep.

I was given the only cabin, a cupboard that stank of fish oil and vomit. The captain had threatened to cut the throat of any men who touched me and I prayed his threat would be equal to the lock that wasn’t on the door.

The chest squatted next to my narrow bed. Although I wore the keys around my neck, the next to open the lid was to have been Robert. I could see his stubby fingers grappling with the locks, his dark eyes glittering when he flung open the lid. I wondered would he be satisfied with what he found. Would he treat me gently, like the child I was, because my father’s gold was yellow enough for his taste?

It is cold, but I no longer shiver. Not since the storm and the cruel grasp of the furious waves. I will never know the touch of those stubby fingers or see the avidity in those dark eyes. Perhaps this is better, to know only the darkness, the green sea currents that slip and curl like serpents through the deeps. My shade sits, with my rotting brocades, the glint of my useless pearls, on the chest, watching the curious fish dart through the wreckage of the ship, among the casks and chests and lifeless bodies, to nibble our flesh.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

22 thoughts on “The chest #writephoto”

      1. Masses I hope. The famous wrecks tend to get hoards of treasure hunters looking for them, but hundreds of smaller ships were lost and they must have all be carrying things we would consider treasure today.

      2. History is everywhere. The scratches on the cellar walls, the rusty objects that appear in the garden, strange shaped stones that look worked, they all mean something, started somewhere. There’s so much mystery you’d go mad if you worried about it all.

  1. It sounds like she was off to a new life? Like the marriage didn’t work out. Or she was being sent off for a different marriage. Really this made me feel like I was seeing the beginning of Shakespear’s Twelfth Night. Awesome job writing!

      1. I wasn’t too sure exactly where she was going. If the oppression of girls as bartered goods was your intent to show, it truly is awful and wrong and everything inbetween.

      2. I was thinking of a medieval setting, but girls in some societies still have to take money with them when they marry, or they don’t get a husband and if they don’t get a husband, presumably all that’s left is slavery.

      3. Oh yes forsure, I got that medieval setting with the importance of the trunk, since that was one of the most common pieces of furniture from that time period. Yes, sadly girls still need a dowry in some places. Touching piece.thanks

  2. Great writing! You are in a dark mood though as evidenced by you recent answers to Sue’s prompts. The brighter side is that you’ve pointed out a beastly practice that no woman should ever be forced to endure. I like that you gave her freedom at the end, even if in a watery grave.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s