1. I have parents who care if I succeed.
2. My baby is still alive and well.
3. School starts today. I may not like all of it, but at least I have the opportunity to go.
You'll need to read Part 6 for Part 7 to make sense.
The walk back to the ship was longer than The Cook remembered. It seemed every miscreant and rabble rouser was on full display, and that made each step tiresome. Was leaving Sally with Scratch really the best idea? Look at these people, charlatans. Each one would sooner steal you blind than give you a hand, and half of them are standing BEHIND the store fronts. How would Sally ever make it in Andrill? The sack in his strong hands grew heavy as the worry did on his shoulders. Maybe he could have kept Sally a few more months and dropped him in Shimbly, with the tribe there. He may not have gotten an education, or lived past twenty, but at least his death would be at the hands of a troll instead of another human like it was bound to be in Andrill. He might grow up to be honest too. Respectable, at least in the only way the Shimbly tribe knows how. In full disclosure, The Cook had come to love the boy and didn't want him to go anywhere except his little kitchen, but of course that was worse than everywhere else. Assuming The Cook could keep him a secret from The Captain and crew, how would a toddling child stay around big open barrels of water, cleavers, and sacks of grain. He'd be cut or suffocated before The Cook could say, "Bob's your uncle." Scratch may not have been the best choice, but she was the only real one The Cook had. While she seemed almost certain death to the boy, all other options were absolutely certain death. Sal would call Scratch, 'Mom.'
The ship looked shoddier than it had when he'd left it. The wood on it was warped and bowed, it was a wonder it stayed afloat at all. The sails were torn, and the crew always seemed half drunk, which made him wonder how they got anywhere. The Cook stopped about one hundred yards from the dock and stared through the ship. He thought of all the nights alone, listening to the crew yell accounts of their sexual escapades, or shout sea shanties with their own vulgar verses. Sally had been his friend these last few months. Sure, he didn't talk much, or at all, but at least he was good company. He didn't cuss or spit or drink too much (The Cook had only given him a little whiskey to help him sleep once or twice). And perhaps best of all, Sally didn't call him The Cook, or make fun of his real name, Stacey. Why his mother had named him after his Great Grandmother was beyond him, but Stacey was indeed his name. When he protested as a boy his mother would tell him Stacey was a name for a boy or a girl, but had no answer when Stacey asked why he didn't know any other boys named Stacey. And here The Cook stood, friendless, and on the cusp of a life he knew he didn't want to live.
For a moment, Stacey played with the idea of staying in Andrill. He'd turn right around and walk, no run, straight back to Scratch's shanty beneath the brothel and he'd demand that Sally be placed back in his custody. The Cook and the boy would head for the west, escaping the stench that was Andrill, escaping their fates as poor outcasts, and escaping the uncertainty of the sea, where both of them had found hard luck. Where the boy had been unwanted by his own mother, and Stacey had given away every dream he had for a four by four room and a man who chose his every fate. The two would run through fields and look for a small town to settle down in. The Cook would build and run a little inn that would be known for miles around for its excellent cuisine. Sally would learn the trade, and when Stacey was old, he would give the inn to Sally, and like a good son, Sally would keep the inn going and allow Stacey to keep on there to dispense of old age wisdom and cooking advice.Surely there was no better dream than this. Surely they could make it. Surely he would not take another step toward that awful vessel, which held nothing but pain and shame.
"Stacey! Git to the ship b'fore we leaves ya!"