It’s one of those days again. Victoria glances at herself through the mirror – looking at her sophisticated ball gown, her powdered face and her dark hair which is made in a gracious knot. A maid puts on the last touch of her outfit; a golden necklace with pearls.

“Thank you, Janet!” Victoria says to the maid through the mirror while touching the necklace with her fingertips. “I look like a clown!” She adds under her breath.

The maid nods and bows before she leaves the room. Victoria raises the skirt of her dress with all the embroideries and layers of petticoats as she turns around facing her grand, spoiled bedroom. She moves towards the door and passes her poster bed which is covered with bronze embroidered fabric around the frame. In front of her door she halts and plucks on her waist.

“Uh, I can’t breathe in this entity!” She groans and loosens her corset slightly. She sighs relieved. “Much better!”

Before she handles the doorknob, she takes in a deep, dreaded breath.

“You’ve got this!” She tries to embolden herself and glides outside her door.

Victoria strides along a marble corridor; her heels making clacking noises on the tiles; and the walls are covered with dozens of pictures of old relatives who have fallen in battles. Plants fill the room here and there and a cold breeze brushes past her from the window at the end of the hallway. Footsteps approach from her right and someone grabs Victoria by her elbow. She startles.

“You look magnificent!” Nicholas whispers in her ear and smoothes the seam of his suit. He takes her by arm and leads her towards the entrance of the dinner hall.

“You look handsome as well, brother!” Victoria responds and is relieved to have him at her side. He always takes the edge off of her.

Nicholas chuckles. “I always do!” He says while he straightens his tall, broad body with pride and trails his fingers through his thick dark blond hair. Victoria nudges him with her elbow.

Another pair of footsteps approaches them, the steps echoing through the hall in a haste. A middle-aged man stops in front of them with a tensed stature and both Victoria’s and Nicholas’ smiles fade.

“You both are late!” The man chastises in a deep angry voice.

“Pardon us, father!” Victoria answers and tilts her head down.

“You know I despise tardiness. This evening is very important for our family!” He states and both Victoria and Nicholas are ashamed. “Now, go into the dinner hall immediately!” He insists as a soft voice echoes through the hall.

“Edward, darling! Our guests have just arrived!” A female voice says from the dinner hall. Edward gestures his children to enter the diner hall. Nicholas and Victoria stride inside the room leaving only the echo of their shoes on the marble floor behind.

“We are on our way, Eliza!” Edward answers his wife and enters the diner hall after his children. 

Soft classical music fills the decorated ballroom coming from the left corner of the room by a small orchestra. The dome rises in the middle of the room to the sky and reveals the beautiful starry sky. Around the room people are gathered in small groups chatting indistinctly and sipping champagne. Beneath the dome some of the guest are dancing around.  In the background servants hurry from group to group to serve champagne and some appetizers.

The DeVere family stands on top of the balcony overseeing the room and their guests.  A Staircase leads down on both sides and Edward descends on the right side followed by Nicholas. A butler stands next to the balcony railing and announces their entrance in a loud voice.

“Lord Edward DeVere and Sir Nicholas DeVere!”

Eliza is just on her way to descends as she notices the unease of her daughter. Victoria fetches nervously on her dress and her face is pale. 

“Darling, is everything fine?” Eliza asks worried.

Victoria takes in rapid, panicked breath. “Mother, I….I can’t do this! I’m not ready!” She stutters.  Her stomach rummages and she feels sick. Immediately, Eliza pulls her daughter close to her chest, putting her arms around her. She strokes Victoria’s hair softly and she hides her face in her mother’s auburn hair; her skin rest on the cold metal of Eliza’s jewellery. Somehow the coolness soothes her burning skin and her breath steadies. Eliza pulls back slightly, and her emerald green eyes meet Victoria’s mahogany ones.

“I know exactly how you feel, honey! I felt just like you when I was your age. But it is going to be alright. You can do this. I believe in you.” Eliza says and gestures her daughter to go ahead.

Victoria gathers her strength and walks past her mother. Standing beside her Victoria glances down at the crowd, observing them. She always hated those kind of self-indulgent, ignorant, lazy and snobby people who only care for themselves. She couldn’t care less for their attention and opinion and would rather stay in her room, but she doesn’t want to disappoint her family. Her family’s status quo is very important, especially for her father and she would never want to disrespect him.

Eliza eyes her daughter and whispers in her ear. “I know what you think about them, but you are stronger than you thin!” Victoria glances at her mother surprised and shocked. She would have never guessed her mother thought the same. A small smile slips across Eliza’s lips and she nudges her daughter towards the stairs on the left.

“Now go, it is still your evening!” Eliza responds with an encouraging gesture. Victoria tries to smile back but fails.

“You have got this!” Victoria mutters under breath as kind of a mantra and takes the first step. Another step follows and mechanically she descends the staircase. Her body is stiff and her heart beats fast.

“Lady Victoria DeVere!” The Butler announces and immediately everything and everyone freezes. The music fades, the chatting ceases and everyone stares at Victoria. Silence fills the room. Nobody moves or breathes. They just watch Victoria descending the stairs.

Feeling everyone’s attention on her she gets sick again, but she tries to keep it down. Eyes follow her every move and she has to focus not to make a mistake. After a few more steps the guests start to murmur and slowly the music tunes in softly.

“She looks stunning! Oh, dear, look at her gorgeous dress! Oh, my, she’s a beauty!” Some of the guests whisper in awe.

As she arrives at the bottom of the stairs someone approaches her. A tall man around her age bows elegantly and kisses the back of her hand, his blue eyes never leaving hers.

“Mylady, Victoria! It is indeed a pleasure to finally meet you!” The man greets and Victoria curtsies in response.

“Sir James Cavendish! The pleasure is mine!” Victoria answers with feigned courtesy and luckily James didn’t notice.

The guests go back to their previous occupation. It’s like they woke up from their trance, like nothing happened. Shortly the room is filled with different kind of noises; music, chatting, moving footsteps and the clinking of glasses.

Victoria glances around the room to search for an excuse to leave. She spots her father, but he just scowls at her for not giving Sir Cavendish her attention. Her gaze wanders farther around the room and her eyes catch glimpse of her brother. Relief settles in her and just as she was about to excuse herself James blocks her way.

“Victoria, may I treat you with a glass of champagne?” James offers and extends his hand in a grand gesture.

Victoria’s eyes move between her brother and James. She doesn’t want at all to spend time with him, she despises him.

“Thank you for the offer James, but…!” Just as she was about to decline someone lays a hand on her shoulder. Victoria turns her head and stares at her mother who has a discontent and scolding expression on her face.  Her mother does not approve her action to get rid of James.

Screaming internally, she faces James again and smiles at him. “I’d like to have a glass of champagne!” Victoria answers and glances at her mother from the corner of her eye. Satisfied her mother greets James with a curtsy and withdraws.

“Sir Cavendish! I’ll leave you two to be!” Eliza responds and disappears in the sea of people. 

Victoria’s eyes follow her mother until she’s out of sight. She’s alone again and she feels lost. Her eyes meet James’ and he takes her by her arm and leads her away from the staircase and through the crowd towards the bar on the other side of the room. On her way, some of her guests greet her and exchange courtesies and all the time James talks continuously with her but she only listens to him half-heartedly. Her eyes are still searching the room for an escape but with no luck. There are just too many people gathered in here, she just can’t make out a familiar face. Seems like she’s stuck with him. Frustration hits her and she has no choice but to spend the evening with him.

Later that evening, Victoria stands completely bored next to James who’s only talking about how handsome he is, about his rich family, how successful he is in his father’s company and about all his other accomplishments. Obviously, he likes to brag and wants to impress her but he’s doing the complete opposite. With every word he says he pushes her farther away. She has never known time could pass so slowly like it did now. Her eyes wander around the room trying to distract herself, hoping time would pass but without success.

‘I can’t take much more of this!’ She thinks. ‘How can someone be so self-absorbed and narcissistic like him?’ Victoria is desperate, she doesn’t know what to do. All her hatred against her lifestyle, the people who surround her and the expectations she must fulfill swell up from deep inside her. She has never been satisfied with her lifestyle; she loathes all these fancy dresses and pompous balls and all these fake pretentious people. Victoria would rather have a simple life and do whatever she likes, but she can’t have either of the things she want; she’s stuck in this world.

Unfortunately, in her dismay James notices her absence of mind.

“You look bored! I beg your pardon for talking only about myself! Would you like to dance?” James asks and offers his hand.

Victoria’s body stiffens. She dreaded this would happen sometime this evening and now that it is here it is even worse. Considering her options, she really wages with declining but than again she could never do that without disrespecting him. Trapped, she gathers all her strength to survive this dance, and accepts his offer.

Taking a deep, steadying breath she answers. “I’d love to dance!” She says in the sweetest tone she could manage. James smiles at her widely and leads her onto the dancefloor.

The orchestra plays a piece of Mozart and the guests are dancing the waltz. James puts his arm around Victoria’s skinny waist while she lays her hand on top of his broad shoulders, feeling the silky cotton of his suit on her fingertips. Slowly they start to move to the music. Some other dancers are chatting, but Victoria remains awkwardly stiff and silent. James spins her around and her hair sways softly with the rhythm while James’ stays perfectly in shape. No wonder, his hair is slicked back just like his personality. They pick up some pace and James swings Victoria smoothly along the dance floor while his hand glides slowly down her waist and he pulls her a bit closer. Unease spreads inside her body and she tries hard not to gag. James pushes her really to the edge and she doesn’t know how much she can handle anymore.

“This party of yours is very lovely, just like you!” James compliments and now she almost gags but she swallows the lump in her throat down. In response she can only nod because she’s not sure if she can answer with actual words.

“There’s something I wanted to ask you…Our parents have already discussed this and since it’s your debutant party I thought this would be the right time. So, we have known each other for a long time now and our families are both wealthy and have great influence, but we could broaden our influence if we would combine our forces.” James explains but Victoria stares at him blankly, not knowing where he’s going with this. Usually, her father is responsible for business decisions.

He blushes slightly as he sees her confused expression. “Victoria….” James ceases to move and holds Victoria still in front of him while he slowly sinks down on his knee holding her right hand in his. “Would you do me the honor and marry me?” James asks and pulls out a jewelry box from his front tuxedo pocket, revealing an engagement ring with a grand diamond. Everyone in the room freezes again, staring at both with curious eyes.

This time, reality does freeze for Victoria. Her mouth falls open and her emotions are raging inside of her. She doesn’t know what to feel: shocked, angry, overwhelmed, hate. Everything falls apart, her world is crumbling down in pieces in front of her. The longer she stays silent the more curious her guests are getting, waiting for a response. James looks at her expectantly as well, though slightly insecure because she hasn’t answered yet. Victoria glances around the room, perceiving all the set of eyes on her and the pressure is too much for her to bear. A sickening feeling crawls it’s way upwards leaving her cold and all the color drains from her face. She can’t take this any longer or she’s really going to throw up. Overwhelmed she takes a step back.

“I’m….I’m…..” She stutters but no words come out of her mouth.

“Victoria? Are you alright? You look pale?” James straightens himself and speaks in a low voice, closing the space between them.  Victoria back away again.

“Pardon me! I can’t do this! I am not feeling well!” Victoria clutters and James looks at her confused. “Excuse me!”

The room fills with distinct murmuring of dismay, some guest take a sharp intake of breath. Victoria turns around and runs through the crowd towards the exit, escaping this situation and leaving everything behind.

In her room, Victoria takes a few steadying breaths and tears roll down her cheeks. Reminding herself that she doesn’t have much time she swipes them away and hurries over to her chest of drawers in the back corner of her room and pulls out a large black cloak. Putting it around her body she pulls the hood over her head and kneels in front of her poster bed. From underneath her bed she pulls out a small emergency bag and throws it on her back. She prepared this emergency bag a long time ago in case something like this would ever happen and she had to disappear for good. Standing up she takes one last glance at her spoiled bedroom and everything she’s leaving behind. Sadness fills her chest about the fact that she must leave her family but after everything that had happened today, she would never see them again. She failed and degraded her family and she could never live with the disappointment she brought upon her family.

“Goodbye, my old life!” Victoria whispers and leaves her room behind.

Sneaking out of the mansion was easier than she would’ve supposed. Then again, she is using the secret emergency tunnels of their mansion, where she used to play as a child, and of course she takes her horse with her. The streets are empty at this time, but it’s for the better so she can escape without being noticed. She rides through the dark, lantern lit alleys of Kensington to get to the working-class neighborhood, where her hideout awaits her. After half an hour she arrives at a rundown house with a big wooden barn door. Inside, everything is dark. Getting down from Percival, her horse, she picks up a few pebbles from the floor and throws them at the left window on the second floor before she enters the barn door. A squeaking sound appears as the barn door opens. Victoria leads Percival over to her right where’s a makeshift stable and turns a switch on a timber joist. Light fills the sparse room and reveals a mechanical/inventor workshop. Tools are spread over the room; wooden worktables are here and there, and the stone floor is mostly covered with hay. The ceiling is propped up from wooden beams and some lightbulbs are fixed upon them. Victoria throws her bag on one of the tables and removes the cloak from her shoulder as she walks towards a canvas in the back corner of the room. Underneath the canvas, something big is hidden. Excitement spreads in her body at the thought of what she’s about to do. A voice chimes from behind her and footsteps come to a halt.

“What the hell is going on it’s in the middle of the night….!” A raspy male voice complains. “Well, that’s an odd view!” The man says and eyes Victoria from top to bottom while she’s still in her ball gown. She turns around and faces the man.

“I’m sorry Jasper, but it’s urgent. I had no choice! We have to leave, now!” She emphasizes and Jasper raises an eyebrow and points towards her dress.

She rolls her eyes. “I didn’t have the chance to change!”

“Okay, slow down and tell me exactly what’s going on!” He responds and rubs away the sleep from his eyes. He’s still dressed in his pyjamas. Victoria approaches him and explains him exactly what happened while he puts on a dark trouser and a white, stained linen shirt. As Victoria finishes her story Jasper is silent for a moment.

“Wow, he proposed to you! No wonder you freaked out!” Jasper states apathetic and runs his fingers through his dishevelled dirty blond hair.

Victoria throws her hands annoyed into the air. “You don’t understand, I can’t marry him and you know why!” She hisses and turns away. “So, we have to leave now! I can’t stay here. I have to go away as far as possible.”

Jasper crosses his arms in front of her. “And why exactly should I come with you, Mylady?” He scorns.

“Stop this nonsense Jasper!” Victoria argues.

“What nonsense?” He responds.

“This! You are being a douchebag.” She says. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing!” He just shrugs.

Victoria rolls her eyes. “Fine, if you want to stay here, please be my guest. But I am definitely not staying. I am done with my old life. I finally want to do what I love, invent things and explore the world without having to fulfill stupid expectations. This is who I really am and not this stupid spoiled girl in fancy dresses.” She rips open her corset and tosses it to the ground followed by all the layers of petticoats.” Stomping over to her bag she pulls out beige trousers, a dark linen shirt and a dark brown leather jacket and puts them on. “I am going tonight with our without you; with this!” She points to the thing beneath the canvas.

“The hell you are!” He raises his voice and stomps towards her. “This belongs to me!”

“Excuse me?” She responds outraged.

“It’s mine!” He argues.

“No, it’s not. It was my idea. I invented most of it!” She crosses her arms and take a defensive stature.

“No, it’s mine!”

“Stop lying! It was my idea. You know I always dreamed about flying when I was a child. I always wanted to fly with birds. That’s why I invented this thing because I want to live my dream and experience flying myself, but you would never know anything about it because you’re not dreaming or rather following them. You are just a coward who’s afraid to change his life and make it better!” Victoria rages and storms over to the canvas and pulls it away revealing a prototype of an aviation apparatus. The flying device looks similar to a hot air balloon but it’s elongated, more like the hull of ship. On top of the wooden hull is balloon-type cover which is also filled with hot air.

Jasper is dumbfounded at her comment and his blood is boiling, his face turning red for anger. “I’m sorry princess but people like me don’t have the time to dream because we actually have to work so we can survive. I don’t have a wealthy father who pays for every stupid thing in my life. I have to support myself and my family on my own at a job with low income, so I am sorry that I can’t fulfill my dreams.” He shouts and kicks some pebbles with his foot.

Victoria is silent and feels immediately bad for her remark. “Pardon me! I…I have never looked at it from your point of view!” She feels silly and naïve. “You’re right! I am stupid. I threw away all my fathers’ money just to fly in the air like a bird.”

Jasper calms down and walks over to her. “You’re not stupid. You are one of the smartest rich people I have ever met. And don’t feel stupid for throwing away all that money. I think it was brave to make that move and though all this money comes with a price, considering you would have to marry Sir Cavendish!” Jasper mocks and a laugh escapes Victoria’s mouth.

“So, do you want to come with me? It would be much more fun with a companion!” Victoria asks innocently.

“Hell yes! Do you think I would let you fly by yourself? Without me you’d probably just crash down!” Jasper laughs and she shoots him an angry glare. “Just joking! Let me grab some things and then we can test this thing. I am ready for an adventure.” Jasper leaves the barn.

While Jasper is absent Victoria opens the back barn doors which lead to a acre which stretches for a few yards and pulls their aviation device outside. Jasper joins Victoria and admires their work. Victoria glances over her shoulder back to the barn. “What about Percival?” She asks worried.

“Don’t worry. My family will take care of him. They could use him for their farm work.” Jasper answers and Victoria nods. “You ready?”

“Just a moment!” Victoria hurries back inside, says goodbye to her horse and grabs her bag from the table. “I’m ready!” She climbs inside the hull of the device.

Jasper grabs his stuff and tosses it onto the hull. “What did you tell your family?” He asks out of the blue.

“I left them a note saying I am sorry for what I did and that I can’t live like this anymore and that I am leaving. Also, I said they shouldn’t worry about me and that I will be fine. What about you?” She responds.

“Not much! I just said I am gone for a short period of time. But then, it’s nothing new for my family if I disappear.” He answers and puts the balloon thingy in place and ignites the burner.

“You ready?” Jasper asks and Victoria nod eagerly with excitement.

The balloon fills with air and the hull sways back and forth. Victoria loses her footing but Jasper catches her.

“Thank you!” She says and Jasper nods.

Jasper hurries around readying the device for their flight. Victoria tries to help but Jasper doesn’t let her do anything. After a few more minutes the device starts to ascend.

Victoria gasps fascinated and Jasper chuckles with victory. They both look down the railing, floating higher into the air as the sight of London beneath them starts to shrink. Stunned, Victoria takes in everything she can. She has never been this high in the air. A calmness fills her heart and she lets out a long deep breath. She has never felt like this before and it feels amazing. Resting her head on top of her hands on the railing and stares at the Rooftops that drift past them. Clouds are floating next to them and Victoria tries to touch them. The city sparkles in shining lights beneath them. She spots the Big Ben Tower and the Parliament. Still, she can’t quite process that they really did it and she turns towards Jasper.

“We did it!” Victoria cheers disbelievingly and Jasper smiles. He follows her gaze.

“Yes, it’s unbelievable!” He stuns as well. “But we are still not clear! We’re still over the city and the weather doesn’t look very well over there!” He points toward the oceans and big thunderclouds are covering the sky in the horizon.

“Let me guess, we are headed for the ocean?” She asks and Jasper nods.

“We are sailing, uhm, floating toward Isle of Sheppey and then we are headed for whatever lies on the other side of the ocean.” Jasper answers.

Victoria stares at the ocean on the horizon and wonders what’s beyond the clouded ocean. Maybe there’s a country where she can settle down and start a new life. Her eyes light up by the thought what might await her on the other side of the ocean.  Dreamily, she stares at the distance and imagines what her new life could be. A wide grin spreads across her face and Jasper observes her from the corner of his eye and can’t help but to smile at the sight of her.

A few hours have passed, Jasper was busy with flying and steering their airship while Victoria soaked in the view and the breeze on her hair and skin, relishing everything. She never felt this sensation of calmness.

“It’s so amazing. I could be up here forever.” Victoria muses and glances at Jasper.

“Yeah it is pretty awesome!” He answers and joins her at the railing enjoying the view.

“Look, there! We’re almost by the ocean!” She points ahead of her where the Themes slowly floats into the sea.

Jasper nods but is wary as he sees the dark clouds ahead of them. “Still, we have to be cautious. The clouds aren’t looking any better.

“Don’t worry! Everything will be fine! I can almost feel the adventure ahead of us!” She says joyful what makes Jasper chuckle.

“Alright! If you say so!” Jasper responds.

“What expectations do you have? What do you hope to find over there?” Victoria gazes into his green eyes.

Jasper is silent for a moment. “I haven’t really thought about it. Maybe a job which pays better and where everyone is treated equally. No society differences. I don’t know maybe find love, settle down and start a family.” He dreams and eyes Victoria from the corner of his eyes while she stares into the horizon.

“That sounds lovely!” Victoria answers.

“What about you?” Jasper asks in return.

“I just want to explore the world and live my life on my terms. I am tired of being pressured into being someone I am not, either by my family or society. I just want to be free and be myself!” She answers truly from the bottom of her heart. Jasper gazes at her understanding, knowing what she’s talking about.

Everything seems perfect as all of a sudden, the airship starts to waver and a rumbling sound echoes through the night sky. Victoria braces herself and clutches the railing as the ship starts to waver more frequently. They both lose their footing.

“What’s going on?” Victoria asks worried. Jasper pushes himself up from the floor and runs towards the steering wheel.

“We are getting inside the thunderstorm. This could get a little uncomfortable.” He shouts over the heavy wind.  Victoria pushes towards Jasper, her heart beating fast.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” She asks panicked.

“Take the wheel. You’re going to steer, while I try to keep the fire alive.” He shouts and they switch places.

Rain starts pouring down, first slowly but then it gets heavier per minute. A thunder rumbles through the air followed by a lightning bolt and the hull starts to quiver heavily.

“Ahhh!” A scream escapes Victoria as she loses her grip and the ship steers sideways.

Her body is soaking wet and she starts to shiver. The temperature drops a few degrees. Everything’s slippery and with all the water coming down Jasper has difficulties keeping the fire alive. Getting the ship straight again she grips the wheel and braces for the next quiver. The ship wavers from side to side and a bolt hits the ship, reverberating through the wood. Victoria’s heart pumps heavy in her chest; she’s terrified. Anxiety puts a hold on Victoria and for the first time she’s worried they’re not surviving. Rain pours down hard on the ship and Jasper can’t keep the flame alive, it’s dead. Suddenly the ship drops down a few yards, losing air and sinking towards the bottom.

Victoria shrieks. “We’re not going to make it! We’re crashing down!” Panicked, she runs around trying to do something but she’s helpless. Her mind is spinning heavy inside her head. Good memories pass inside her head of her childhood and her family. Sadness fills her as she thinks about her family, they would never know if she’d die. Then, she thought about everything she’s going to lose if she didn’t survive. Her chance of a free future. She doesn’t want to die and something ignites inside of her.

Jasper pulls himself up and tries hopelessly to ignite the fire again. “Come on! Come on! Damn it, burn!” He shouts. 

Still crashing down, Victoria hurries over to the edge of the railing where some utensils lie around. She rummages through the pile, looking for something she could use to block the rain. Daringly, she watches over the railing, sees how fast the earth rushes towards them, how much height they’ve already lost. Sweat builds on top of her forehead and she swallows down a lump.

“Come on, there has to be something we can use!” She swears and glances hastily back and forth.

“Damn it!” Jasper shouts and he’s panicked as well. He looks desperate and lost.

Victoria’s eyes scrutinize every centimeter of the ship. She doesn’t want to lose; she wants to fulfill her dream and she wants Jasper to live his dreams as well. Almost giving up, she gets up as something catches her eye.

“Of course!” She shouts and runs over to where she was watching. Grabbing the awning, which covered the ship in the barn, she storms to Jasper.

“We can attach this around the fire!” She explains and gets to work.

Hesitant, she fixes one end after the other until she has attached every loop. Jasper tries to ignite the fire again and this time it’s staying alive.

“Hurray!” The both cheer in unison.

The balloon fills with air again and the fall steadies, getting slower. Relief fills Victoria’s chest and she’s exhausted.

“I’m glad we made it!” She says and glances around, frowning.

The ship slowed down, the balloon is filling with air again but they’re still sinking. Confused, Victoria is looking for the cause.

“Why are we still going down?” She asks worried. Jasper is as befuddled as her and also takes a look around. He notices a hissing sound and looks above them.

“Perfect!” He says with sarcasm. “The balloon has a fissure!” He exclaims. “We have to fix it somehow or else we’re going to land in the ocean soon!” Jasper runs upsetting his fingers through his hair.

While Jasper looks hopeless Victoria grabs a hold of the rope and starts to climb toward the cotton of the balloon. Without further ado, she pulls herself up using the rope which are tied around the cotton.

“What are you going to do?” Jasper shouts but she’s ignoring him, climbing higher until she reaches the fissure.

From the pocket of her jacket she pulls out a needle and some thread and starts to sew the cotton back together. Stitch after stitch, the balloon keeps more and more air inside.

Stunned, Jasper stares at Victoria, his mouth drops open. After a few more stitches the fissure is fixed and the airship is again steadyly floating in a calming speed. Victoria lets go of the rope and drops down on the floor, landing on her feet.

Victorious, she puts her needle back inside her pocket, staring at a still stunned Jasper.

“Where did you learn to sew?” He asks thrown upside down.

Victoria just shrugs as if it’s nothing special. “My mother taught me!” She answers and went over to the machinery to check if everything is fine. The machinery works well, and she glances at the horizon.

The sky brightens up, clouds are vanishing. They’re leaving the storm behind them and are looking at a bright view ahead. Sunrays are gracing their skin, just like the sun’s smiling at them and congratulating them on their victory. Underneath the ocean sparkles and reflects the bright light. Leaning on the railing, Victoria takes a deep calming breath, soaking in the fresh air and relaxing her nerves. Jasper joins her, taking in the view as well.

“Wow, I can’t believe we really survived this. And to think that you saved us!” Jasper says and Victoria nudges him angrily with her elbow.

“Hey, that’s not nice! I have just saved your life. A thank you would suffice!” She defies.

Jasper blushes. “No, I didn’t mean it like that! I meant…never mind! Thank you!” He answers and Victoria grins viciously.

Lost in their thoughts, they both just stare ahead, processing everything that had happened and is going to happen. The ship slowly sails towards the other end of the ocean, leaving everything bad behind.

Something glitters at the end of the horizon. Victoria’s eyes light up with excitement. “Look over there!” She points towards the end of their sight and stares at Jasper. His eyes light up as well and he meets her eyes. They both share a knowing glance and look ahead again, considering what might await them on the land they’re going to explore.  

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