Death loves Anya Ward. In her sixteen years of life, Anya has witnessed the untimely deaths of four sets of parents. Declaring her un-adoptable, the state itself took her in. Sent on a cruise by her new “family”, things are looking up for the girl with an unfortunate history. That is, until pirates attack, and Anya finds herself lost at sea with an unlikely group of misfit companions. But something is amiss on the ocean, and Anya’s journey home is looking just as grim and mysterious as her past.
The Odyssey with a teenage twist, Anya’s Ocean is an epic tale of an orphaned girl lost at sea and the secret behind the misfortune that follows her.
Anya’s Ocean is currently on the market for representation.
Begend: the moment where things go wrong.
It’s not a real word, but what does it matter to her? Real words aren’t real until someone says them out loud.
She brushes wandering strands of black hair from her face and pens her word into the cramped squares of twenty across. She’s always loved crossword puzzles, but found the questions too easy. That’s why she makes up her own words. It’s one thing to follow the rules set out by some nameless gamemaster, it’s entirely another to take the game into your own hands. Besides, the girl thinks it makes the task more challenging.
She’s a clever little thing, or at least that’s what other people say. People say a lot about the young girl in the lounge chair. They say she’s giving, caring, and pretty with her wavy, bobbed black hair and ivory skin. Everywhere she goes people say something about her—when you’re famous that tends to happen—but there is one thing no one ever calls her: lucky.
When Anya Ward was one-and-three-quarter years old her parents died in a car accident. She was in the back, strapped into her child seat when the twelve ton dump truck ran a red light. Her parents’ blue four-door sedan had come out of the collision a compact, totaled beyond all recognition. But somewhere within the twisted hell that was left on a darkening street, little Anya’s child seat had fallen to the side due to a faulty seatbelt that had been recalled by the dealership months earlier. A misprinted change of address form had directed all notices back to sender. Even when they fail, seatbelts save lives.
From the moment the toddler was pulled from the wreckage without so much as a scratch, Anya was in the public eye. The miracle child who cheated death made the front page of every newspaper from Florida to Washington, but to the surprise of several proofreaders, the word lucky was never used—not even once.
With no extended family, the child was shipped to Saint Reparata Children’s Orphanage, a disheveled old Victorian mansion converted into a children’s home in the 1960’s when the state handed it over to the church.
Little Anya didn’t have to stay in the wide halls of Saint Reparata for too long; people from all over were clamoring to adopt the famous child who cheated death. That’s what they thought anyway.
At the age of two, Anya Ward became Anya Harrison, daughter to one of the wealthiest couples in the Southeast. For a year and nine months, young Anya was pampered, praised, and spoiled. Little more could be offered to a toddler—save for her parents’ time. That kind of money doesn’t come from playing with a baby. Regardless of neglect, things were going well enough until one frigid December night when a curious ember strayed too far from its candle’s wick.
When the fire brigade arrived, it was too late. The entire mansion was a glowing inferno and the spacious interior did nothing to help the trapped residents. The bodies of six maids and the two Harrisons were recovered several hours after the coarse ashes of destruction had settled. The little miracle girl, however, was found much earlier. She was curled up with Mr. Harrison’s prized racing hound’s new puppies in the little kennel on the other side of the estate. The barking had alerted the marshals with enough time to save the animals. She’s had a soft spot for dogs ever since.
The media’s opinion began to turn as Anya Ward was sent back to Saint Reparata. It appeared as though people were more hesitant to adopt a girl who’d lost two sets of parents. That’s why she ended up spending three years with Jacob and Eileen Taylor, the curators of Taylor’s Traveling Circus. The traveling Taylors loved their newest edition. People said that the circus life prevented Eileen from ever having a child of her own; others guessed that a little girl who could defy death would be quite the attraction given time to grow up. Disappointingly, no one ever got to find out for sure.
Maybe they shouldn’t have tried to debut the girl on her sixth birthday, or maybe they shouldn’t have bought an elephant on the cheap from some shady dealer who wore sunglasses to a meeting at two in the morning. Regardless, the results were the same. When the camera flashbulbs got to firing they spooked the newly acquired pachyderm, and it started rampaging across the center ring. It was a wonder the little girl in the pink, feathered leotard made it out intact. Many of the circus’ investors wished the same thing could’ve been said for the Taylors.
Anya’s third stint at Saint Reparata was the worst. With the investigation that followed the untimely demise of her third parental guardians, most people were too afraid to adopt the daughter of death—a not so clever name thought up by a shady tabloid that also reported on Big Foot sightings and alien abductions.
The kids had it out for her, too. A six-year-old with a bad track record and a circus background doesn’t make friends easily. Even after cleared of any wrongdoing, she wasn’t adopted again until she was eleven.
Anya McCoy didn’t have much love for her new parents. It wasn’t their fault really; Henry and Mark were great. They were first in line when same-sex couples were allowed to marry, quicker still when they were allowed to adopt. So, when they saw Anya, an outcast at the age of eleven, they leapt at the chance to embrace the orphan whom everyone had given up on. The problem with the McCoys was that she never met them, save for when they signed her papers. On the day they were supposed to pick her up, they simply didn’t show. An important man had said something about a “burglary gone wrong” and about how it was “funny” Anya’s papers had taken that extra day.
After the final incident, the state declared her unadoptable. It was the first time the government had gone so far, and while there was no evidence Anya had any hand in the unfortunate accidents that followed her throughout life, the state didn’t want to take any more chances. There was even a movie made about a little girl who went from home to home murdering her adoptive parents. No one wanted to risk their life on the girl who always lived.
Now, this kind of revelation would have crushed most children, but not little Anya Ward. She turned the tragedy of her life into a campaign of positivity. She became a mentor for the younger kids at Saint Reparata, helping them with school work and chores. She volunteered at the homeless shelter and worked in a grief counseling center for teens. She spoke at schools about dealing with loss and even fostered dogs from the local shelter with what little coin she took in from charity work.
By the age of thirteen, the public had changed their tune on the unadoptable orphan girl. They saw her as something more than a tragic tale: they saw her as a daughter. That’s how she ended up with her most enduring name: Anya Ward of the State.
at first—sending the pale, dark haired girl who had trick-or-treated as Snow White for the last five years out under the sun for a week. Like everything, though, she decided to try and make the best of it. A positive attitude had served her well so far.
“Oh, twenty-four down—sunny disposition: grinshine.”
She rolls up the hem of her old blue jeans and lets the sun work into her legs. Dangling her boot from her toes, Anya tugs on the collar of her white V-neck shirt and straightens the worn red bow in her hair. The bow matches her favorite leather jacket, the one that once belonged to her mother—her first mother.
Another tourist scans her with a curious eye. She can’t blame them. With her clothes and the black eyeliner drawn around the edges of her green eyes, she doesn’t exactly look like the average sea-goer. But who throws a teenage girl on a boat in the middle of November and expects her to have the right clothes.
Despite the lack of correct dress, she’s warmed up to the sea in the few days that had already passed. She’s spent most of her time on the top deck, but solo rounds of shuffleboard, movie screenings, and all-you-can-eat soft serve ice cream have their considerable merits. The Sisters at the orphanage wouldn’t be too happy about all her lack of socialization, but they were literally an ocean away. Maybe that’s why she can’t help but feel a little awkward when the smiling pool boy offers her a glass filled with more fruit than drink.
“No thank you. I, um, don’t have any cash on me.” He’s the first person she’s talked to today and her voice comes out gravelly.
“But it’s on the house, Ms. Ward.”
He places the glass on the small side table with practiced grace. When she looks up at him he stands at attention, brushes his sun-bleached hair from his face, flashes a perfect smile, and winks before walking away with obvious swagger.
It takes considerable effort to keep from vomiting.
Her disgust comes from quite a few places. First, she can’t stand anyone who thinks that highly of themselves. Let’s be honest, there is no way teeth can be that naturally white, and while she has no problem with beauty, she detests those who treat it like a privilege. Second, Anya rarely trusts anyone who knows her name before she can tell it to them. Fame isn’t something the tabloid starlet ever took kindly, moreso when the spotlight shines from an over processed boy on a pool deck. Finally, she doesn’t like to get too close to people—that one doesn’t need much explaining.
A short battle with a tiny paper umbrella pulls her from her thoughts, and she takes a sip of the neon drink left behind. It tastes like roses and citrus disinfectant. She sets the drink back down and sinks into her seat. Her bow lurches forward as her head slides down the wicker chair’s back, combing wavy strands of black hair over her eyes. In darkness there’s only the melodic sound of passing waves as the ship churns through the water. The rhythmic water’s orchestra and the subtle brush of the sun dips the girl into a deep relaxation. That’s probably why the sudden cry of warning sirens catches her off guard.