Yew Winters hated his name. When he asked his parents about its origins, they fondly told him his mother gave birth under a yew tree. He’d have rather been named Tree.
As soon as his sixteenth birthday, Yew ran away from his home in Wintermill and journeyed northwest until he met Merrilea Sea. Whoever knew sand could be so warm and the sun’s heat could toast his skin to a golden brown? On that beach, Yew abandoned his name and vowed to go only by his surname.
Winters breathed in the tangy, salty air. An undercurrent of rotting fish punctuated the air’s freshness, but he’d grown used to it. For the past forty-seven days he’d spent at sea. Far too long for a man to be away from land. When the ship pulled into the harbor, he nearly kissed the ground once he disembarked. Yes, he had been gone for too long.
Winters pointed to himself. Who was this man calling him?
“Yes, you, yonder by the ship.”
Yew. Winters froze at that name, as if he’d fallen into Wintermill’s icy lake. His breath caught in his throat. “What did you call me?”
The man lifted his hands—palms toward Winters—and backed away. “I was just wondering if a young lad as yourself wanted to know where the tavern was. Do I know you?”
He bristled at the “Yew” again. “Listen here, stop calling me Yew.”
The man’s eyes crossed. “You? My name’s Pert.”
“Oh.” Winters realized his mistake between the word “you” and his former name as guilt gnawed on his innards. “Sorry, never mind.”
Kaleb, a fellow seaman, came up and clasped him on the shoulder. “So, your real name is Yew, is it? Like the tree?”
Should he cut him now or later? Winters glared at the two men. Damn Yew! “Shut up.”
Would he ever be rid of a name as dreadful as Yew?