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Hemophilia: Of Blood, Sweat, Semen & Other Body Fluids

By John Lapine

On a July afternoon in 1828, Flag Lieutenant Robert FitzRoy, the twenty-three-year-old son of English aristocrats, stood aboard the deck of the HMS Beagle alongside Captain Pringle Stokes.

After nearly two years at sea together, and surviving through a bitter winter navigating the Straits of Magellan, the men shared a sigh, staring into the sapphire saltwater of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. The South American hillsides were verdant and alive, the mountains capped with snow. But while FitzRoy saw the beginning of a long adventure, he could never know what Stokes saw: two more long years at sea, no way back home to Surrey in southern England. No escape. Stokes had agreed to captain the Beagle on its first voyage; however, when the journey proved treacherous and desolate and lonely, Stokes fell into a depression.

That night, Stokes closed the door to his captain’s cabin and locked the door. By mid-morning, he’d still not emerged. FitzRoy was surprised when Stokes missed breakfast, and the crew worried. After navigating through the archipelago that morning, FitzRoy headed below deck. Crouching, he descended the hallway to find the captain’s door still locked. He knocked. No answer. He tried again and no answer. The crew was leaderless, but experienced; they finished the day without him.

About the Author

John Lapine earned his MA in creative writing and pedagogy from Northern Michigan University (NMU), where he volunteered as an associate editor of creative nonfiction and poetry for the literary journal Passages North. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rising Phoenix Review, Hot Metal Bridge, The Temz Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Rhythm & Bones, Midwestern Gothic, and elsewhere. He teaches English at Butte College.