Saturday, August 7, 2010

Insatiable Sea

{This is a short story I wrote a couple of months ago. I have never really written anything like this before. I would like to think it is good, but I highly doubt it is.}

I don’t know how long I stood there gazing out into the cold, uncaring sea. A bitter taste lingered in the air and in my mouth. The wind roughly pulled my hair & skirts about. I was frozen to the bone. To the heart as well. I didn’t think I could ever move from that spot again. I would just stand there forever - too stiff to feel.
I wanted to throw myself into the ocean, that insatiable monster.
“Take me as well! How many do you need until you’re appeased?” My mind was screaming… but I couldn’t make my mouth from the words.
I wondered how long I could gaze upon this thing I‘m so afraid of. I felt I could brazenly face the most terrible of monsters or disasters… but I always felt a gnawing fear when near this smothering expanse of water. Always I had feared the worst. And now…. It had come….
I closed my eyes trying to shut out everything.
I inwardly jumped and opened my eyes, slowly turning towards the tentative voice. I stared at the man who stood there in nervous expectancy. I didn’t care what he had to say. It wouldn’t change anything.“Er, th-they have everything ready,” he stuttered. I read sympathy on his face but I didn’t want his, or anyone’s, sympathy.
We slowly walked down the hill; away from my overlook and away from the sea. But my sadness followed us down. We approached the crowd of silent men, weeping women and children. I knew they felt the same pain as I but, I bitterly reflected, I had no baby to hold to my breast, no child clinging to my skirts giving me a purpose for my future.
Sheets hid the recovered bodies. The sea, though she took the life from these men, couldn’t keep what remained. Not a fair trade, but the sea has never been just.
I heard myself speaking, “I want to see his body.”The men who stood nearby exchanged glances, all of them avoided meeting my gaze.
One uneasily cleared his throat. “Are you sure?” he ventured.
I lifted my head higher. “Yes. I am sure.”
The man reluctantly went to one of the covered bodies and pulled away the sheet. No one wanted to watch, they all turned away. The man respectfully left me alone.
I knelt down and stared into the face of my husband. He was so pale, so cold. This couldn’t be my husband. My husband was always so warm, so full of joy. I remembered how gaily he had sung his favourite, rowdy sea songs while whirling me around in a breathless, happy dance. We would always end up collapsing, doubled over with laughter.
When I was sad, he would tenderly wipe away my tears. His fingers were rough from his life at sea, but they could be so gentle. He never failed to make me feel better. Even my fear of the sea seemed silly when he was near me. Whenever he left on voyages, I was never completely happy until he was home with me, safe. Brutally, the thought occurred to me that nevermore would I have to worry about him…
Then, I could no longer hold back the tears, I started to cry. Not the loud sobs of the other women, but a silent flow of sorrow. Each tear that fell hurt like a dagger in my heart.
Accursed sea! Insatiable horror! You had no right to him. He was mine.
I softly brushed his cheek with a finger. “You were mine,” I whispered, hardly realizing what I was saying. Forlornly, I knelt there for a while till, with blurred vision, I moved the sheet back over him.
Rising, I heard murmurs of conversation. Plans for “cremation… the scattering of ashes in the sea. Seems natural… these men were some of the greatest sailors in the world....”
An iron hand seemed to clutch my throat in a tight hold.
“No,” I said. My voice sounded harsh. “I will have a proper burial for my husband.
"Knowing my wish would be obeyed, I felt I had no reason to stay longer. I swept away leaving all looking after me, pitying me, I was sure.
Quickly, I walked to the house that had been our home . My sadness still pursued me. I fumed to myself. “Scattering my husband’s ashes in the ocean, my enemy, would be like surrendering to her cruel ways – telling her she had won.”
“No,” I thought, “I must bury him as far from the ocean as I can. Somewhere where I can visit… because even though he is gone, he is still mine.” I felt almost defiant towards the sea. “He is still mineand he will be forever.”

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Silhouettes of a secret. A story told over a cuppa. Or perhaps just sitting on that stone bench, basking in the moonlight... and not saying anything at all.

("I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks." -Shakespeare, Twelfth Night)