Fantasy Fiction Sad

Come, see with my eyes.

An endless expanse of water, white flecked with laughing foam, reckless swell heaving across a 1000-mile wake. The sun is kind today. Its lended warmth is smiling and caressing, carried by a gentle wind and spreading its net across the vast, empty blue ocean.

It is not always so. 

Sometimes the sun hides its face.

Sometimes the wind has teeth.

Sometimes, the water rages in towering chaos waves that crash and thunder.

Ships do not come here. The mark of presence is only present in the floating junk yards of the discarded and lost, the dumped and the refuse of careless humanity.

And here, a dot on the horizon, marked by low glowering clouds. Let’s go nearer.

Down, down towards the surface of the misleading water; there are hints of cruelty in the laughing foam. Now, speed along with the wind, the gentle wind with its sheathed fangs and retracted claws.

Now look; the dot is becoming clearer. Now a green smudge, now comes the focus point that is resolving itself into towering granite cliffs, topped with lush trees clinging desperately to the thin soil. And over we go, the conical centre of this tiny landmass testament to its volcanic origins. An island that has pushed its way up and intruded on the empty sea with its hard, brash presence.

Slow now, circle the island, see the ragged rupture that mars the cliff’s high protectionism, leading down to a sandy inlet that offers a furtive entranceway to the jealous privacy beyond.

There is a cave. There, about half way up the cracked rock. See the puny thread of smoke that escapes the entranceway, the carefully placed stones that act as a staircase. Here, the chaos has been partially tamed. Let us look closer…

The entrance is a gash in the rock, ragged and sharp edged. It is dark inside, we must let our eyes adjust after the bright exterior. Now, the shadows slowly resolve. A neat interior, lined and carpeted with the pirated long leaves from the desperate trees. Crude carpentry has formed a line of shelves along one wall, a low bed covered in dark green ferns, and there…in the corner…a chair. Hear the sound of indrawn breath, turn, and there he is. Crouching over a smoky, flickering fire pit, a spitted fish slowly cooking in the paltry heat.

‘Is, is there someone there?’. The voice is croaky, cracked and unused to voicing the words that swirl in his mind. Draw back a little, into the deeper shadow, he is aware of our presence.

A moment when his eyes are alight with fear, and hope, then it drains away. The hopelessness swims back, flooding him once more. He turns back to his task.

Ah, look over there…no, the other wall, see the scratched marks? He has been marking the days of his exile from the life of the world. Count them, hundreds of despairing lines, drawn in sooty disconsolation. 4 years, 5, 6, 7. Seven years of exile, seven years of frantic calculation. It is his fraying life-line to a sanity that has slipped from his grasp un-noticed. A line that stretches back to the first day, to his forced arrival in this place. An intruder that came to an intruder. A boat lost, companions gone, a life and a past blown away by the cunning wind and artful waves.

He has finished eating…he is crawling towards that Tally Wall, a smoking stick held meaningfully in one hand. Careful now, draw back further into the shadow, he must not see us. We have intruded on his dream, he must not trespass on ours, not yet.

Watch his ritual, kneeling in supplication before the wall. His eyes flicker back and forth, counting again, tallying his time, gripping the lifeline of a sanity that has already snapped, unknowing. A trembling arm lifting the stick, a rambling muttering, the flickering shadows dancing on the walls. Slowly, deliberately, he makes another mark, and then rocks back on his heels, a soft sigh escaping his long dry lips.

Feel the cloud of his desperation, the inner storm of his hopelessness, the crashing thunder of his despair warring constantly on the deeply hidden, oh so precious, dwindling spark of barely admitted hope. See the tears leak slowly from his deeply creased eyes.

It is all too cruel. Oh, I hear your longing, your vicarious need. You have seen with me, but want so much more. Then, let it be. Wait…watch the eyes droop…wait for them to shut…and…now. We strike swift, a brief wave and the surface of the wall ripples with unreality.

Now, see the eyes, widening in surprise. The mouth drops open, a gargle of unintelligible sound ripped from his throat. The Tally Wall is blank. The carefully etched lines, drawn day after day, month after month, year after year, providing a continuity, a pathway back to a time when his life was near to him, his memories of love, and friends and home, so much closer; now gone. A truncation of his continuity, a denial of all that has gone before.

The gargled sound is growing, undulating, climbing into a cracked, drawn-out scream. Draw further back, give him room, the moment is near now.

He stands, disbelieving, and turns suddenly. Now he sees us.

Eyes wide, shocked, shocking. Then, the tenseness relaxes, all of a sudden, pours away from his body in a rush. Ah, there it is, the light of long-denied understanding blooms in his startled face. He shudders, and a smile begins to form uncertainly on long unused lips.

The Tally Wall is rippling again, a cascade of twinkling lights, whirling in a frantic abandon. Brighter and brighter, shield your eyes from its brilliance. He turns. Steps forward. And is folded into the shadowless torrent.

He has gone. Slowly, slowly step back with me. See the cave again with my eyes. Bare rock wall, raw with condensation, no wood, no furniture, no fire.

Draw back further, outside we go, no crude steps to mark the entranceway. Now we swoop down, down to the diminutive beach where the waves march endlessly up onto the grey, gritty sand. Can you see over by the rocks? There, no, further along. The sunbleached skeletal bones of a once-boat, ripped and dragged across sharp rocks that bit the life from it.

And in the small rock pool, the one protected by the granite slab long-fallen from the clifftop heights, white bones jarring in the sand. Died here, he did, seven long years ago. Saw it, I did. Saw his restless spirit ripped from the body, and all unknowing, march up towards the cave.

Now, we are done. Our work is complete. Back again, and up, up into a star-filled sky. Back you go, back from whence you came, and I must go on. Again.


January 01, 2021 21:45

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