Asturias Travel Blog

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                                           A SEA TALE (part-2)


In the middle of a distant ocean a ship is fighting with mountainous waves and furious, unending gusts of wind. The rain pelts down on the deck and the old timbers creak as the flimsy ship is tossed about, its large size dwarfed by the fury of the elements around it, now resembling more a walnut shell rather than the proud seafaring vessel that sailed out of the smooth waters of the harbour. The seamen run about the deck winding the capstans, furling the sails, tying down the cargo that works itself loose from its place and in the infernal din they try unsuccessfully to communicate with shouts and gestures. The dark sea opens up as if to swallow the lurching ship, but the timber vessel is tossed upon the wavecrests, evading the dark depths, slipping out of the crushing embrace of watery arms. Confusion reigns as sailors rush about trying to somehow control the spinning ship and every heart beats hard, every man readies himself for the salty wetness around and below him.

Pale faces with haggard features and drawn mouths greet each other as men try to keep their foothold on the slippery deck and knuckles shine white as they hold the rails and ropes tightly. Alan looks below him, surveying the whole of the deck, high up as he is on the mast, lashed down with rope securing the sails, fighting with the gusts of wind that want to snatch him away. His hands work quickly and the rain washes away the blood from his torn flesh as he battles with rope, sail, wind and rain. An ominous crash clearly heard above the terrible din makes everyone on board turn his gaze to the mainmast and in the unearthly luminescence of intermittent lightning they see the mast topple down into the murky sea depths below. “Man overboard!” The cry of the sailors sounds puny and futile in the crashing of water and wind against timber and flesh. “Man overboard!” A bell sounds feebly in the din and a life preserver is thrown in the water. As if bent upon destruction, as if fate had meant to separate the ship and the mast, mighty gusts of wind quickly push the ship and mast further and further away from one another.

The man tied onto the mast watches in the dark confusion and soon loses sight of the careering ship, mountains of foamy water separating him rapidly from his fellows. He clutches the old timber and holds his breath as he is tossed about by the waves, now on top of the foam and whipped by driving wind and rain, and then dashed deep into the salty waters, the sea above him and around him, an insulating, suffocating blanket. He tries to keep himself from breathing as long as he can but he chokes and swallows water. His ears ring and his will to survive is crushed as the water around him caresses him with cool fingers. He is about to give himself up to the Sea but a remembered sight, the memory of a fragrant embrace, an uttered promise makes him gnash his teeth and hold on more tightly: “...Await me for I shall return to you even if I have to fight old Nick himself...” The mast is thrown high up on wavecrests again and he sputters out the sea-water, coughing and breathing in wet air, surviving, holding on, until the next time when the timber with its human cargo is drawn into the murky waters.
sunshinegetsmehigh says:
Wow, very good! I can't wait to come back tomorrow and read your newest update!
Posted on: Dec 03, 2007
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Caitlin’s wail resounds throughout the silent village and her shrill shrieks echo between the low cottage walls. The other women watch her and their hearts knowing her anguish, go out to her, but at the same time they are grateful, for their menfolk have returned. Better to console than to be consoled. Old Moira watches the sobbing woman and she feels her own grief reawakening; an old wound that never healed, reopening. She has lost a son and a husband, both at the bottom of the sea, both perishing in the same shipwreck. She walks towards the crying woman and slowly she reaches out and clasps her hand. “Leave us! Go, go to your menfolk, they await you, leave us alone!” She commands, her eyes black shutters that demand the privacy of grief. The dark-dressed women stir uneasily in the small room, their waiting sons and husbands awakening feelings of guilt in their breast, as they feel happy, thankful that it is another who is weeping now and not them. One by one, reluctantly, they file out of the room leaving the two women alone with their sorrows. Moira is silent as the door closes softly and she watches the yellow curls of the girl in front of her. She says nothing for there is nothing to say. She knows the way that Caitlin’s heart is being separated from her breast this very moment and that there is little that she can say or do that would be of help. She can only watch and wait and grasp Caitlin’s hand until the girl runs out of tears.

The grey afternoon soon gives way to an early darkness and evening progresses quickly to night as the feeble sun disappears under thick, blanketing black clouds. The gusts outside rattle the shutters, closing off the windows more tightly as they draw themselves inwards, the wind an unwelcome visitor that must be kept out at any cost. Inside, Moira still holds onto the seemingly lifeless, cold hand of the flaxen-haired girl. In the dark silent room an occasional sob is all that can be heard. The old woman knows that this is the hardest time of all. Now that the tears have dried up, now that the realization is complete, now that all hope is lost, this is the time that Caitlin needs her. She gets up and lights the lamp on the table. A flickering yellow glow illuminates the tabletop with a garish light and throws long menacing shadows around the walls and on the low ceiling. The young woman huddles on her chair, her eyes staring out in front of her, focussing on nothingness, unseeing. She has cut herself off from her surroundings, her soul searching out on the ocean, winging like an albatross on the open sea and in the sounds of wind and crashing of the waves all she can hear is the voice of the Sea, strong and triumphant “I have his soul in my possession and to you shall he nevermore return...”

A crackling sound of burning kindling is added to the silence of the room and soon a fire is glowing in the hearth. Its warmth is meagre and the light it sheds seems unable to penetrate the thick, grief-laden air. The sitting woman is bathed in shadows, her limbs immobile as though she were a stone statue. Moira puts the kettle on the grate and walks toward the girl. “Come close to the fire, Caitlin. Come close to me!” She takes hold of the girl’s hand and raises her up. Unprotestingly, walking like an automaton, now shivering, with teeth chattering she gets up and is led toward the hearth. Moira looks at her and sees her pale face harshly drawn into mask-like impassivity, her eyes sunken and surrounded by dark grey circles, her lips colourless and trembling. They sit down near the fireplace and listen to the crackling of the flames as they consume the peat. The women sit silently and watch the flames. Ever-changing patterns, ever-moving swirling shapes, now a shower of sparks, now a shimmering blue light in the depths of the burning mass. Moira takes two cups and busies herself with the making of the tea. She pours a generous amount of whiskey into the strong black brew and hands the cup to Caitlin. “Drink this, Child, it will help you sleep.” Caitlin looks up at her and her eyes flash, “We loved each other, don’t you understand?” Moira looks at her and nods, “I know, child, I know. I loved mine as much, but the sea cares not for love, nor for youth, nor for our men’s feelings of power and invincibility.” She took the young woman’s hand and put it around the steaming cup “What has happened fate has writ and it was meant to be. Hush now, and drink this!”

photo by: spanishrosie