who's the mommy around here anyway?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

On the Shore (collaboration)

More than ten years ago I found myself discovering the on-line world of chat rooms. A random conversation brought me an email containing a short story which the writer asked me to read and consider for critique. I haven't a clue how to critique, so instead I wrote an answering short story, and the following is what I wrote. That began a months long acquaintance with a new friend, and I wrote a total of 4 short stories during that time. I'd never tried my hand at fiction before. My online friend, and his wife, were encouraging, and without them I'd never have spent any time at all trying to write anything. I owe them a debt of gratitude. This is one of two stories we wrote together on the same theme, a nautical reunion. This is my favorite. Given my daughter's recent heartbreak, I think it's sort of apropos. Thanks to Garp44.

On the Shore

I do not find it easy to wait. Distances seem forever and absences only make my heart grow forgetful. How do you remember the feel of an embrace or the warmth of a kiss? Still I find myself here on this island, waiting, waiting... watching the horizon, unsure. The light fades as the sun sinks lower and with it sets my spirit, for I do not believe that the long awaited moment will arrive. And yet, I remember my first kiss, so long ago and in a place so much like this. The sky was black but the moon shone on us brightly, and for me night became blazing day, noon in the desert. The sounds of the surf were loud, almost as loud as my heartbeat as he bridged the short but endless distance between us to brush my lips with his.

Since then I have believed in a special magic which can occur only near the ocean's shore, with the wind in my hair, the sound of the waves in my ears, and the salty taste of sea spray on my lips. Here, where water meets land, might dreams come true. Though the years have exposed magic as illusion, and dreams as a disguise for heartbreak, I find myself returning again and again to the memory of that first kiss, yearning for the innocent fulfillment of mysteries not yet understood and promises not yet broken.

There have been many kisses since the first but few so dearly anticipated as the one for which I now wait. I pace along the beach with urgent reason as I scan the waters, like a captain's wife on her widow's walk. The distance at sea is measured in knots and on land in miles and I imagine that Time at sea is also different. Perhaps on the ocean a month is just a month, exact and precise, defined by the movement of the stars in the infinite dark of the sky, but left behind on land a month stretches into a year, or two years, or a lifetime of wondering when he will return. The ache in me takes on a physical shape. I touch and caress it in the dark and wonder if he feels this in his dreams, or has an answering ache that will bring him back to me once again.

Today my mind tricks me as I see a tiny piece of ghostly white approaching my sheltering island cove. I watch breathless and anticipating. It moves swiftly and unerringly, skimming the waves as though they were slippery glass. The ghostliness of the vision recedes as the vessel floats closer and I see that I am neither dreaming nor imagining. The wind has picked up and I feel the tension in the sails as I feel it in myself. I sense the firm and steady hand of a sailor who knows well his ship and his way, and his woman. The craft and I are one as we navigate toward our pre-appointed destination. I am gliding, floating toward the waves as they reach out and pull me into their blue and white foam. My captain dives, moving with powerful grace, abandoning his ship, making his choice, answering his call.

I am held hostage by the land as he is indentured to the sea, but love or passion, the fire which binds us close over great distances and brings us together time and again, is the irresistible force which meets the immovableable object and causes the earth to shake, and the tides to ebb and flow.


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