Going Somewhere

August 3, 2008
A gray and dreary afternoon plagued the English coast yet again as the wind danced across the moist, salty air, tickling the tips of various grasses and weeds bordering the sand. The sun tried, with great effort to spill out of cracks in the clouds; neither bright rays nor a mild glow, but merely whispered strands of golden secrets spill across a fluorescent pink and gray sky along the Atlantic coast. The waves lap across the weather-worn rocks more frequently as daylight began to fade.

Meanwhile, deep wads of thick alabaster saliva seep from the seams and cracks of puffy, parched lips of the man well seasoned on life. The man now seated in the equally dehydrated wooden hands of a flaky, old rowboat, cupped beneath his bony and wrinkled exterior. The chipping paint along the planks of the boat are like the old man’s desert of a face, peeling from lack of moisture. The battered oars like his wobbly bones; and the dust and sand, assembling at the base and slipping through the cracks are the memories of the man, slipping away as time widens the cracks in his empty shell. The boat is this man, and this man, the boat. They are separate, but each is the completion of the other. He is the soft fleshy soul protected by the beaten, aged shell. A crab-like duo defines such a relationship.

The man contemplates whether or not sailing this haven boat into the unforgiving waters of the Atlantic would result in fatality. Opting for the risk, he draws in the anchor, and almost praying to the God he’s vaguely believed in, he manages to kick off from the sheets of sand, draped over the world which has held no purpose for him.

With deep, somber, earl-gray eyes, eyes from which behind lies a man drained and wrung out as water is from a sponge; with these eyes, a last sight of a fruitful, green Earth is glimpsed. A moment not long enough. Never too long until he forgets to remember or remembers he wants to forget.

The man-like boat dances atop a cruel mistress of waves as the shore vanishes into the clouds and mist rapidly approaching. Dancing to a different rhythm than she. That cranky old maid called the Atlantic. It is she who spits and gags white foam up and over the gaunt man in the hollow shell of a boat. She who loves the unwanted love, the dangerous love only a temptress knows how. She hugs the boat again and again, each time clashing her watery arms and bosom into the frail man of a boat, and frail boat of a man.

A daunting flock of seagulls storms above; a plague of bills and webbed feet and dirty feathers that make the allergenic man cringe and their presence. Birds of the sea, but not foolish in any way. No, smart birds. Birds that know of a foolish, old man, to sure of his invincibility, what decides he can conquer the Atlantic in a rowboat. The birds are glad to see this man. This man is the tasty one.

It’s funny, he thought, how when nature wants to kill you, it makes you want to die more and more.

For that was truly what occupied the man’s thoughts, as he hopelessly sought an escape from this watery hell. But any organized thought seemed impossible while a chilling breeze drown out his ears and swept back what little, thin, stringy hair was left from a poorly maintained comb over.

He could feel the thick, maroon veins in his neck throbbing and pulsing with troubling agony, hoping that he would wake up any second having escaped a storm of dreams. But no blessed dreams are anything like these times. And it’s times like these when the old man wishes he could simply slip back into his teenage years when all his problems solved themselves with a pop of a pill or a puff of a cigarette.

Then again, he thought, Perhaps it was just those pops and puffs which have clouded his recent judgments.

And somewhere in this labyrinth of reminiscence, the old man, still refusing to accept his mortality, began rowing in a direction that might lead to shore, or might lead to sea.

To shore or to sea, either way, he had, for the first time in his life, the notion that he was going somewhere. Whether it was a means to an impossible end or otherwise an endless search to find meaning (neither of which held much promise) he found there was a juvenile satisfaction to be gained in the same repetitive motion of rowing. Perhaps it was an act of heroics, to save the person who so resembled himself, who he knew resided in the hollow hull of the boat.
The boat what was always sitting, anchored to billions of specs of sand, mirroring the man’s life. For he was no longer a free spirit. No, he too was tied down by each trivial matter of an insignificant life, binding him to the shore when he longed for the sea. Longing as the desert longs and yearns for the rain. As the withering leaf yearns for the sun, so does the man, withered and parched of his watery love, long for the sea. The only woman he’s ever known, feared, and respected. He, as a young man, would caress her late into the night, rolling and submersing himself in the shallows of her tender touch. Ever longing to kiss the lips quenched in a moisture too salty for any man. And at long last, heartbroken to know she longed for another. She who reaches and stretches out, only to break from the pain, because she can’t touch the moon which she endlessly adores.

Cheated and tricked, the old man had nothing to do with the sea for years to come. And now, in the midst of her fit for his unfaithfulness, he would pay the price to understand that one does not betray the sea. Screaming and clawing at the man, she toys with him in a torturous manner. Right as he begs for death, she subsides, only to relapse into a chronic fury, after he had become drunk on hope.

By now, the man’s sense of direction is lost, and his throbbing muscles scream in a twisted agony, unable to continue in this hopeless state. Too intoxicated with the previously clung-to false hope to see past into the sober reality. His rowing continues for the mere sake of retaining a purpose on life.

Going somewhere! he thought.

Going nowhere is more like it.

But even nowhere is somewhere. And in his nowhere, he ached to find his somewhere with meaning. His somewhere where popping and puffing was no longer necessary to gain the high he so eagerly craved. A high of purpose; a high on life. Yes, that is truly what he required: a state in which life was his ultimate passion, his fixation, never wanting to let go of that one true love.

His physical consciousness resumed as a towering swell of salty, Atlantic water rose and crashed into the boat and its occupant. And as the wave subsided, it revealed the true state of the man. This was a very different man, what now sits inside the boat from what was on the shore just an hour past. Now drenched from top to bottom, this is the man too aware of his mortality. Those stringy threads of thin hair now fall over the mass of wrinkles assembled on his forehead, dripping while they try to dry, but to no avail.

The trembling of his bony, arthritic hands makes it harder and harder to continue rowing as the breeze insists on torturing every one of those brittle joints. And the air of his invincibility has evaporated, and left fear and doubt in its stead.

As the freezing rain spattered and pelted his face, he can’t help but to notice that the seagulls are gone. Even they know when a storm is too threatening to risk life.

The chilling surf begins to flood the boat, as if the sea is itching to get close to the broken man. Slowly it submerses him in a threatening manner. The man gazes down only to find his veiny claw-like foot drowning in the water he once loved. Now grasping the severity of the situation, he resorts to that which marks only desperate men. He begins cupping out the pond of water now resting at the base of the boat. With each handful, wishing he hadn’t been so ignorant, so vain as to ignore the signs which clearly predicted a storm such as this. A man who has spent hours on decks of many vessels should know better than to tempt the sea, or rather the sea of fates now plucking each fiber away from his string of life.

The water, now well above his waist begins to pull him under, as if reeling in the fish too stupid to avoid an obvious hook. The man abandons the possibility of the rowboat’s salvage and dives into the chilling sea. From afar, he gazes at the bow of the boat slowly submersing into the depths. And a chill runs up his spine as he can’t help but to feel as if he has just witnessed his own death. His initial fears had been realized. This voyage had already ended in one fatality of one of the two souls.

Kicking and paddling now seemed the only logical thing left to do. As if logic was his primary focus; or it could have even been the absence of logic that told him this. Thrashing about in the sea doesn’t give one much time to reflect. But if the old man had said time, it’s quite possible that the reflection would involve both remorse for those he had hurt in his acts of stupidity, and regret that he had never found the life high he so anxiously sought after. Kicking and paddling seemed to fill the void for now… and quite possibly forever, as it held the immature satisfaction of going somewhere. But one thing was for certain, like any high, it couldn’t last much longer.

Perhaps one of the last thoughts that drifted through his frantic mind was how odd it seemed, that a man who spent his whole life hating land that he lived on, was actually being saved by it all the time as it bound him away from the deadly sea, now too eager to claim her prize.

His limbs had grown numb from the freezing ocean water. His neck locked back in a position that kept his face lifted up in the air. His eyesight, poor as it already was, now proved useless as the chilling rain crashed down, obscuring what little sight was left.

And as quickly as he had drawn in his last breath, it happened. He was pulled under by the monstrous current only to have his body crashed into…rocks! With the minimal effort he retained, too little to show excitement at the discovery of land, but more than to simply drift back out to sea, he threw himself onto the safety of the rocks. After a good minute with his face resting against the rough Earth, the old man managed a smile, because in going nowhere, he was about to find his ultimate somewhere. And it was there he fell limp; once again, and for the last time, driven away by his one true love, the sea.

Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback