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The Maiden

Somewhere, if a familiar yet forgotten world, a maiden stands at the edge of the sea. He can picture her both clearly and with difficulty.



Her mousy brown hair, previously tied back into a tight bun, was now loose, the salty Atlantic air blowing it around her face. While it was warm, the sun heating up the New Jersey beach moments ago, an angry raincloud clocked its warm arms from embracing the seaside. She started to shiver as the spray from oncoming waves hit her bare feet and face.


He was out there. Thinking of her. She knew it was true.



Jonathan could visualize his hometown—a small seafaring village next to the Jersey shore, at the mouth of Tennanuka River. Downtown was only a block; it consisted of a town hall, a post office, a barber shop, and a restaurant owned by his cousin. They were tidy buildings, brick and red. Main Street promptly turned into farmland on the west side. On the other side lay the beach, docks, lighthouse, and the Atlantic, reaching out endlessly until it kissed the sky.


Every day he imagined his wife, Nancy, standing at the edge of the sand, looking towards the horizon. A blank look occupied her face. It was quite different than the glowing expression she was known for.

He thought of her sitting down, the yellow and white grains swirling around her small frame.
In her letters, she always writes about sitting at the shore at 6pm every day, rain or shine, no matter how inclement the weather. She would watch the waves approach the land hesitantly, then recede, like shy children in a candy shop. “I think of you on your ship,” she had written on May 23, 18667. “You do think of me too, don’t you Jonathan?”
Of course he did. Nowadays, it was all he could think about. After a year at sea, nothing to do but swab the poop deck and hoist the billowing white sails, thinking of her was the only thing he could do to keep from going mad with boredom. He did this for her, he kept telling himself. All of this hellish work was so she would live in a nice home, with a couple acres of farmland she could tend.



The angry raincloud turned into an angrier raincloud. She could see lightning shoot out from underneath it, aimed at the ocean below. She prayed for any souls caught in that storm because it was becoming visibly worse, almost hurricane-esque. She hoped God decided to take mercy on them.




Jonathan, lost deep in his daydream, didn’t notice the severity of the winds until a bolt of lightning narrowly missed the ship. The captain, the wisest and most experienced on the east coast, yelled, “All hands on deck! All hands on deck! Tropical storm off the starboard now!”
The other hands scrambled up from their quarters below, beginning to secure ropes and maintaining the ship’s course to the Tennanuka port. I guess we’ll be arriving with a bang, he thought, running towards the mast and helping another man tie the sails down. They couldn’t let them whip around and tear the mast off the ship. Or worse: knock someone overboard.



The winds on the shore suddenly picked up, and Nancy decided to return home. He’d be back in two days’ time, and she would be patient. She would wait.



Another bolt of lightning and a crash of thunder left Jon and the sailors frozen in fear. The storm was getting worse; there was no end in sight.


“Why the yam are you standing around? Are you all deaf and dumb? Mind your stations!” the captain screamed, his hair plastered to his face from the rain. Another lightning strike, this one stinging the far-off shore of New Jersey, lit up the dark sky.

The wind howled in Jonathan’s ears. He knew; he just didn’t know when.

Lightning always strikes the tallest object. There wasn’t anything for dozens of miles around them; just a 73 foot schooner mast and the sea. They would be hit anymoment.

God, please have mercy on Nancy. She’ll be heartbroken.

As he silently prayed, he looked up towards the heavens, just as a white bolt shot straight down, reaching the tip of the mast and metamorphosing into a fiery inferno.

Two Days Later

Nancy ran to the docks, her hair flying behind her. Jonathan was finally coming home! She had the whole day planned out—she would let him rest, get used land again, then they would have a picnic at Greenwich Park like they used to every Sunday.

Her small gold watch showed that it was noon—nearly time for his ship to dock. Straining her eyes, she scanned the horizon, waiting for a mast to grow out of the sea. Bad weather? she wondered. Perhaps his ship is just a bit behind schedule…

Footsteps sounded behind her. She didn’t bother to turn; she didn’t want to miss the appearance of the Golden Eagle, his ship.

“Mrs. Smith?”
She turned. It was Zachariah, Jon’s cousin, the one that owned the restaurant on Main Street.

“Nancy…”

“What?” Her heart, previously pounding from anticipation, nearly stopped. A stony expression was on Zach’s face.

“I just got the news…”


“What news?”


“There was a terrible storm…and the Eagle was caught in it. I’m sorry…there weren’t any survivors.”


She turned back. “Leave me.”


He gently touched her shoulder. She shrank away.


“Leave…”


She kept looking out towards the horizon. The ship would sail in any moment now. The footsteps faded away.




“Poor thing…” the postman said as he sipped his coffee.
“Indeed,” Zachariah agreed.


A soft tinkle resounded in the restaurant as a teen and her lover stumbled in, laughing. They sat at a table, and Zach walked over. “What’ll you two lovebirds have?” he asked.


“We’ll just have two coffees,” the boy said. He looked over at the girl and they shared a small smile—one that Zachariah recognized. It was one he had seen Nancy and Jonathan share constantly.


“Tragic…” the postman said. The girl looked over in surprise.

“What’s tragic?”

“You heard about the Golden Eagle?” he said.

She pondered for a moment. “The ship that sank a few months ago?”

“The very same one. One of the sailors on it, Jonathan Smith…his wife threw herself into the sea yesterday.”

The girl gasped. Her beau put an arm around her. “That’s terrible!”

The postman nodded. “Every day at 6pm, she would stand on the beach and think of him, wait for him… and after she heard her husband was dead, she wouldn’t leave after that. She spent all her time sitting on the beach, just staring off at the horizon. Me and Zachariah would bring her blankets and food…but she didn’t budge. Months. I was walking down the beach yesterday. And her body washed up in front of me… she finally lost it.”

A tear rolled down the girl’s cheek. “How…romantic.”

The postman grunted. “You could say that.”



Later that day, Zachariah walked out to the beach. It was 6 o’clock. He could picture a maiden standing at the edge of the sea. He could picture her both clearly and with difficulty.



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