Seal.

April 4, 2018
By nshipley GOLD, Mount Hermon, California
nshipley GOLD, Mount Hermon, California
11 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Hunting seals was a right of passage among men, for seals were brilliant beasts of nature. Through my crosshairs, I gazed at one, peering down from the sloping grass ridge atop the sea-cliff. The migrant creature was in a struggle.
At the emerging sea-stack’s narrow base, pressured by the violent tides of our shores, the beast fought to lift itself onto the rock. Its flippers that nature had granted to its being only crippled its will. It was a pitiful sight. I was tempted to end it in that moment, with the one small movement of a muscle, but its courage intrigued me enough to lift my finger from the trigger and watch.
“I think the boy’s got one in his sights!” A man’s chuckling voice uttered behind me up the hill towards the tent. “I think he does!” said another. 
My attention was thus thrown from the life below to my remembered purpose upon these shores. I sighed and relaxed from my tense handle on the rifle. I could feel the judgement of the men’s eyes sink into my shoulders--their arms, I could envision, crossed with belittlement.
I gathered myself again and returned my eye to the scope to watch the animal. It appeared to be bobbing now within the surrounding waters, letting currents churn around it, learning the rhythm of the swells. Another wave, quite large, began to rise around the seal, and as it fell the seal quickly sailed through it and onto the rock. Seeing the creature triumphantly hoist itself onto the stone instilled in me delight. Free of the strain it was in, the seal lifted its regal chest into the air, facing the sea, unaffected by the harsh sea-winds of this place.
“Are you gonna shoot it, or are you not a man?”
“C’mon. Kill it. It’s only an animal.”
Again, I was separated from the sight. I turned my head down and looked at the grass I crouched upon--impervious to and unaware of my presence, absolutely content with its own existence.
“Kill it! Kill it!”
I returned to the seal and found my finger rested on trigger.
“It’s only an animal! Kill--”
The muscle twitched effectually. The roaring crack trembled for an instant within the cove--causing some seagulls nearby to depart from their temporary settlement--but was quickly consumed by the surrounding breaths of the ocean within the ever-surrounding atmosphere. I trembled, then fell to my side and wept upon the grass--and the shores returned to their unaffected state from before.   
Emerging from the stillness, “Atta’ boy."



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