An Image Captured in Words

I took a nap today and woke up with an image frozen in my mind: A storm-tossed ship, dangerously close to capsizing. I couldn’t shake it. So, I wrote it down.

◊◊◊

The timber creaked and moaned. Years of travel on the high seas had robbed the wood of its vitality and strength. The salt had leeched all of the rich, natural hues and had left the great vessel a dull, tired gray. But she still had character. The ship was a giant three-masted frigate. She had once belonged to pirates. Before that, it was said she was a king’s flagship.  Old and faded, she was still noble, a careworn and effete monarch of the sea.

Frayed ensigns and banderoles, aged and ill-treated by the storm, whipped about. Their colors masked by driving torrents and blackened sky. The ship was cacophonous. The crack of the ensigns, piercing, was met with a roar, as a rogue wave crashed over the side onto the deck. A great groan resounded throughout the hull with the wave’s impact. From the belly of the ship it echoed, the sound making its way upwards. She couldn’t take much more of this, but she must. It was imperative that they reach their goal.

Up in the riggings swung men, like apes in the jungle, rope to rope as branch to branch. Several had died on this journey. The men gave their lives willingly, knowing that all was lost if they failed. Wind buffeted the ship. Sails were taut. Stretched to the limit. If the storm became any worse, then all was lost, for the masts would snap. They already leaned perilously to the left. If the masts didn’t snap, then the ship would roll. It would be difficult to continue with everyone leagues under the sea.

The monotonous chorus of wave, ship, and storm was suddenly accompanied by a sharp, new strain. A scream– and shortly thereafter a thud. The wind had claimed another of the crew. Up above, the calls of the riggers ceased momentarily as each made silent prayers: one to sendoff their lost compatriot to the afterlife, and another to thank the gods that it hadn’t been them.

Like all objects not tied down, the body was soon tossed off the deck into the roiling sea. Sky and sea effaced; no bloodstains remained to mark the fellow’s demise. One death was inconsequential. A few deaths meant nothing compared to what might happen otherwise. Nothing.

◊◊◊

That’s all. It’s rough, but that seems like a poignant beginning to something. If only I knew what they were sailing to–or, perhaps, from.

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