"Lotus Opening" by L. Folk

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Ship (from Upon Waking)

She got herself aboard a sailing ship to travel the Atlantic. The captain was a ruffian of sorts, large and outspoken, who barked orders at the sailors. It was rumored that once, in a fit of anger, he turned the boat over; it rolled in the Atlantic like a dog in the grass. He did it to punish to crew, and some of them nearly died from hypothermia.

They traveled north, through a rocky channel where fish got stuck in the high cliffs after the tide went out. She remarked to the captain, there, a flounder, there, a grouper, a marlin. Ay, they'd be tasty, the captain said and ordered one of the sailors to pluck the bigger ones for frying. Later that day, she found a flounder on her plate, whole, it's two eyes staring blindly up at her.

At some point, she felt the thrill of a storm, the ship hurling itself through the waves, the spray of the surf. She had said it to herself, "I have never felt so alive." When the storm retreated, they sailed into port. It could have been a port in Norway or Iceland; she did not know exactly. In fact no one but the captain knew the name of the port. The buildings were centuries old and conveyed an air of elegance and antiquity. It was early when they arrived and only the dogs were out. These stray dogs of the sea port had remarkably fine fur and were carrying a bag of sweet cake. They started to tussel over it, but not too aggressively, almost comically. She and the captain perused the otherwise empty cobblestone streets and canals and he took her elbow, guiding her; afterwards, they went back to the ship for breakfast.

Someone knocked at the door of her cabin before she went to table. It was a jeweler with a briefcase of metalwork--rings, shards and plates of copper. He asked her to pick out a gift for the captain. She wondered what good he had done. Why was everyone always appeasing him, this tyrant? She made her choice, a sheet of finely hammered bronze in the shape of the centuries-old buildings. The jeweler went on his way.

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