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Distant shores

Heatwaves and sleepless nights

By Skye MoffettPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - June 2024

The entire city felt the heatwave break in the night, as did the birds. The gulls started to pick up despite the hour; closer to morning than evening. Sheets lay unused on the floor, tossed from the bed so as not to touch her skin as it sweltered. Languidly she migrated from the bed to the window, draping herself on the thick ledge and letting the cool air melt over her naked body. A sigh of relief escaped her.

It had been a week since anyone could breath. When it came, heat settled down in this part of the country like a blanket, suffocating the port town until people stopped bothering to leave their homes.

In particular, her new apartment was cooler than most, why she had no idea. Perhaps it was the knowledge of keeping the windows open but the shutters drawn all day, residing in darkness to survive. But still it was stifling. In the evening she sat naked at the window praying to the stars for the heat to abate, blaming it for her lack of sleep though that had stretched far longer than the heat wave.

Clouds from the big ocean descended upon the port low enough to be a fog, and her eyes followed them as they moved through the ships, buildings, and trees, occasionally parting to give her the briefest window of inky blackness above. Not blackness, she thought, a grey midnight.

The clouds moved so quickly it was a wonder they did not have somewhere to be, were they headed to sea to blow a ship off course? She hoped they would carry swallows to a distant shore, one also in desperate need of a reprieve from the heat.

There was a sprinkling of lights in apartments across the square, others were taking gulps of fresh cool air. Cigarettes lit in the darkness and the earliest of coffee enjoyed on balconies. The city would be alive tomorrow. She sat in the window for an hour before climbing into bed at what the clock claimed to be three in the morning. The sheets needed again, but only just. Lately dreams had kept her from rest. Dreams of the sea; of slipping into the water and treading in silence miles from shore, only to be swallowed up by an ancient being. It made the hours she spent staring at the ceiling all the more ominous.

A sailor had told her a name of this feeling once, this torment, artaith. Was it gaelic? Though she could not remember, she did know she had been in its stagnant embrace for months now… longer.

Her memory drifted as eyes closed. To a time when her heart was so full of love. The cottage in the country, a studio thirty steps from the garden, bare feet across soft grass and cool morning dew. They made love on the floor when she would slip in desperate for his lips on hers. When he couldn't focus he would leave the studio and take those thirty steps to her amongst the flowers and vines she cultivated and their bodies would entwine amongst a symphony of bees.

Now she never went barefoot, didn’t touch honey, and mostly didn’t sleep. A bed, not empty, but full of grief, of torment. She thought of the small collection of things that lay beneath her in the small box, the last of his things she could not bear to get rid of. They still smelled like him, like the garden… artaith.

Sighing she ignored the desire to delve into the box and pull out his sweater. She accepted memories are deep dwelling leviathans that swallow you up… her dreams envelope her as she swims out to sea.

Short Story

About the Creator

Skye Moffett

If you're here I'm just beginning. I've lived in 5 countries and traveled to many more, chasing myths and making stories of my own. My stories are based on stories from fellow travelers or my own experiences.

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Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (5)

  • Dr. Jason Benskin26 days ago

    Congratulations on having your story featured as a top story on Vocal! This is a remarkable achievement, and it's clear why your work has received such recognition. Your storytelling is truly exceptional. The narrative was not only compelling but also beautifully crafted, holding my attention from start to finish. The way you developed the characters and plot was masterful, making the story both engaging and thought-provoking. Your unique voice and perspective shine through, setting your work apart. It’s evident that you poured a lot of passion and effort into this piece, and it has certainly paid off. I look forward to reading more of your incredible stories in the future. Keep up the fantastic work! Best regards, Dr. Jay

  • Fly Alone27 days ago

    The great imagery and poetic prose powerfully convey the protagonist's struggle with heat and grief. The shift from her present discomfort to memories of lost love is poignant, making her insomnia and yearning palpable. The recurring theme of "artaith" as lingering torment is beautifully depicted, leading to a haunting conclusion.

  • Melissa Ingoldsbyabout a month ago

    Excellent work with gorgeous sensory effects with imagery that’s poetic and engaging

  • Swaran Singh Bala about a month ago

    A beautiful tale of longing

  • shanmuga priyaabout a month ago

    I liked your story...

Skye MoffettWritten by Skye Moffett

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