A lone lantern slowly swayed in rhythm with the gently rocking rowboat. It cast its dim light out into the evening mist, attempting to illuminate the darkness. Even the mighty beam from a nearby lighthouse had a limited effect against the thickening fog.
The old man had spent his life taking whatever the sea begrudgingly offered him. Tonight, the sea chose to share nothing with the aging fisherman. This lack of activity caused the man to stare at the hypnotically swaying lantern and drift into semi-consciousness. After a lifetime at sea, he knew this was no place to sleep, but he was suddenly overcome with fatigue. What would be the harm in taking a few minutes to rest? He slept and drifted along with the current.
“Jonah, wake up, son. What have I told you about sleeping out here?”
“I know, I know, but I’m just so tired, Dad. Maybe you can let me sleep just a little longer?”
“Sorry, son, it’s not your time to rest yet. You still have work to do.”
Jonah was drifting back to sleep when a loud thump snapped him back into full consciousness. Something had struck the wooden hull so hard that the boat almost capsized. Jonah had sailed these waters for over sixty years, and he knew there were no rock outcroppings or sandbars anywhere in the area. Something had struck his little boat, but the fog made it impossible to see what.
Jonah carefully made his way to the bow, detached the lantern, and directed its light to the port side of the boat. He spotted a large crate bobbing just above the surface. He had come across floating debris before, but this was different. The crate was shaped more like a casket than a trunk and, although it looked to be made of metal, there was no visible surface rust. Very odd, very odd indeed.
Curiosity overruled his good judgment. Jonah carefully maneuvered his boat alongside the strange object. The light from his lantern bounced eerily off the object, revealing strange rune-like markings branded into its surface. Several handles strategically placed around the object made it easy for Jonah to tie one end of his anchor rope to the box and the other to his boat. The old man headed for shore, towing his prize behind him.
Rowing back to shore with the additional drag from the crate was hard work, especially for someone of Jonah’s age. He was only halfway to shore when his aching arms forced him to rest. As he slowly regained his strength, Jonah considered cutting the object loose, but the thought of claiming lost treasure persuaded him to press on.
To the casual observer, it looked as though Jonah had towed the fog in with him. The rowboat and the fog bank reached the shore at the same time. The old fisherman beached his boat, then with all his strength, wrestled his prize onto the sand. Once again, Jonah needed to stop and rest. His heart pounded so hard he thought it would break free from his chest. Jonah gasped for air, attempting to refill his depleted lungs. The gasping and pounding lasted a short time, then slowly dissipated. With renewed vigor, Jonah worked out how to open his prize. Excitedly, the old man pushed open the lid and fell to his knees.
The contents were items very familiar to him. A baby rattle from his infancy, a toy firetruck, report cards, and other mementos from his youth. So many things, both good and bad, that represented his life, were on display in this box. He stared in disbelief, looking baffled.
“You’ve done well, my son. Many people take their excess baggage with them to the grave. You have left yours here on the beach.”
“Dad, I don’t understand. You died years ago. How can we be talking?”
“You know the answer. It’s time for you to rest. I’m here to show you the way.”
Father and son walked off together into the mist.
About the Creator
I have spent most of my life traveling the US and abroad. Now it's time to create what I hope are interesting fictional stories.
I have 2 books on Amazon, Mitigating Circumstances and Short Stories for Open Minds.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
Zero grammar & spelling mistakes