There’s something within the walls, I can feel it in the current, moving as the sea carries us. Your whispers heard only in this movement, as if the sea was speaking itself. It’s you, I can sense your presence within these walls, you’re here with me—
“I know you’re in there” my hands press to you, hoping to feel you lingering inside.
But you are now behind me, I move my body to meet you but I am met only with darkness. With only your breath heard, I can’t see your face, only knowing your presence by your sighs. I grip your hand but no sooner than I do it disappears from my reach, feeling around for a palm that is not there, the touch of it lost. Your breath is heavy, I can hear the weight of it, hanging low, landing by our feet. I reach my hand again out to find you, but still I can only hear you.
“How long have you known?”
“I’ve known since the beginning, knew that it would always turn out this way. I was just waiting for circumstance to follow. Get off before it’s too late.”
Suddenly, footsteps are heard from above, and I am again reminded that you are here, your voice disembodied as you howl out to the moon, praying to the moon and the stars and the god of wind to carry us, to take us back home. Our boat left to the rhythm of the sea and the gentle wind, a testament of our will to be here, all these days, in troubled waters, ever silent, leaving us stranded out at sea.
How long have I been standing here? Why didn’t I hear your footsteps? My lips part and I am again reminded of the lack of water, with the sea taunting my thirst, too salty to drink. The current knows only you, I can afford to get some rest while you steer, though we are barely moving, with no wind to carry us. I drift to sleep and as I lay sleeping your whispers are left to the air—
“Get off before it’s too late… get off before it’s too late, get OFF before it’s too late GET OFF BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!”
I awake to your violent mouth screaming but your body is nowhere in sight. You must have spoken to me in a dream, my nightmares now waking me. I touch the wall again to know you’re there, I can still feel you inside. For days now you let me know you’re still here, with me, that I am not alone but in your company, a rhythmic tapping as waves lap.
I get up to study my face in the mirror, to see if I’ve changed overnight. My reflection moves slowly, trailing behind body, looking just as worn as the day before. It’s my turn to watch now, I go above to relieve you of your duties.
I study the stillness of the waters for hours, “Aeolus please carry us home, Aeolus please carry us home. I pray for the wind to take us, please carry us to safety, take me home, to solid ground, to know the grass once again.” But instead of wind, you send the fog to come, obscuring both mind and vision. It comes sooner than I realize, overtaking me and my sense of time, time now only understood by the inevitable moon and the stars, the twinkling night sea, the only marker of time to remind me of the passing of day.
“Keep watch” you said, but how can I when I cannot see?
More hours pass, day turning to night.
“They haven’t come yet and I don’t expect they will, but still, keep watch, perhaps I am wrong…”
“Aeolus, sing, sing, sing with the wind to carry me away and get us back home again”
“They can’t hear you, the gods you pray to. You only have my ear to listen.”
“Yours is a cruel god, it hears you howling at the moon—”
“You must have misheard, my cries have gone answered, our boat stays still”
You appear to me with many faces, stolen identities of people I’ve once known, all with more villainous expressions than how I left you.
“You’ve gone mad, your face, it doesn’t stay the same!”
“You must be mistaken, I am as I always was…”
A door slams just beyond the corridor, though I could have sworn we were above, your hands tightening the sails, calloused from rope. I go back above, to the deck, where drops of blood lay.
Your face is battered and bloody, a now faceless man, swollen from the salted air of the sea and I am again reminded that I fastened you to the mast, to let you sail with the sun and the moon, to bring us home to safety. A deed for good fortune that would make saints cry. With no gulls to pick at you, we’re too far out from land, you are left to the lonely air, a body to keep me company. I lay my hands before you, knees hitting the floor, a beggars act of forgiveness. But you only point to the hallowed ship on the horizon, come to rescue us, this faraway sailing ship a beacon to the empty sea.
About the author
I’m a practicing artist exploring my love for creative writing. I love short stories, fiction, poetry and all things horror/psychological particularly admiring the author Shirley Jackson’s work.