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Sinking Ship

by Lolita Libra about a year ago in breakups
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A short story by Leslie Staton

The ship was slowly sinking. She told him it was, but he stood there and looked out at the horizon like she had not said a word. She told him that she would be getting off at the next port, but he did not seem to hear that either. In fact, the man did not seem to hear anything she said, no matter the subject. The water began to rise, and the boards began to creak and break, and she became scared. She would have almost thrown herself into the ocean to avoid going down with the ship… But then it would stop, and she would have the illusion that she was safe, that they were safe…but it never stopped for long. Just when she had convinced herself maybe it was not sinking, she could see water pooling in the corners of the deck, and she knew she was mistaken. She had loved this ship. How could she stay and watch it go down? But she did. They passed port after port and she thought about getting off, but how could she leave the man there, staring at the horizon? She could convince him to fix the ship. She could get him to patch the holes and it would stop sinking. But no matter what advice she gave him to fix it, he stood fixed, staring at the horizon. He saw something there, something that was a destination that she could not see. She could tell he believed he would get there, on this sinking ship. What the man could not realize is that the horizon moved. The nearer you came, the farther it receded into the distance. She tried to tell him that he could never reach the horizon, that in fact, it was not a destination. It was an illusion. But the man did not hear. The man then started to build something on the deck. At first, she could not tell what it was, as the man never spoke a word to her other than to tell her if they were getting weather, or to ask her how her day was. And the man built. Every day he built. She tried to tell him you could not build a structure on a sinking ship, but he did not listen, and he built. She finally realized it was a house he was building, a place he wanted to live. But he only built it big enough for him to fit, and all the while the ship sank. She realized that even if the structure had a solid ground, it was not built for her as only one person could fit inside. She watched him build and she finally realized, she must leave the ship. She spent many days, just staring at the man build. She was trying to understand why he was doing it as the ship sank. She asked him questions about why there was no room for her, what he would do with the structure when it was sitting at the bottom of the ocean? She screamed, she pulled her hair out, and still, the man said nothing to her. The next port was nearing, and she packed what little was left of her belongings, what had not already been lost to the ocean. The man did not even notice when she left the ship. She stepped onto the grass, onto solid ground, which she had not felt in ages. It felt so good to have in under her feet. She fell to the ground and hugged it in joy. She did not care that people were staring at her. She would no longer care what anyone thought again. She looked back at the ship one last time, and she could see the man building furiously, as the water finally reached his ankles. He then realized what was happening and stopped for the first time. He looked for her all around the ship, frantically, panicking when he could not find her. But where had she gone? She could see him searching, and she felt sad for the man, but now he was too far away to reach. He finally saw her shadowed outline on the shore. When had she gotten there? He waved at her and smiled. He wished he could make out her face. The words she had been saying for months hit him now, and he could feel the water rising to his shins and his smile faded. It was then he realized she had been right. The boat had been sinking all along. He searched for her shadow along the shore again, one last image to hold onto as he sunk into the water. But she was gone.


About the author

Lolita Libra

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