The Voyage of the Sailor

The sailor swam in perfect pitch black. Perfect silence loomed closer and closer. Slosh-plop, slosh-plop, slosh-plop; a rhythm he was too afraid to break, else he never gets it up again. 

The darkness was complete, cold and equaling. The sea became the sky’s equal. And the two that illusioned meeting on the horizon alone- never to be reached- finally embraced. And what a dark union it was, clandestine and determined never to separate again. It killed off the stars, the moon and any fire that man brought with him here. 

The sailor closed his eyes when they’d burned, and now they seared his sockets so that he felt bright light would come out if he opened his eyelids. His arms and legs burned and turned charred long before, now as lifeless as the sea they paddled. Only the urgency of holding the rhythm made them move. His neck and back burned, and rising his head to breathe was more painful than its worth. 

But quiet was worse than drowning. He listened, counted, and prayed for each strike of his limbs on the seawater. His heart must’ve stopped long before, he thought.  

His mind played his events backwards, from here, to the sinking… but he forced it forward. He knew what waited if the play continued. Forward, into what would eventually come to pass. 

Soon his hand would strike land and strike hard to bring the life into it. He’ll stumble upon land in his swim.

But were land a week’s sail away, how would he reach that? Just a week, he thought. Thank the lord’s mercy; it could’ve been further

And the Lord would reward faith and resolve; bring the island to the sailor when the sailor was no longer capable. And should the lord be elsewhere, something else should see his fortitude, and his swim, and rescue out of admiration. A mermaid. 

All of the stories of a mermaid’s beauty were wrong. Their beauty isn’t of flesh, but hot, bright light. Must be so, since he couldn’t think of anything more appealing than dazzle and warmth. 

But they’re shy, of course. Shy to come surface, and his incessant sloshing offends. But how much this feigned annoyance would hold? They know they couldn’t hold much longer. How could they, when the sea itself pulls the sailor below? The sailor knows they desire him. They know he wants them. The ocean knows all, has all; but isn’t satisfied just holding the sky’s darkness. It’s in everyone’s pride that none broke their will. 

But soon, everyone breaks. Sea, land, sky, and the mistresses of the waves. Sky and sea can go into the abyss. But who’ll mend the mermaid’s broken pride? Him, of course. With sweet words and resignation. 

It’s no shame to lose in a contest of mettle to me. I’ve conquered heaven and ocean. The waves that even sink ships couldn’t win. The sea swallowed a ship and came then to me. But I’m my own boat, my own land, and my own company. He’d then voice threats- firm and fair- but not harsh. I’ve waited on the lord, and when he didn’t show, came to you. Sulk longer, and I’ll leave again. 

That would work. And then, when he stopped paddling the ocean, there won’t be silence. They’d converse and rest. His wife would be furious, but the sea is scarce in comfort and charm. A resting embrace there is better than his land life and more combined.  She’d be cruel to not understand. 

There. An hour’s sail away. Where sea and sky separated, and their darkness gave way to light. Light, like red gold. Light more beautiful than the world. 

Now they come. Now the mermaid break. Pride is cold, and they seek warmth. 

In perfect silence, they waited; the sea, the wind and the sailor. 

The Voyage of the Sailor
Photography by Muksid Ahmed.

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Contributor

  • Ashik is a writer wannabe who compulsively reads to learn the craft. He has chosen his university subject for this very reason and now regrets his choice. He’s currently trying to forget his bad decisions by copying famous authors.

Lutfor Rahman Ashik

Ashik is a writer wannabe who compulsively reads to learn the craft. He has chosen his university subject for this very reason and now regrets his choice. He’s currently trying to forget his bad decisions by copying famous authors.

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