Lost at Sea








Lost at Sea

The promise of land is but three hundred yards away, yet still a thousand miles off.  It is low tide, and the boat cannot reach land without the bottom scraping the rainbow of coral reefs below.  So, we wait.  Parched, starving, burnt, and helpless, we wait. 
 

            The boat is weighted with as many souls as she would carry. An inch is separating the rim of the boat and ocean water below and we wait. With sharks swimming below, we wait; wait for high tide that will roll us inland.
 
            Neap tide comes.  The swell of the ocean fails us as it launches us forward onto the reef, depositing our dingy on the coral.  There’s nothing left but for us to wade to shore, without the comfort of a sandy ocean floor.

          Our sandals float to the surface of the water as the current rips them from our feet, unkindly offering our flesh to the reef. The coral cuts deep. Blood runs from our feet, spreading through the ocean like a river of lava. I think briefly of the sharks beneath our dingy, but the thought is quickly pushed away to ward off panic.
 
            Exhausted, we reach the shore and I fall face-first onto the beach, taking in gasping breaths of glorious white sand.  I sit up and spit the earth from my mouth as we all rejoice.  We made it! We’re hungry and thirsty, and our feet are running rivers of blood, but we made it.  We whoop and holler, flaunting the failure of Poseidon. 

            Just as relief floods in, the agony begins. I can feel it moving through my veins.  It starts from my feet and moves in swift currents of upward searing pain. I vomit blood.  The world tilts and sways as one by one, the retch of another vomiting survivor is heard, groans of anguish are followed by the thump of a body as it hits the sand.  There are no more whoops of joy.

  It is silent now, except for the lapping of the ocean waves against the shore.  The sunny sky begins to fade against the blackness pushing in.  And the last sight I see is the bloody sand, the ocean, and the dinghy trapped in the arms of the ocean’s colorful coral floor.

But we made it. Didn’t we?
 
 
A.D Hurley is a poet, fiction writer and associate editor.

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