A story today about one of my family who, as he must, is honouring his duty. A promise given, for which he sails over the horizon, out of view, but not out of mind. Call this a reflection of my thoughts, when he is away and I am left waiting upon the …
There are many bodies of water in the universe. Some are the deepest of blue, stretching farther than the eye can see. Souls are called to travel upon these waters, seeking out many a varied thing. Some pass over the deep blue with focus, searching not for a thing, but to find themselves.
Among all of these, there are those left behind, waiting near the shore, looking towards the horizon, waiting—as they must—for they cannot be with those in their thoughts. Upon the seas, existence can be wondrous in one moment, a chore the next, and terrifying unexpectedly. For the waiting, their thoughts, at times, turn towards what might be, what could be. What they hope will be.
She is one of the waiting.
He is one of the called.
The time away comes, as it must, and the ritual begins: the settling of accounts, the provisioning that must be. He is wise in the ways of the deep blue, knowing the peaks and troughs upon which he will set passage. The well-worn duffel bag is retrieved, pressed into service once more, the sea chest opened to hold things for safekeeping. He arrives with news that the time is upon him; not surprising, for she has that feeling once more—a tearing of eyes, then a lump forms in her throat. But her voice is warm; she doesn’t allow her fears and concerns to take over and make him worry. But she has her own ritual, as familiar to her as his.
There is no question that he will go: the call of the blue cannot be ignored, pushed off, or discounted. Some describe it as a siren’s call, a tugging presence that never goes away. A gust of wind carries the salt of the seas and along comes the reminder once more. The date is circled, it comes far too soon, and he makes his way again.
She understands this and respects his choice, his calling. The thought of asking him not to go never crosses her mind, for that would be more than unkind, it would be like asking him to give up a part of himself. The blue is his world, the moments there have shaped who he is.
The moment comes far too swiftly for her liking, how he feels she isn’t always certain. The morning sun warms the vast piers of a city built on the edge of a blue sea. It stretches westwards from whence the flotsam drifts, pushed by the never-ending tide. There is a ship waiting there, a vessel with purpose, preparing to take to the waves. The souls who serve upon it seem so small, so insignificant, when seen from far away. It is a creation of hands, mind, and will destined to challenge the blue, to mark it, for a time, as it passes from shore to shore.
Things are ready, checked and checked again, for the sea can be unexpectedly harsh and one must be prepared for what may be. Dotted here and there, near to the gangway, are those whose place is upon the ship that waits for them. As well, there are those who cannot be on the ship, for that is not their place. Lovers say their words until the next time, families see off their loved ones, some simply make their way to the ship, enter and prepare to leave.
He’s tried to do that, to pass onto the ship once more, thinking he can be on his way without having to encounter her. After so many times, so many moments of thinking he’d gotten away with it, not having to face her, she’d appear. There was no mistaking her, and he always wondered how long she’d been standing there at the gangway waiting for him. It wouldn’t have surprised him in the least if she’d greeted every single soul, wished them well and, in her way, said a little prayer to her Goddess.
After all, this was his sister.
After all, this was her brother.
She waited for him to place the duffel bag on the pair, her smile a bit wan, concerned as she was. She didn’t like goodbyes. Those words had never passed between them. It was awkward, however, as she asked about where he was going, if he had any plans for where he’d visit. He’d answer with a shrug, smiling crookedly. Running a hand through her ebon mane, tugging on it slightly, she asked if he remembered his promise. From the first trip upon the seas, she’d asked him to do one thing for her and only one. Looking down, he nodded, the promise had been kept once more.
A call from above drew his attention. The moment to depart was sooner than expected. Their foreheads touched, they shared parting words, and then all she could do was watch as he gathered his things, smiled, and entered his world, leaving her beside the walkway, now empty and forlorn with all aboard the messenger of the deep blue.
As always there was much to do. His possessions put away in their places, final checks to be made, things to be checked and rechecked. The time was busy and he had little time to wonder what she was doing, where she was. The moorings released, his duty upon the bridge—to lend his hand to the passage—didn’t allow him to see her, still on the pier. She’d remained by the gangway as it was removed, watched the lines pulled in and noted the tugboats move to their places to begin the journey. As the waters churned about, she turned to walk beside the behemoth with purpose, her only companion a small thin book held in one hand.
The ship’s bell rang, and the tugs sounding their horns in reply, the passage at its beginning. As she walked along the pier, she looked to see what was now his home once more start to move. At first she was able to keep pace, but, in time, he and his mates pushed out in front of her, starting to gather speed and purpose again.
His eyes scanned the bridge, called out and replied to orders well remembered, almost second nature now. The land gave way to the sea soon enough, his thoughts on the next moment and then ones after that to be.
She’d walked as far as she could, as far as the finger of concrete allowed, her red dress being pushed about by the winds, her ebon mane being caressed lightly; she did not look away as his ship became smaller and smaller its journey begun once more. She opened the small book and began to read.
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
These see the works of Goddess, and her wonders in the deep.
The lands receded behind, his eyes looking forwards as he slipped back into the warm familiarly of his duty once more. Time passed, the ship moving onwards, the blue being deeper and deeper as the days came and went. The sun rose into the blue skies, arced overhead, then plummeted into the black waters of night before rising once more into a red sky of warning.
She felt the warmth of the sun rising as her eyes flitted from page to waters. The red of the morning paled in comparison with her own red, her thoughts not of herself, but of the one now so far away. The breeze kicked up, the seagulls leaving for safer perches, she not moving from her place at the sharp end of the lands where she waited and continued to read.
For she commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
The seas never remain calm for always. The deep blue turns darker still in a moment, the challenge being placed upon the ship and the hands that guide the path they are set upon. The storm came out of nowhere, a rolling, boiling thing of wind, rain, and wave that reminded those travelling upon the seas of how small they were and how vast the seas are. He calls out to his companions, to check and recheck the ship. The cargo must be secure, the lashings made tight, all hands to be counted and in place.
She feels the rain falling, drops falling upon the pages and she knows. So-green eyes look upwards to the heavens, unafraid. Her mane of wild hair becomes more so as the storm pushes against her, to drive her away. Flashes of red in her hair are defiant. She smiles, unafraid, at nature’s fury that comes calling, her voice pressing against the winds.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.
The waves are monstrous now, towering over the ship, crashing down upon the decks. He grips the railing tightly, calling out commands, turning the ship to face the oncoming maelstrom. His eyes fall upon the red marker light at the bow, waters smashing over, through and washing along the decks. The storm is awful, the worst he has seen, but the ship is strong, the crew knows their roles, and so they continue onwards. There is no turning back, only onwards and through the challenge.
Her dress is soaked through now, the rains and wind chilling her to the bone. She does not stop reciting the passage, does not turn away and run. Her choice, much like his, is to face the challenge head on. The pier is empty of other souls, all of them driven away, turned by the deep blue, cowering in fear of what would be. Turning her so-green eyes to the horizon, she makes the promise she’d made for always.
Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and she bringeth them out of their distresses.
The crew is focused on their duties. His own is to rake his eyes over the deck, looking for impending doom. Across the ship, at its prow, something catches his eye, and he raises his binoculars to see. He gasps in surprise, realizing there are figures at the sharp end being buffeted about by the waves and winds. Shadows of red and blue move around, circling one another like sharks. It takes a flash of lightning to reveal what his mind cannot comprehend. The one figure’s form is draped in shimmering blue, hair of shocking white wildly thrown by the winds. She holds a golden trident in her right hand, left pointing towards the other resisting her. He knows who the opponent is: there is no mistaking the ebon mane of hair, no ignoring the red dress that billows around her. She stands in her place, a silver pitchfork in her left hand.
He winces as the waves come crashing down on the pair and take them out of view. The Mistress of the Deeps demands her prize, to claim that which is hers. The anger of being defied makes the storm worse, the deck tilt, the battle met. Her weapon daggers downward, to end the battle, to turn this challenger away as she had so many others before. Silver tines deflect the golden spear, driving it into the deck. A hand tipped with red takes hold of the trident and the storm seems to freeze in its fury. Cold, deep, blue eyes meet warm, shimmering, green ones. Lips of red press against those of blue, the gasp of surprise as the heat of the heart warms the frozen depths of the sea. The kiss breaks, the forces of nature look across the divide that separates them before time moves onwards once more.
She maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
The storm continues in its fury, but tempered somehow. The ship straightens, the course steadies, and in time the storm passes by, the waters becoming still. The command is given to check the ship, to be sure that all is well. He remains on the bridge, looking towards the bow where the vision stood in the midst of the fury. He knows she was there, her fury of red against the deep blue, the red beacon blinking out where she’d been.
Then are they glad because they be quiet; so she bringeth them unto their desired haven.
Oh that they would praise the Lord for her goodness, and for her wonderful works to her children!
He resolves to tell her of this moment, to ask how it could have possibly been. Then there is a call from elsewhere and his attention is drawn away. It is so very late when his watch ends and he can rest. The cabin awaits him, all neat and proper. A small book rests upon his bunk, the pages open to a passage marked by a red bookmark—one he knows well, for she had spoken of it often.
On the shore, she places a red bookmark in her own small book before closing the cover, her railing against the fury stilled for the moment. Some see her leave the pier, returning to the land. What they do not see is her other self, standing at the bow of the ship, hair being tossed about, smiling in bemusement as the ship moves over the deep blue: a beacon of red, marking the passage of her brother across the waters of Posedeia.
He is one of the called.
She is one of the waiting.
Together, they are family …
… parted by distance, but never truly apart.