A very short story about a man longing to return to his past.

Written by

Randall J. Greene

Published on

Go BackProse, Stories

Hiram misses the sea, the rise and fall of the world under his boots, the drum of waves against the hull, the pervase smell of salt and water flooding his nostrils and stiffening his hair and clothes and skin. Dreams of the sea pull him dripping from sleep, although he’s not sure if he’s actually sleeping or if it’s pretend, a self-hypnosis forcing his mind to drift back where he belongs.

The land is dead to him, cold, unmoving, and he has always been a prisoner to the temperament of his environment. Aboard the ship, he was animate, teeming below the surface, where currents wound unseen threads of life and vitality through the depths. But he feels none of that here, just the deathly stillness of stone, the silence of a sepulcher inside and out. This cell they’ve put him in is more than a cage, it’s a tomb, and he feels more dead every minute he’s locked inside.

They bring him food every so often – how much time passes between each one? he can’t tell – ostensibly aspiring to keep him alive. The bowls of mash and carrots they provide aren’t nourishment, though, they’re blackmail, conspicuous attempts to convince him the death they’ve levied upon him is life. But they will not so easily wash away his past, his heart, his soul. His anger and his desire and his will, when they combine, are potent, perhaps even strong enough to explode, shatter the walls of this tomb cell, and sink his captors into oblivion.

The desire and the will are present in him now, ready to burst, but for some reason he can’t fathom, the anger refuses to rise. It’s there, the memory of it at least, but when he tries to pull it to the surface, all he finds is a knowledge of it, an awareness of how its fire should feel in his bones, but in the net is nothing but emptiness, numbness, cold stones beneath his feet, a longing for the sea.