Sea Story Blue Sea Red Story Blue

15 Aug

This story took a respectable second prize in an Edinburgh University writing competition not all that long ago. A feat that I rank with my winning time of 2.27 in an 800m race back in the heady summer of 2001. It had been a miserable school sports day. As I approached the final bend my energy levels were dipping to a dangerous, possibly life threatening all time low, I was panting, heaving, dribbling, hoping – ah! the audacity of hope! – hoping I could just hang on for a few more metres, and all I could hear were the stirring strains of Nessun Dorma … anyway, sorry, that’s another story.

SEA STORY BLUE SEA RED STORY BLUE

I handed it to her.

‘No, I don’t want to read this,’ she said.

I said… well … I don’t know what I actually said.

But she kept saying no, no, no, and then she yawned and fell asleep.

I left her sleeping on the boat. As I climbed ashore I undid the rope tied to the jetty and let the boat drift out to sea. She would wake up in a few hours or so and sail back to land. She would be alright.

Two days later the story was all over the news. Local Lady Missing Out At Sea. I read the newspapers and watched the story unfold on the television. I felt acutely self conscious all through that day and the next.

On the fourth day I decided to notify the authorities of what had happened. I told them that I knew the lady well and that she would understand why I had done it.  I said that we would have a good laugh together once this was all over and asked if they needed to know anything else. I was encouraged to come down to the police station to give a formal statement – I declined.

On the fifth day there was a knock on the door of my house and it turned out to be two plain clothed police officers there to escort me down to the station. I told them that I had spoken to their superiors the day before and that everything had been sorted out. Still, they insisted that I accompany them down to the station and warned me that, if I did not do exactly as they asked, they would take me there by force as they had a warrant for my arrest – I agreed.

At the station, after filling out a number of forms, I was ushered into a small room with no windows. One of the walls of the room was a mirror. As I had seen many police dramas and films on the television, I was aware that were probably people behind this mirrored wall watching my movements and assessing my character. I tried to look calm. I sat down and waited, sitting very still. For ten or twenty minutes nobody entered the room and I was left to my own thoughts. Calmly thinking over my situation, I decided to try and make a daring escape.

I am at the table now, thinking out my escape. In my pockets I have a coin, a packet of cigarettes and a cigarette lighter. I can think of no escape plan involving these objects. Other things in the room: there is the chair I am sitting on, the table I am sitting in front of, the door (which has a silver handle, shaped like a moth without wings) and the mirrored wall. I am not handcuffed. I also believe that the door is unlocked, as I do not remember anybody locking it. I am going to get up from the chair and simply walk out of the door and then out of the station.

My plan has worked. I am now on the street outside of the police station walking back towards my house. On second thoughts, I will not go back there as shortly, I expect, the police will be looking for me and my house will surely be the first place that they will look. I am making a right turn down a side street towards the sea. I now plan to get a boat and look for her, as finding her will put an end to the trouble I am in.

The sirens have started. Great wailing sounds. I have lived here all my life and have heard them only once. And that once is this time. I do now feel a little bit worried and sick: perhaps I should not have escaped from the police station without talking to the police. Now they may think I am a danger to society and shoot me when they find me. There is a blue boat bobbing on the quay. I will take this boat and sail towards the horizon.

I am at sea. The wind is breezing through my hair and the salt spray has dried out my skin, the sun is beginning to set. I can no longer see land behind me.

A cloud covers the moon. Her boat is red, but I am well aware that I will not recognise any colours when it is pitch black.

In the night I feel safe, like a little spider crouching on a bit of dark in the carpet. I fall asleep on deck, closing out the stars behind my eyelids.

That was a week ago, I am beginning to starve. I also think I am going a little bit mad. Over the past days I have kept a record of my thoughts in a black diary I found somewhere in the boat. I forget where. I have written something down four days in a row.

Day 1 – I am happy that I am on my way to find her but worried about the police. Hungry.

Day 2 – I am happy that I am on my way to find her but still worried about the police.       Very Hungry.

Day 3 – I am no longer worried about the police but I am starting to doubt whether I         will find her. Extremely hungry. Slightly Mad.

Day 4 – I am starving and going insane. No police. Her not found.

I have made a friend called Jim Lad. He is a cabin boy but he is sick, and I must continue nursing him back to health. Jim Lad is the descendent of a great admiral who sailed the high seas killing pirates and crooks. Jim Lad has the fever but still has a glint in his eye. He talks of doubloons buried on an island in the region and says I must find them before the evil Captain Barnacle and his crew of crooks. I pity him, as he is slowly dying and talks little sense.

Jim Lad I say, Jim Lad how do you feel today. Jim Lad says he’s fine, surviving at least. Jim Lad I say, do you know of a red boat with a cargo of one sleeping lady? Jim Lad says yes, he does, it be on the horizon.

I run to front of the boat and indeed see a vessel on the horizon. Jim Lad I say, it might be the pirates, might it not? Aye, he says, but I am sick and you are starving, that vessel’s our only hope. Right you are Jim Lad, right you are.

I pitch a course for the vessel.

The vessel is red and a woman waves from on deck. Jim Lad, I say, Jim Lad it’s her, it’s her. Mooring up beside the vessel I climb aboard, leaving Jim Lad on the blue boat. I embrace her. She takes me into the cabin and introduces me to a friend of hers.

Her friend is a mermaid called Ariel, who is sick because she cannot swim. I am greatly saddened by the tale and tell both women of my new friend Jim Lad who is also sick and is lying on my blue boat. Leaving Ariel in the cabin I walk out on deck with her and discuss what must be done.  I tell her in no uncertain terms that Ariel and Jim Lad are dying and that if we are to get home we must leave them together on the blue boat and take the red boat home. Though distressed by this prospect, she agrees.

Back on the blue boat I speak quietly to Jim Lad of a beautiful mermaid that cannot wait to meet him. By now he is very sick but he smiles as I carry him onto the doomed red vessel. Laying him down on the floor I say Jim Lad, you will be very happy here.

She and I watch the blue boat sink into the distance over the horizon. I ask her why she would not read it. Laughing softly, she says she knew it would be too sad and that she would cry if she finished it.

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