Monday, April 17, 2006

Diamond Shoals, Part 3 (Fiction)

(This one is dedicated to Kelly Parra, who sent me a link to a picture and challenged me to make it come alive. Just joining us? Go back to Part 1)

       The boat rose and fell. From peaks scoured by wind to dark valleys blinded from the world. Never resting.
       Never safe.
       Shivers ate Patrick's bones. Only low in the caverns of water could he duck the driving cold.
       Old Jacob slapped Patrick's father on the back. Shouted in his ear.
       "Rest! We'll need you later!"
       The huge man nodded and released the oars. Old Jacob slipped into his place. He resumed the slow rhythm.
       Patrick's mind swam in blackness. In the distance, the land leapt and hid behind swells. It's stability forgotten. His inborn senses fought to keep him upright, but the ocean was too fierce. His body flung in every direction. His reality peeled away.
       "You see her?"
       The water surged, and they crested again on the roof of the seas. Howling rain raked them.
       "Off the port bow!" the lookout yelled back. "Under a mile!"
       Patrick wiped the water from his eyes to see the schooner. Listing hard, it's decks washed with the sea.
       They sheared another wave. Salty foam drenched Patrick's hair.
       "Her sails are under! She's capsized!"
       They all craned forward. Except the oarsman.
       Patrick shielded his eyes. Mystified, he stared. He caught a wondrous glimpse of color. Sparkling orange. Like diamonds fluttering through air.
       He couldn't cry out. He didn't have the words.
       They rolled down into darkness. Patrick waited. The sky raced toward them once more.
       "She's burning!" the lookout screamed.
       Patrick's wonder stiffened. Not diamonds. Flames illuminated the spray.
       His spirit withered at the horrible sight. Fire too delirious for the rain to quench. She would burn to the waterline.
       The veins in Old Jacob's neck pounded. His mouth hung open. His lungs were spent.
       "It's up to you, boy!"
       He was the next. A stout man for eighteen. He gripped the oars. The wood was blotched red with blood.
       "Row like the devil!"
       The paddles bit water, and he shouldered the weight. He left nothing behind.
       "That's it! Long strokes! Give 'er hell!
       He pulled. And pulled. He ignored the pain.
       He snapped to commands. Adjusting course. Swinging the bow to treacherous waves. The world faded. He beat to the thumping of his heart.
       "No! We can't cross the shoals!"
       "But we can't turn to!"
       Old Jacob and the lookout were arguing.
       Patrick turned to see their progress. The schooner loomed north, just a couple hundred yards away.
       "Look at those breakers! It's nothing but white! The angels will take you in there!"
       "But we can't show our stern to these seas! We'll broach!"
       The other four men looked to Old Jacob. He walked the seas the longest. His words carried authority.
       The lookout dropped his eyes.
       "Starboard, Patrick! Away from the shoals!" he said. "Be easy now! We'll try to tack in!"
       The wood rolled in Patrick's hands. His palms blazed with fire. Skin ripped raw with splinters and dripping blood.
       They crept closer. The gale billowed sparks and ash off the deck.
       "Wait! Did you hear it?" someone shouted.
       Patrick rowed.
       Tip-toeing across the tumult. A sound. Like a bird beating wings against the cyclone.
       "There! A man on the figurehead!"
       Patrick turned. A man clutched the arching beauty of a woman on the prow.
       "Ahoy! Ahoy there, man!"
       Old Jacob bellowed through cupped hands.
       The man waved. A brief and weak gesture.
       The wooden hulk rolled with each blow of water.
       "That's it Patrick! Bring us under!"
       The fire gnawed loud enough to hear. Old Jacob coiled rope in his hands.
       "Do it man! Jump!"
       The dark figure let go. He plunged into the battering sea.
       Much too small to make a sound.

On to Part 4
Back to Part 2


Bernita said...

"The land leaped and hid.."
Oh Jason - excellent.
And you did not forget the figurehead.
A terrible beauty.

Bailey Stewart said...

You have such a tremendous talent for imagery. I am in awe. I loved the line "Tip-toeing across the tumult. A sound." I really look forward to reading these.

Terri said...

{{claps hands}}
I'm loving this one! My own heart is racing with the exertion :)

Linda said...

Excellent job Jason you always make me feel like I am right there in the story.

Bhaswati said...

I couldn't agree more with all of the above comments. I am in awe and eagerly looking forward to the next part. Keep them coming!

Anonymous said...

Bernita, pointing out meaningful little touches in writing are just as important as critiques of the problems. I very much appreciate your willingness to do both! =D

Eve, thank you pointing out your favorite parts and elements!! It's so valuable to learn what resonates with readers.

Terri, I have to thank Kelly for chosing the topic for me. Sometimes the best choices are made by others. This is my little tribute to "The Old Man and the Sea" and "Moby Dick."

BeadinggalinMS, much appreciated. I hope you're feeling miles better! :)

Baswati, thank you, my friend. I'm glad you're here experiencing these stories with me.

Bernita said...

As long as you realize, Jason, that I always start from the premise that everything I've read of yours is GOOD.
Don't think you've ever put up a poor piece.Or even a mediocre one, for that matter.
Now,me son, the lookout.
"His voice was shrill".
Instead of him yelling followed by that line, possibly "The lookout shrilled...?"

Anonymous said...

Bernita, now that you point it out, that line probably falls into the "unnecessary description" category. I think I'll strike it.

Thank you for the vote of confidence on my writing! Know that it means a great deal to me.

Shesawriter said...

Boy did you made this one come alive! I could feel the water on my face and hear the voices. Great scene, my friend!

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

You are doing so great with this, Jason!! I'm enjoying this so much! =D

Anonymous said...

Tanya, I'm losing myself in these scenes. It probably shows. I'm really enjoying the chance to convey the mighty feel of the ocean to a small, small boat.

Kelly, very glad you're liking your story! It would be embarrassing if I blew it. ;-)

Mary Louisa said...

Jason, I'm back reading blogs again after a hiatus of at least six weeks! And a visit to yours this morning has been a joy. I can't pretend to have time to read your fiction again, but just scrolling through and skimming what I've missed has been a delight.
p.s. if you haven't checked my blog lately, I've got a good rec for a doggie bone doctor in case, god forbid, your Whippet ever needs help. Our rescue IG of questionable breeding (his looks leave lots to be desired ;) had a foreleg set at Penn, and a patella repair at the Vet Referral Center, and I much prefer the latter facility. Our Marchwind IG, knock wood, has never had a bone problem in his ten years of life. Good breeding really makes a difference.

mermaid said...

"But we can't show our stern to these seas! We'll broach!"

I read this from the beginning. The characters infuse the boat with their fear, their blood, their souls. The boat itself is like a wild stallion running away from fire.

This is so graphic, Jason. I see and hear everything, and can even feel the tidal wave of fear mounting. I wonder if it will break against the diamond shoals into ripples of salvation, or splinters of doom.

Part 4 will tell...

Ann Marie Simard said...

Tip-toeing across the tumult. A sound. Like a bird beating wings against the cyclone.

Still in the prosodic writing mode, I am reading rough diamonds with this story. A narrative Dylan Thomas who left the shore.

I really like this, among your other texts. The imagery is so rough and vivid, as the ocean, yet the word-painting, as Cate once put it, is so well mastered it is no accident - no sudden sea change from another world... you're a writer. And I admire the depth of scale as always, from an "absent", "objective" narrative voice {pretendedly so} letting shine the written objects solely, to the most lyrical, giving evidence to the voice itself.

Neither romantic F.Scott Fitz nor macho Hemingway...

Anonymous said...

Mary Louisa, glad to see you back!! It's great to hear your dog is okay. We just had canine Lyme Disease and a 12-inch skin tear to deal with. Why did I get dogs again? I will keep that animal hospital in mind. It's not too far from us.

Mermaid, I so appreciate your thoughtful comments. :) In my mind, I can see you delving into the words and searching for meaning. Much of the time, I hoped to place the meaning there. But other times, the meaning created itself and found its way into the words. Thanks again!

Ann Marie, I'm very humbled by your comments. It's such a gift having you out there, hungry for what my words can paint for you. Thank you for taking these journeys seriously. :)

Ann Marie Simard said...

Jason, just the same here. Thank you for taking my journeys seriously.... and your poetically charged writing and comments. These images live with me, they have a reality of their own.

You are not a wannabe, no way. There is something that always shines through - poetic sincerity and truth. And that is all that counts. Rhetorical trips and tricks are so easy and some seem to get them better. Not me. Not you. That's a real diamond. Not a fake shining gem.

Anonymous said...

Ann Marie, you're very welcome. :) I can't wait to see where the journey will lead from here.

Rene said...

You've really pulled me into this story, Jason. I love the action and sensations. Great writing.

Anonymous said...

Rene, thanks for the kind words. I enjoyed writing this one very much. :)