Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Diamond Shoals, Part 4, Final (Fiction)

(Just joining us? Go back to Part 1)

       Old Jacob hurled the rope into the wind. It uncurled and slapped the water. A close throw. But the man adrift didn't see it.
       "Grab it!" Old Jacob yelled, shaking his end. "Grab it!"
       Barely able to spare his hands, the man groped in the gloom. The boat dropped behind the next swell, and the man disappeared.
       The rope zipped tight.
       "He's on!"
       Old Jacob hauled while Patrick rowed against the drag. They towered high, and man splashed beneath them. The ocean rolled, and their positions reversed.
       Jacob's strength plowed him closer through the storm.
       They reached out. Up and over the side, the soaking man flopped into the boat. He coughed and wheezed.
       "How many more? How many aboard?" Old Jacob said.
       "Gone," he croaked.
       The decks of the burning schooner caved. The appetite of the fire was dwindling.
       "Where? In the water?"
       Strings ran from the man's mouth and nose. He gagged and spit water.
       "The life boat," he said. "Told them not to go."
       He pointed to the bowels of Diamond Shoals. Madness. The sea witches danced their lethal dance.
       "They didn't make it far."
       Old Jacob nodded, peering across the shoals. The others watched him.
       He turned to Patrick.
       "Give it back to your father, son."
       Patrick pried his cramped hands from the wood. His father retook the seat.
       "We're going in!" Jacob bellowed. "Keep a strong hand!"
       The oars dug in.
       "There!" Jacob said, pointing the course. "Keep that angle! Stretch out those seas!"
       Old Jacob sized the next wave. He timed it's approach.
       "Now! Turn to!"
       The boat swung toward land. A mountain rose up behind them. Patrick gripped the gunwales. It pushed them, but the oars fought the desire to turn.
       Grasping and grasping, the wave finally released them, and they fell down the back side.
       Already, the next assault approached. Patrick felt the boat's confusion, it's itch to swerve in every direction.
       Patrick's father battled. He clawed and strained and almost conquered the sea. But halfway to shore, they landed in breakers. So difficult to spot from behind.
       Too late.
       Shallow water nipped their feet. The next wave behind them leaned.
       The stern dug in. The boat surfed forward.
       Patrick saw it coming.
       The prow dipped and burrowed. They careened sideways and broached.
       Seven men clattered into the icy ocean. The boat tumbled on.
       Seven men fought. Cursed the paradise below. But one by one, the stillness reached out, and soothed them.

       *       *       *       *       *

       A roaring wind consumed the sea. Driving. Furious. Mountains of water rose from the deep and smashed the land.
       Patrick shivered. The sand rumbled beneath his feet.
       The voices sang, and he listened.
       His father. Old Jacob. The men of the town. The lonely sailor whose name he never knew.
       The wind thrashed his greying hair and carried them.
       "Father? What do you see?"
       Patrick's son. A stout man of eighteen.
       Patrick gazed out. Another wreck kneeled in the delirium of Diamond Shoals.
       His fingers squeezed the sandy gunwale of the rescue boat.
       "Are you ready?"
       Five men waited for his command. He had walked the sea the longest. His skin was gnawed by the salty years.
       The surf pounded in a dangerous rhythm. Patrick's mind wove with the whispering. Men calling beneath the waves.
       He straightened. Blinked away his own heirloom of loss on the seas.
       "Hup!" he shouted.
       He watched, and the waves opened for him.
       "Hup ho!"

Back to Part 3


anne said...

Oh wow... Well done, Jason.
Once I'd "recovered", the ending made me smile the smile of the very satisfied reader.

Bernita said...

This is superb.

Shesawriter said...


Stop writing on the dang blasted blog and submit this stuff! That's an order!

Bailey Stewart said...

It's done? That's it? Awwww, I was so enjoying this and now it's over. Your description of the battle against the sea was so vibrant I could almost feel the pull of waves myself. I loved "The sea witches danced their lethal dance."

mermaid said...

The waves swallow the characters, but then open up for them. It's funny how doors can close and open in the same scene.

Linda said...

Well done Jason. I was on the edge of my seat reading all the parts, still am on the edge!

Terri said...

Wonderful ending, Jason! It all came full circle, and I do like a neat ending :)

Anonymous said...

What a great ending! It truly felt like you completed a circle here.

Anonymous said...

Anne, I'm truly relieved. :) I'm afraid of letting you all down once I've drawn you into a story.

Bernita, much appreciated, Mom. =)

Tanya, yes ma'am! :D

Eve, it is a little sad when a story ends. I'm glad it had an impact on you. I promise there will be many more!

Mermaid, whether they open or close depends on what you want from them.

BeadinggalinMS, very cool. :) I'm happy with how this one came out. To be honest, when I started it, I hadn't thought any further than Patrick getting into the boat.

Terri, phew! I did feel the pressure on this one. I so wanted a satisfying ending. Glad it worked!

Anonymous said...

Sarah, sorry, we typed over one another.

The secondary focus of the story for me (after trying to make the sea come alive on the page) was the cycle of generations. The first rescue attempt passed the torch from the generation of Patrick's father to him. The story ends with Patrick standing on the other side of the circle. His time to step down.

Melissa Amateis said...

Your imagery is just awesome, Jason. It never fails to amaze me.

Shesawriter is right! Start SUBMITTING!!! There are TONS of markets for short stories.

anne frasier said...

i agree with melissa. wonderful imagery, jason! powerful story!


I like the characterization. Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, much appreciated! I enjoy sharing here and seeing what does and doesn't work for people.

Anne, thanks! I hope it worked for you. Pacing is a delicate skill I'm trying to improve on.

A.L., thank you. :) I struggled with portraying the action a bit because I didn't want to get bogged down with everyone's name. Hopefully the extra focus on Patrick paid off.

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Jason, Bravo!!! You've done so wonderful with Diamond Shoals!! I'm so glad to have chosen the picture and your imagination opened and created this. Very awesome. Thank you again!! =D

Ann Marie Simard said...

This is very multi-layered in its meaning because the idea of filiation is there and it is one of the aspects that gives your prose its depth. "The paradise below". You have really got it in yor skin, this story - that's what I said about poetic sincerity, the only thing that counts. Another truthful whisper weaved through your story that gets through. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Kelly, thanks again for the topic and inspiration. Glad you liked it!

Ann Marie, recently in writing I've been demanding more depth from myself. In past years, I've been guilty of taking too narrow a slice of my fictional world. Glad too see that my efforts are showing.

Jeff said...

Good story, Jason! I agree with the comments about the imagery. Well done! :)

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I appreciate it. =)

Rene said...

Ah, darn it Jason, I got caught up reading this and burned my breakfast. Really good.

Anonymous said...

Rene, no one's ever burned their breakfast for me before. That's kind of cool! (Sorry about the breakfast, of course.)

Cate said...


You should have seen me, just POUNDING my keyboard to get to the next installment in the story! What fabulous suspense. What incredible imagery. I could smell the sea. My clothes felt (still feel) waterlogged.

Top notch writing. Beautifully done.

Anonymous said...

Cate, I'm humbled. Thank you! I wanted a powerful experience. I wanted folks to run for a towel afterwards. So glad I managed to capture a sense of immediacy.