Aged by the Ocean

I took a breath as the whale dived beneath the churning ocean determined to hold it longer than him. Papa told me to stop being stupid when my face went red, then caved in and pretended to do so too.
We sat in our little boat for almost an hour puffing our cheeks in and out whilst waiting for the whale to surface; I was in tears by then.
“It’s dead, papa!” I wailed.
“Not yet, son.”
“He must be!”
“Not yet,” papa said, but his face disagreed.
When the sea exploded upwards in a fountain of salt water, papa laughed. I didn’t, though. Even when the whale’s flukes tapped the sky and disappeared again, I remained unhappy. I just couldn’t understand that life played out before me as it did every day. No matter how many times an eight-year-old’s told it’s okay down there it just doesn’t sink in. It must’ve been so dark and lonely was all I thought.
I wept again that night when we got home much to papa’s annoyance. I wasn’t sad about the whale anymore, I’d learned that lesson. No, I was just glad it wasn’t me under those tumultuous waves, and couldn’t help thinking that wrong. I soon snuggled down in my bed and forgot about it though. Such is the way when things go unseen, they’re easily dismissed.

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Beetroot-Girl or The Right For Acceptance

A pretty little thing in an average sort of way, Beetroot-Girl roamed the corridors of school like a person on a mission but never quite sure what. She’d hang around the places the cool girls haunted, always on the periphery, never inside, but was just as at home chatting with nerds; she didn’t care what anyone thought. Beetroot-Girl liked everything and everyone, except boys, that was. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I was only ten.
Beetroot-Girl never had a best friend, not as far as I knew, anyway. She’d chat with random people in random ways about random things, but never anyone in particular. I think that’s why when she first started having ‘the attacks’ as one teacher termed them that nobody rushed to help her. They became so regular that people would just prop her up against a wall and wait for her to come round again. The one time she didn’t, her head lolling about like a rag doll in the wind, nobody did a thing, instead, everybody panicked. Everybody except me, that was.
I’d seen a programme on television where somebody collapsed. A paramedic (that’s the word they used) rushed over and started to kiss them lots and rub their chest in a very fast way. It was magic, because they came back to life and I never forgot it. So, without a thought for anything but helping her, I did the same. It worked.
I saved her life, they said. I saved her life and all I got was a slap. It was my first kiss, my last kiss and the one and only time I’d ever seen a person turn beetroot red.
I never saw Beetroot-Girl, as I called her — I never knew her real name — ever again, but I’ll never forget her; the school kids wouldn’t let me forget her.
I tasted her strawberry lip balm when I woke up at night for years, saw how I made her face change colour for an age. Until I was old enough to know why she’d turned red, that was, and by then I just hoped she’d found someone to kiss who didn’t.

The End

** Beneath **


Loose soil and rock displaced by time
Reveals the strength of one who spans the ages.
Below the sight of men lies your true self,
Medusa like roots your security and provider.
Mineral, water and sun your silent cravings but
Only the creaking of bowers an indication of growth.
Yet in the variegated leaves that shroud you
Stands proof of the passing seasons.
Once majestic, now a shadow of your former self,
You sit upon the precipice clinging to life.
Come torrent or hurricane you shall not relinquish,
Nor ask for sympathy from the elements.
And in me you have found an ally, my friend.
For I too cling to life, but with less to show for it.
Your character offers me the promise of hope
That what lies beneath is worth cherishing.