Free writing experiment #1
This is my attempt at Free writing exercise #1.
Foolish dead fishermen. Like a terrible claw the waves came, lifting the boats high and then dropping them without ceremony. We’re going to be crushed, thought the youngest member of the crew. We’re going back empty-handed, thought the oldest. The catch is lost. They held fast to the boat, bracing for the next brutal hydro slam. The waves, like sinister fingers curled over on themselves, rolling and engulfing the first boat. The boat snapped in two, the wreckage tumbling on with the waves, leaving its crew splashing and bobbing and yelling for liberation from the appalling cold of the sea. A second boat was momentarily vertical as it tried to crest another swell, sending more sailors spilling into the sea. This boat too ended up splintered and now presented a hazard for those in the water, most of whom were drifting ever further from their companions. The youngest man vomited as he slugged litres of seawater. As a third swell hastened towards them he caught sight of the snowy bonnet of Mount Fuji, the mountain, seemingly unmoved by the commotion at sea, that ruled the sky. He kept his eyes fixed on the mountain, believing that while ever he could see it he could be saved. Soon he realised that he and other members were forming a raft, each with their eyes fixed on the mountain. It was important to keep their minds on home and on their survival, to deny death its quarry. A third boat caught the wave and was sped happily away from the fray. But with it went their chance of rescue. As they bobbed in the chaotic sea the old man calculated what the loss of today’s catch would mean to him and his community and how they could make it up in time for the festival. It never occurred to him that he could die out here. Not in 40 years had he entertained the thought of becoming a maritime statistic. His grandfather had told him that a fisherman’s priority was to fish, and that only foolish men died at sea. His life as a fisherman had been spent ignoring the dangers, living perilously for the sake of the catch. He felt the young man begin to slacken beside him. The old man punched him in the ribs, hard enough to make him lift his head from the water, swearing and sputtering and kicking. The old man told him it that it wasn’t time to die yet, there was still fish to be caught and that he would be a foolish man if he gave the sea his life today. The young man considered the prospect of being a foolish man for a moment. It might be far less dignified, but would require far less effort. The young man asked how they could possibly fish without a boat and in such terrible conditions. The old man told him to use his hands and his teeth. The young man replied that there were no fish, that they’d all been swept away with the waves. Then go after them! the old man told his human raft. Swim! That way! He pointed in the direction of the mountain with the snow-white bonnet. The mountain that ruled the sky. The little raft began to move homeward. They swam, chasing imaginary fish until their feet touched the shallows. The little human raft collapsed on the sand, some puking seawater, some sobbing, others grinning at the sky. The young man lay on his stomach staring ahead. Beyond the tree line was their mountain, the one that ruled the sky, but it was not the mountain which had his attention: flopping pathetically before his eyes was a fish, swept ashore by the same waves that had destroyed their fishing exhibition. He laughed and coughed and laughed some more. More fish bounced and arched their bodies on the shore, drowning in the oxygen rich air. The young man turned on his back and grinned at the sky with the rest of them. Only the old man was on his feet, dripping and shivering, but gathering the largest fish first and bringing them out of reach of the waves. Soon others were on their feet, plucking the finest specimens off the sand and adding them to the old man’s pile. The old man looked at their cache of fish and observed quietly that if it wasn’t for their foolishness he, and his companions would be dead. Foolish, dead fisherman without a catch. ©