Sunday, 25 September 2016

Short Story: Salt and Freedom

Forgot to do a story yesterday, but it doesn't matter. You pick yourself and try again. It isn't failure, it's life.


Salt and Freedom

The sea smelled of salt and freedom. Grey skies heralded an oncoming storm but I paid it no mind. There were other things I needed to do on the dock that day than mind the weather.

"You want to by passage?" asked the young man by the gangway. "Where to?"

"Anywhere that's not here," I replied. "Where you headed?"

He gave me a detailed itinerary. I didn't care about any of the ports they would stop at; the destination was of no concern to me.

All I wanted was to get out of here.

"You have the coin," he said. I got the impression it wasn't a question.

"Of course." I handed over what meagre money I had; all I'd been able to scrape together when I'd fled.

My passage booked, I walked up the gangplank, a few steps away from the freedom I'd craved my whole life.

"Wait!" a voice shouted.

"Sir, sir you can't go up there," I heard the young man say. The voice that had shouted to wait didn't seem to care.

I close my eyes and paused, one foot hovering over the gunwale of of the ship.

There was a commotion and then footsteps thundered up the gangplank behind me.

"You can't go," said the voice as a hand grabbed my elbow.

"You can't stop me," I shot back, voice hoarse. I had no forgiveness left for this man or his family. I needed to be free.

"I thought you were happy."

I shook my head. "If you thought that then you never really knew me. And if there is any truth to the claim that you once loved me then you'll let me go. I don't belong here."

He looked conflicted, my desire for freedom warring against his desire to keep me free. At last something in his face relaxed, and the hand let go of my elbow.

"Will you turn me in?" I asked softly.

"No," he said as his shoulders slumped in defeat. "I should, but I do love you despite everything." He looked at me like he's trying to memorise my face, eyes sad. "I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you too," I returned, voice barely even a whisper.

The young man I handed my coin to is at his side then, eyes firm and hard. "Sir?" he said, "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to come with me. This area is for passengers only."

I pressed a quick kiss to his cheek; a farewell. It wasn't enough to convey all the words I still needed to say, but it was all we got. I loved him, just as he loved me, but a love that would keep me bound paled in comparison to the notion of escape.

He kept his eyes on my all the way down the gangplank.

I stashed my meagre belongings in the poor excuse for a cabin I'd been assigned and immediately sought the fresh air of the deck.

My feet found the bow of the ship as if it was instinct, and I stayed there until I heard the whistle that announced out departure.

The wind whipped my face as we picked up speed, the salt spray stinging my skin but I didn't care; I'd never felt so alive. I watched the only life I'd ever known grow smaller and smaller even as the feeling in my chest grew bigger. It took me a while to realise what it was; joy.

The air smelled of salt and the scent of ozone that warned of imminent lightening. To me it smelled like freedom, renewal. A chance for a better life.

Yes there was a storm coming, but soon it would pass and the air would clear. I would start my life again.




If you enjoyed this story feel free to purchase one of my books either here, or here. Or you can buy me a coffee here.

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