The fresh breeze and the gorgeous
morning quickly dispersed Lysander’s bad mood. He reflected that if he had slept
in, then he never would have seen the dawn, or seen his father off to his ship.
Besides, men were supposed to be up early and working to take care of the women.
For a moment the picture of his mother up already baking bread entered his mind,
but was quickly thrust aside. After all, that was just baking, not fishing
As they reach the rocky shore Lysander begins feeling bad about the way he had
treated his father while his father was trying to get him up.
So, he did the only thing he felt that he could do, which was to apologize. “Do
you have a moment?”
“Sure, what is it, Lys?” replies his father with a small smile playing about his
lips and using his nickname for his son.
“Well, you know this morning…” Lysander kind of trails off after this.
“Yes,” prompts Wil.
“Well, I know some things were said and the like, but they weren’t meant. Just
wanted you to know that’s all.”
“I know, and I’m proud of you for telling me that. It’s not easy to admit when
you’re wrong. It takes a real man to do that.” Noting his son’s bright grin he
continues, “Now I’ve got to get going, the fish aren’t going to catch themselves
ya know.” Putting a hand on his son’s shoulder he continues to the line of boats
on the shale. As they get closer a few of the men look up from their various
tasks and give a brief wave of greeting.
Lysander watches how easily the other men from the village interact with his
father, how they all fall into casual conversation as the nets are pushed up and
over the sides of the small boats. Wisecracks and laughter set the tone for the
work making the nets seem lighter than they are.
Lysander throws himself into the work, knowing within a year he will be out here
with these same men. It is his hope that he will get along with everyone as well
as his father does. The words of thanks for his help and the smiles he gets are
an indication that his hope may become a reality. In no time at all the boats
are loaded with nets and food for the men, now it is just a matter of pushing
the fishing boats out into the water.
All of the men get together next to first of the five boats. The lightest of the
men, Hurin, jumps into the one of them to guide it once it hits water. Lysander
joins the others as they begin pushing on the boat. Muscles strain and groans
escape lips as the boat relentlessly moves to the ocean, its wood keel not so
much gouging a line, but rather moving the many rocks out of its way as it
slides into the water. As soon as one boat makes its way into the gentle swell,
the men turn their attention to the next and the next until all are in the
shallow water. Men grab proffered arms and clamber up the sides, joining their
brethren already there. Wil, as the headman, is the last to stand on the shore.
Giving the fishing boats and men a quick glance over making sure all is ready
for another day’s work. Lysander stands next to his father looking over the same
things, trying to see what it is his father takes care of, he knows that one day
these same tasks will fall to him. Both Wil and Lysander seem to reach the same
conclusions as they give a satisfied nod, their movements a near mirror of each
Reaching out Wil ruffles Lysander’s brown hair. “I’ll be seeing ya tonight my
boy. Now mind yer mother and watch out for yer sister Cassi you hear?” With that
said Wil reaches up to one of the waiting hands and gets aboard his own small
Several oars are already unshipped and set in their rungs. A mighty shout comes
from Wil as he bellows out orders to row. In unison the oars rise and fall in
concert making each ship appear to be a graceful bird winging its way out to
sea. When the boats are further out the oars are put back and the small white
sails are unfurled to catch the slight breeze, so they might make it out to the
good fishing grounds. As they begin shrinking against the vast ocean Lysander
focuses on his father’s boat, which he picks out by the small gray pennant
waving from the top of the short mast. He raises his hand in a final farewell
and heads back to the village.
Going about his daily tasks Lysander doesn’t even pay attention to the gathering
dark clouds, but while he is making his way back up to the fish pit to smoke yet
more fish, he does take notice when the black clouds cover up the sun making the
day dreary. Looking up to figure out what has happened he involuntarily ducks as
a raindrop hits him in the face. That one drop is but a harbinger for in no time
at all, countless numbers follow it in a furious charge towards the ground.
Muttering Lysander continues to the pit and quickly puts the rest of the fish in
so he can get back home. The rain just keeps coming down, drenching him till his
clothes feel like a second skin. Slipping and sliding down the hill he sees
other people rushing towards their homes as well. Just as he reaches the bottom
of the hill lightning shreds the clouds, almost immediately thunder booms so
loudly he claps his hands to his ears. His worry a moment ago, his mother’s
reaction to the mud splattered on him, is overwhelmed with fear. He knows what
it means when the thunder sounds that fast. Quickly gathering his thoughts he
keeps racing home.
Nearing the house Lysander sees his mother standing outside in the soaking
downpour looking around franticly, her hair whipping about by the now strong
gusts of wind. When she sees him her posture seems to relax a bit as she beckons
him to hurry inside. Once inside Mayes quickly closes the door and holds her son
to herself fiercely.
Another peal of thunder penetrates the walls causing the boy to jump, he is
comforted by the fact that even his mother shook a little on that one. In the
back room little Cassi starts crying and Mayes hurries off to go grab her.
Returning with the crying child in her arms Mayes leads Lysander to her bedroom
where they all get close on the bed. The closeness seems to comfort Cassi some
as she quiets down and slightly loosens her grip from around her wooden horse.
Jagged light illuminates the main room and part of the bedroom, then thunder
erupts nearby. This starts Cassi to crying once more and Lysander shamelessly
draws closer to his mother again. Outside the wind is picking up to a ferocious
howling like some crazed animal. Crashes and bangs against the house make it
seem that animal is trying to get in, trying to get them.
A blinding light erupts and an overpowering sound deafens the occupants of the
house. It takes a moment for Lysander to blink away enough of the spots to see
that he is now slumped against the bedroom wall. He can feel the rain pouring
down on him even as his clothes try to tear themselves off of him. Looking
upwards he cannot tell if those are stars or simply the dots in his eyes. Nearby
his mother lays dazed, holding Cassi, though he can not hear the little girl
crying for the ringing in his ears. A cool liquid rushes against his feet.
Suddenly a figure enters his blurred sight and Lysander feels himself being
pulled from the floor, the next thing he knows is that he is weightless and
floating above the ground. Vibrations seem to come from below him and he hears
some distant shouting, though he still cannot make out much sound. A minute, an
hour, a year later Lysander sees his mother being laid near him. Making an
incredible effort he pulls himself up and crawls to his mother. Wiping some of
the blood from her face he hopes she will see him. The effort is to no avail and
he begins to weakly shake her. Several shakes later she finally notices him and
gives him a small smile.
Another peal of thunder rings out, and Lysander’s hearing is back. All around
him he hears whispered voices and sharp screams of pain. Slowly looking around
him he notices a group of people around him. Looking up past flying skirts and
inflated pants to mud streaked faces and teary eyes he sees that it is his
neighbors that surround him. A nearby child screams loudly while a robed figure
bends over its bloody leg, with realization it comes to Lysander that this is
the same man from his house. The person looks up as he wipes the sweat and
water from his brow quickly. Doing so gives Lysander a quick glimpse of who is
trying to treat the child. It is Dael; his face looks drawn and haggard.
Seeing Dael, a constant in his life lately, gives him strength to push himself
up. Standing up unsteadily Lysander uses the rough bark of a tree close to
himself to steady upon. What meets his eyes is almost enough to make him fall
back down again. The people are gathered on the hilltop where the village smokes
its fish. Huge trees encircle them, groaning and creaking in the violent wind,
but not managing to keep much rain off of them. Below, below was his village.
Once well built houses and carefully tended vegetable patches, are... gone. All
gone. Trees had fallen on houses others seemed to have exploded; his own house
was missing some inner walls and much of the roof. Next he looked out to the
sea. That hungry wave tossed sea had swallowed up the shore and was in the
process of destroying the houses it could reach, and reach it did - half his
home was already under those angry waves. Truly this could not be stopped or
contained. He looks desperately for his father’s face amongst the people around
so as to have him share in Lysander’s disbelief of the events. His father is
nowhere to be seen in the crowd, and he notices that there are few men around
him. All of them were still on their small boats in that weather. Strain though
he might he cannot make out any sign of the ships. This is too much for him, for
the worst comes to mind and the next gust of wind he loses control and he falls
hard to the ground.
Landing hard he starts looking for his mother again and finds her holding his
sister. Mayes is rocking back and forth holding Cassi, Lysander only stares at
her in uncomprehending silence. A flash of lightning outlines that as his sister
rocks along with his mother, her head stays cocked backwards. Only then does he
note that the form is limp and Cassi’s wooden horse lays unloved in the mud.
Shock causes him to pass out.
Dael wraps his still muddy arms about Lysander and draws him close to him. He
shuts out the wind, the rain, the whole of the world except for this moment,
this second. This young man needs him, he needs his strength. He gives a quick
prayer to the Creator to let his strength shine through him and into Lysander.
With the prayer finished he opens his eyes and looks down to the one he is
holding. His drenched, raggedy beard hides the dirt smeared face that huddles
next to him. He caresses the boy’s dark hair with grimy hands and murmurs soft
words of strength.
Silent tears flow from the boy’s pain wracked eyes as he looks up at Dael
imploringly. “Why, why did this have to happen? Why did she have to…” the last
word he leaves unsaid as if the saying of the word will make it all too real.
His gaze hesitatingly returns to the form in his mother’s arms. It was a reality
that he would rather not face, though as he looks down at the broken body and
hears the gasping sobs of his mother he knows that he cannot lie to himself. His
sister is dead, she is gone and there was nothing he could do. That harsh
thought and the unbearable guilt he feels make him give a small cry and collapse
to his knees, splattering himself with mud and water.
His mother holds the limp form of his sister in her arms. Her tears wash Cassi’s
face free of the dirt that stains it. It seems as if she is but sleeping, so
peaceful does her face look. Her eyelids closed, her lips slightly parted, if he
does not look at the unnatural angle of her neck he can almost convince himself
that she was all right. He reaches out a tentative hand towards her, but his
mother clenches her all the tighter, daring anyone to take away her baby. As she
sobs she keeps saying everything is fine, that everything will be all right. She
talks to Cassi as if she is still alive, the way she did when Cassi became
scared of the dark. Lightning rips again across the sky and the light emphasizes
the sharp angle that her head rests in his mother’s lap. He wrenches his eyes
away from the small body with its calm face.
Instead he stares at the waves that throw themselves against the rocky beach.
There are no signs of any of the fishing ships, only wooden debris that beach
themselves against the rocks. Lysander thinks of his father who along with many
men of the village had gone out in the morning just like any other day to do the
day’s fishing. “He is gone too, I know it, there is no hope for anything else.
It is not fair,” he mumbles to himself. Though his words are soft it seems his
mother heard them for she begins to cry all the harder. She brings up the limp
head of Cassi and holds it tight to her bosom. She rocks back and forth
seemingly willing Cassi to live again with the strength of her love.
Dael releases Lysander and kneels next to Mayes, putting his gentle hands upon
her shoulders. He looks towards the still storming sky for guidance in this time
of pain and sorrow. He whispers soft reassurances into her ears and holds her
with all of the strength that he has. She shakes her head as though she will not
listen and tries to pull away from him all the while clinging desperately to
Cassi’s body. He does not let her break free though, he holds her all the
tighter and continues his soothing words. She in time quiets down some. Dael
then begins to talk more loudly trying to reassure the others around them.
“The Creator shall grant us his strength in this time of loss. He will give us
his wisdom so that we may remember the good things about those who left us. Take
joy in those who remain and honor those who have left. Come, let us come
together.” At first some people look at him with scorn for the pain they feel is
too raw, too fresh, others willingly come to join him though. “Please my
friends, my neighbors, we all need each other now. Let us share our grief so
that we may become stronger through the sharing.” With that he raises his right
arm and beckons to all who had not yet joined him. One by one they come together
to form a large sobbing, shuddering mass. They pull together, the little
village, like the family they are. Those in shock simply stand there being held
by those who care; many others simply grasp someone and cry with them, for the
closeness is a remembrance of life that comforted them in their sorrow.
Lysander alone does not join the other villagers. He stands, a mute witness to
the pain they all feel. He himself knows it is welling up inside of him and
tearing his heart apart. He looks up at the dark, clouded sky and for the first
time realizes it is still raining, that it in fact it had not stopped, but
rather that he had simply stopped noticing it. With that realization, he feels
the cold that has seeped into his bones and it hits him hard and quick. His body
begins to shudder and it is as if he will simply shake himself apart. All the
while he continues staring upwards. The sound of Dael’s quiet words of
consolation and prayers to the creator reach his ears. The love and compassion
that is being poured forth is consumed by his sorrow and is lost upon him. The
eyes that are so full of pain slowly transform to be filled with a rage instead;
he throws back his head and screams up at the very heavens themselves. “You, you
have done nothing for me! Why have you done this to us? What have I done that is
so wrong?!” His demands grow in volume and his need for an answer grows as well
with each question. With his last question he has caused several of the
villagers to look towards him. He does not care, if indeed he even notices. He
waits for his answers, but all he receives is silence. The rage that he had felt
now overwhelms him until he cannot contain it anymore. A scream that is primal
and filled with all of the rage and hurt inside of him is ripped from his soul.
The villagers become silent at the shocking noise and stare at him in
astonishment, and some stare in fear. Dael begins to push himself up off the
soggy ground to reach Lysander and give him what reassurances he can, as he does
so Lysander throws him a look filled with angry determination. As Dael struggles
the rest of the way up, Lysander runs towards the water as fast as he can. The
water still crashes against the rocks trying to devour the earth itself. Clods
of earth and sand fly up as Lysander races towards the crashing surf. Mumbling
that no one else in his family is going to die, he stares up at the wind tossed
clouds and promises the Creator that he will save his
“No! Lysander, come back!”, Dael yells at the departing figure. Seeing that the
fleeing form does not respond, he struggles after it. He knows that he cannot
catch him in his weighted down clothing, yet pushes on with fierce
determination. Lysander reaches the rocky beach and leaps from one rock to
another, never breaking his stride, the ocean spray flies all around him as he
gets further out from shore. Fearlessly Lysander throws himself into the water
with full abandon. The fear that he will find the boys broken body washed upon
the beach after being thrown against the jagged rocks spurs Dael to a speed he
has not had since his youth. Not spying Lysander anywhere he makes his own way
further out on the perilous rocks.
Lysander hits the cold water with full force from his flying leap. The impact
dazes him, but the prickling then numbing sensation the water causes brings his
awareness back. Panic seizes him as he is not sure which direction is up, which
direction he should swim. Each moment of indecision wastes another precious
second of air. A steely confidence enters him; he knows that he will not die.
That he cannot die. The Creator owes him too much now. With that final thought
he begins swimming. After what seems like an eternity, each stroke becomes
labored as he slowly runs out of air. His lungs hurt, his eyes burn from the
harsh salt water, and dark wisps seem to edge his vision. It appears that he has
gotten no further and the surface is as elusive as ever. He continues on though,
and is finally rewarded with the sight of the wave tossed surface above him.
He forces out several mighty strokes and his head breaks the surface, he gasps
for air and it is sweet. Treading water and still breathing deeply he looks
about him to gain his positioning. As he turns he is engulfed by an oncoming
wave that drives him back under the water. He feels the powerful tidal force
churning all about him. The caustic water has already invaded his throat and
lungs. He comes back up coughing and struggling to stay afloat. Riding the waves
he gets control of himself once more and continues in his search. He spies
several pieces of debris at the horizon and swims towards them, eager to find
his father and prove his doubts false.
Tirelessly he swims further and further into the angry sea, fighting every wave
that crashes upon him. In every upsurge he sees a foe that stands between him
and the truth, so he attacks each wave and conquers it madly, heading towards
the last area he saw the boats in the morning. Soon the determination leaves him
though, fleeing in wake of the new horrors he sees. Mocking his mission the
waves prove his worst of fears to be true. Wooden planks and rope swirl about
him, intensifying his precarious position. Then, as if to add a final insult to
him, he sees a body flung about near him. With a cry of dread he surges towards
the body. Upon reaching the lifeless form he grasps it with a tentative touch.
Rocking upon the water it takes a few moments to turn the body and see its face.
Relief washes over him as it registers that this is not his father. Then he
really sees the face. “No!”, he yells, for it is one of the men that worked with
Lysander starts screaming and crying at the same time, while pushing away from
the body, desperate to get away from it and the implications it bears.
Struggling against the current he gets caught up in a large curl. He is forced
underwater once more, and once again he struggles to the surface. Turning to
face the oncoming wave all he sees is a wall of water crashing down upon him,
coming to swallow him as it did his father’s boat. The next thing that he feels
is a solid thump against his skull and then blackness engulfs him. One final
thought escapes. “I join you, father…”