Friday, September 29, 2017

The Horizon

The Horizon
By Michael Cannata  

Salt air stung his eyes as he stared off into the distance. The life-raft bobbed and tipped with the waves as it drifted with the current. He had stopped rowing, again. His arms felt like lead weights. He'd lost any real sense of direction days ago. He'd been drifting for two aimless weeks… maybe longer. Time was another thing he had lost all sense of.

He'd nursed his limited food and supplies as best he could. The food was gone; Today's water ration was almost gone.

"Damn! Damn! Damn!" He cursed loudly. He chastised himself again for drinking so much that first few days. Back when he expected to be found quickly. He was confident for the first few days. But that confidence had faded a long time ago. Panic was setting in and he was getting desperate. Help still hadn't come. Hopeless, he was sure now, it never would. He prayed for rain, hoping to catch some. The sky had been a dry, clear blue since the storm.

When the storm hit, he wasn't more than forty miles off the coast. The hull of his boat had breached somehow. Water rushed in too fast to pack any gear. All he had was what had been stored in the emergency pack in the inflatable raft. His wife had panicked with fright. She was terrified of water but she always enjoyed her rides on his boat.  She panicked and pulled away as he tried to hold her and get the raft launched. As the rising water covered her legs she jumped off the sinking craft before he could save her. He lost her to the churning waves in the dark; never hearing or seeing her again.

When the sun finally broke through, he tried to get a fix on his location. Without a compass or binoculars he had nothing to go on other than his best guess. Land should have been west of him. The only thing visible was a few birds and low clouds in the distance. Believing they were over land, he started rowing towards them. As time wore on he realized the sun was setting behind him. He'd been rowing east; away from land! It was a mistake he would make a few times.

The rising sun gave him a sense of direction for a short time. During midday, he felt himself becoming disoriented. He often got confused and changed direction. Heading back the way he came. What way that was, he didn't really know anymore. He hadn't seen any birds in days.

Exhausted, he could barely raise his arms anymore. He hadn't eaten in days. Increasingly desperate, every fiber of his being wanted to give up, surrender to his inevitable fate. Yet, each time he started to give up, something inside him would take over. The only thing he had left to count on. Hope.

Each time he tried to quit, he would shake his head and start rowing again. He had to keep trying. Direction became meaningless. There was only one way to go… towards where the ocean meets the sky. Land had to be just beyond that horizon.

"Please! Please!" he prayed with each weakening stroke… it just had to be!

No comments:

Post a Comment