Marah of the Sea

By SonnyMeadows

In a boat far out at sea he drifted. How pathetic it was too for he did not
even know which sea it was that carried him. That’s how lost he was. Without a
name, the sea might as well have been out of a timeless dream or myth where
talking fish and sea maidens, or mermaids actually deemed to make their presence
known.

As it was he was down to his last half dozen containers of caviar. They and
the sirloin went not at all well with the cabernet.

As the sun beat down, seeming as it always had and always would, he
thought to himself, Roset.... Must have roset with the salmon.

He lay with his head resting on a somewhat dirty synthetic pillow taking up
the better part of the fore in his substantial but bare life boat.

There was no shelter from the beating sun on his head just as there was no
shelter for the fragments of his mind within. It was not the ordeal of being adrift
which had brought him to this state. Nor was it the circumstance which had cast
him hither. It was not known, in fact, what had brought him here at all. To the
objective observer the further tragedy will show that, although he was not wise to
it, no other living person was left who was aware of these things either.

He did have an oar and a pillow. When the urge to hide away left him one
could find him rowing, slowly and steadily.

The sound of the water lapping against the strain of his strokes was
something. It did not hurt him or annoy him or make him afraid. When was it that
he came to the conclusion? It’s best to save your energy. What’s the point of
rowing towards nowhere? After this realization he spent much time with his head
on his pillow. He spent so much time like this that this perfectly good pillow could
accurately be described as uncomfortable. Now he just rowed to row. No reason
at all. The sound of the water was peaceful. It was a rhythm that beat out the
absence of time.

La Mer sucks the life away from you. No, La Mer gives life. What is
obvious? All these things pass away. When there is nothing more pressing there is
nothing but time and the pressure of now. What cannot let go seeps out through
the cracks - all these things are meaningless, the sun is coming up as it always will.
Groan away, there is no point in rowing towards nothing.

He laid the oar carefully down upon the bottom of the boat and took his seat
for no reason. Finally the maddening light let go its grip and now there was the
sound of the water lapping against the rocking boat. Almost the same sound, it
seemed, as the water against the oar, but maddening because completely beyond
his control.

This is it, he thought, or ‘This is it?’, if both then neither but the fact
remained - his last meal was about to be had. No point in eating a part. That will
not keep him alive. Certainly there was no point in saving it. Here he was starving
with but a morsel of food in his hand and every chewing motion had entwined a
feeling of guilt. Let go, he thought but it made no impression. Let go and
swallow. Now the meaning of hunger was made clear.

There once was a man adrift at sea and he was sitting in his life boat, the
boat which had saved his life, upon a Sea of Samsara whose name he did not
know.

Marah why aren’t I surprised to see you? She said nothing- just went about
her business of nothing. Think this no dream, you who witness, unless you know
of the timeless dream and the living myth.

It was a familiarity which kept him from noticing. The sea had become an
ocean of possibility and he did not care. He looked out to the horizon.

“There’s no food left,” he remarked and Marah looked up at him with a look
of deepest concern. “We shall surely starve...”, “unless...”

“Unless?”

“Oh, nothing.”

“What? Unless you eat me?”

“Yes, unless I eat you damn it!”, “Is that so wrong?”

“You won’t eat me!” She took up the oar.

“I will!”

The head of the oar came around swiftly and knocked upon his head. In a
tingly daze he crawled back over to his place at the fore of the boat.

“I will eat you!”

Marah sat calmly with the oar across her lap.

“Just you wait,” he whimpered.

He closed his eyes and let the ache subside. Presently he added, “yes..when
you sleep. You can’t stay awake forever.” Not at all so she couldn’t hear he
declared, “I’ll eat you when you fall asleep!”

But it couldn’t be any other way, for the moon could be seen now in its full
glory and the night was closing in around it, just as it should.

So there the two companions lay, neither daring to drift away into slumber.
He opened one eye to see her lying calmly with eyes closed, and then shut his eye
again. He opened it again but found that she too was peeking at him.

“Feeling sleepy aren’t you?” he said. She said nothing but regarded him
with one eye. She closed it again.

Comforted in his knowledge that he would dine upon his first love he drifte
dinto a blank sleep.

When morning came the light and heat grew with urgency, waking him to
attention. He was surprised to find himself alone inside the boat. This, you may
find ironic, was what seemed peculiar. Not that he was in company, but that he
as alone.

“I’m sorry Marah!” he said to the breeze. “I won’t eat you!” La Mer de
vivre seemed empty and barren. Brace yourself; there is nothing but the sun
eating down.

The spirit of the sea is a woman and she can take many forms. I think I need
not describe to you what these are, you who have known many women. There is
but one mythic sea, her spirit is of the nature of a woman.

So what is left but to peer into the sea, unfathoming its depths? When the
unexpected occurs:

A simple fish could be seen swimming away below the surface when he
plucked his head out of the water to meet the man face to face. Jumping back
instartlement he picked himself back up to peer over the side again, but no fish.

Then looking around he found the fish waiting for him on the opposite side.

“Hello,” said the fish. “I am the Salmon of Unlimited Knowledge. Ask of
me any three questions and I will answer them for ...” With a slimy thud the oar
came down upon the head of the Salmon. Hauling it aboard the man immediately
began to gorge himself on what, he later thought, might as well have been sushi.

Night fell calmly that once upon a time. It was easy to believe that his love
may come back to him. So easy in fact that he closed his eyes and with a slight
backward nod he made it so. “I thought you were dead,” and with these words and
the opening of his eyes Marah was there before him.

“Am I?”

“Am I in heaven then?” Looking around he saw everything the same. “No.
Then it’s hell.”

“No, not hell.”

He regarded her. “I’m sorry I tried to eat you.”

“Oh listen to yourself, you sound so ridiculous.”

There was nothing more to be said. Uncomfortable moments came and
went. “You have to leave, don’t you?” Nothing.

She sat knowing as the man closed his eyes, abiding as he fell into sleep.
The night around him was full of gentle sounds.

Like a hound dog knows he knew that day. Maybe it was in the way his
head was abuzz with a cloud of oppression. He never screamed out, he realized.
All this and he never screamed out loud. Just know this. Let it go. As the night
fell upon him he felt arms cradling him. Wordless. Close your eyes - keep them
closed. The breeze caressed his face, or was it breath? Let it go.

Unauthorized Copying Is Prohibited. Ask the author first.
Copyright 2003 SonnyMeadows
Published on Wednesday, September 22, 2004.     Filed under: "Short Story"
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