Thursday, March 4, 2010

Scotch and Seamonsters

Alone, he sat on the sand and watched the sun hover above the tiny ripples on the lake. Nearby a bird sang an evening song, thanking his maker for a beautiful day and longing for a companion with whom he could share this charming view. At least, the man on the sand thought that was what the bird wanted. The solitary warbling, with never a response, was haunting and lonely.

His fingers found a rock buried in the sand, worn smooth by the beatings of time. Digging the rock free, he reached back and hurled it toward the water, smiling as it skipped out over the waves. Behind him his friend stopped singing.

“Don’t stop now, Sam. You’re all the company I got until Katy shows up… if she shows up…” his voice trailed off. Sam must have heard him, for he began to whistle a new song, another mournful tale of solitude and woe. The man wondered if birds ever felt sad or lonely or happy. Probably not, he decided.
Something caught his eye in the distance and he spoke to Sam. “Here she comes, sing her in softly now, don’t scare her away.” Sam ignored him and continued singing just as loud as before. Together they watched as the thing grew closer, rising and falling gracefully in the water, outlined against the setting sun, and then disappearing again.

“Katy…” he whispered. He couldn’t remember why he’d settled on that name. Katy was a pretty name, and as good as any for her. Sam kept on singing, his voice rising in pitch, wailing about some lost love, one that likely had never been.
Katy was majestic, gliding through the waves, now and again leaping into the air, sailing, twisting, seeming to fly and then slapping down back into the waves. A monster she surely was, but he had known fine, highbrow ladies with less grace and fewer manners than this creature. She seemed perfectly satisfied, rejoicing in the beauty of life, of the evening sun and the chilly water of the lake.
In awe the man watched. Even Sam, who rarely thought of anything but his romantic endeavors, changed his song, weaving the notes in with Katy’s dance, rising and falling, swelling his chest with pride in the knowledge that he alone could accompany the display.

The dance and song continued for a time and the man leaned back on his elbows, smiling as every care seemed to melt in the beauty of the moment. At last, Katy disappeared under the water. She did not resurface for a time. Sam stopped singing, and the man popped the cork from his bottle of Scotch and held it up to the fiery horizon. “Goodnight, my bonny lass.” He took a drink, sighed, replaced the cork, and stood up to leave. Then, a short way out, where the water was deeper, she burst from the water, shooting into the air to a height he would not have thought possible. Spreading what looked to be wings she twisted in the air, curled over like a monstrous dolphin, and plunged back into the depths.
Unconsciously he uncorked the bottle again and, taking a couple more pulls, muttered the word “impossible.” He stood there, staring into the fading light. Sam tried to sing, but even he was too astounded. Well, once one accepts sea-monsters, is anything really impossible?

“Good night, Sam,” he said, and the bird lurched into a sorrowful tale filled with black nights and empty hearts as the man turned his steps homeward, away from the beach, away from his friends, to return to a cold, empty bed.

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