Another short story I wrote back in 2008 to 2010 for The Cypress Times in Texas. I haven’t
“Father, let me take the Sea Hawke. I can bring home more fish.”
“Son, it’s one thing to go out past the bay on your own in the Mermaid, but you need more experience with the Sea Hawke. The Sea Hawke is much too big for you to handle on your own.”
The older man lifted his hand palm outward and said no more. He stepped out of the deep sea fishing boat that had been in his family for generations. He glanced at his 15-year-old son, Simon. He was tall for his age and sturdily built like his older brother, but had a defiant nature that sometimes got him into trouble. He watched his son for a moment before wearily heading home.
Simon threw a pebble into the water of their little cove and stormed up to the end of the wharf where his small run-about was tied up. He turned his head to see his father step out of view.
“It’s not fair,” he spat into the cooling breeze.
Simon clambered into his small dinghy and pulled the cord on the small motor. The motor revved and he released the rope. Skimming across the water his eye wondered momentarily to the Mermaid anchored beyond the cove before concentrating on the Sea Hawke a little farther out where the water was deeper.
He eased off the throttle as he neared the Sea Hawke and pulled in alongside. “I know what I’m doing,” he muttered under his breath, gritting his teeth and hauling himself over the side of his father’s precious boat. He’d been out in the Sea Hawke since he was seven. His brother, Thomas, who was only three years older, had taken him out to sea many times.
The engine struggled to start. He stood at the helm and clenched his teeth. “Come on.” He tried again and the motor roared to life. He let the engine idle while he pulled up anchor and methodically coiled the chain onto the deck. With care, he guided the Sea Hawke forward before he turned the boat and headed out to sea.
It was almost an hour of gentle rising and falling over deep-sea waters before he slowed the boat to a stop. “This looks perfect,” he spoke into the salty wind. He watched sea birds fly in circles just above the surface of lightly foaming waves.
“Okay, now the nets.” He struggled and perspiration trickled down his face. Finally the net went over the side and disappeared almost instantly.
He returned to the helm and allowed the boat to move forward. The thick ropes that held the nets to the deck now trailed behind the boat and began to sag under the weight of his catch.
“I knew I could do it,” he congratulated himself.
The boat jolted and twisted in an unexpected swirl of waves. “Huh! What the…”
Simon struggled to steer the Sea Hawke. It began to tip to the starboard side. The wind had also unmistakably risen and Simon began to panic. He cut off the engine and ran to the stern.
“Oh no! Father will be angry.”
The Sea Hawke heaved and Simon grabbed at the ropes for balance. He suddenly found himself leaning far over the edge of the boat. He stared into the clouded eyes of a dead young whale which had snagged in the net. Its weight was pulling the boat over.
When the boat steadied and rested almost completely on its side, he gingerly reached for a fishing knife that hung from a hook on the stern.
“I … can’t … reach … ” He stretched as far as he could but the rise and fall of the boat wrenched it out of reach. He struggled to breathe, coughing violently as the fall of the waves threatened to choke him. The salt stung his eyes and blurred his vision. He vomited onto the deck. Dizziness engulfed him.
Simon shook his head to clear it. He must be hearing things.
“SIMON, ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?”
Simon looked up and around until his eyes fell on his father’s face. He was a little way off the bow in The Mermaid. Through the sea spray he saw Thomas lob a rope over the top of the bow but the dizziness returned and he grabbed the net as the boat rose and fell heavily.
Suddenly, Thomas had a strong arm around him. Thomas’s free hand hacked away at the ropes of the net with his knife. It seemed like an eternity to Simon, but finally the net gave way under the weight and fell into the churning waves. The boat rebounded almost throwing them overboard together. But Thomas held tight.
Simon sat on the deck of The Mermaid, wrapped in an old blanket. He shivered and coughed. The tow ropes slackened and tightened as the boats pushed through the heavy swell. His father hadn’t spoken since Thomas helped him aboard The Mermaid. He turned to his father standing at the helm and met his father’s glare, eyes slightly closed, jaw stiffly jerked sideways. Simon fought against the tears that suddenly threatened. He had hurt his father and lost his trust. Quickly wiping the blanket across his eyes to avoid his father’s penetrating stare; he took a deep breath.
“Are you okay, my son?”
Simon nodded in his father’s direction before looking up. His father’s face had relaxed a little and some of the softness had returned to the deep sea-green eyes. “Yes, Father.” He looked back out over the stern and watched Thomas expertly work at the helm of his father’s crippled Sea Hawke.
© Chrissy Siggee
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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