Saturday Shorts: The Ship

This is a sort of nostalgic piece, one told from a more distant viewer with touches of the characters’ emotions as well. I guess it’s kind of about the inevitability of life, and how things go on, even if it isn’t how you imagine it will be.

The Ship

Bright and sunny, a beautiful morning for her last voyage. Rather than dismantling the queen of the fleet, she was going to be sacrificed to the ocean, given a watery grave, which she deserved for her many years of service.

Men ran about, preparing her sails for the final voyage, then gathered at the rowboat and looked solemnly over the ship. It was a quiet moment, only the gentle chug of water coming in through the hull below breaking the silence, along with the waves knocking gently on the ship’s sides.

The men got into the rowboat and left her behind, moving slowly so as to watch her last few moments, drifting along until she sank peacefully, keeling over and dipping her bow into the water until she dived for the sea floor, her final journey.

Her retired captain, who had come to the shipyard just for this occasion, sniffed and wiped tears from his eyes. No one judged him, several others were lacking in the dry eye department as well. They saluted the choppy water where the ship had gone down, then turned their eyes to the shore and headed back. Yes, she would rest on the floor of the ocean forever, and there be a testament to the many, many voyages she had traveled without once sinking.

The mermaids flitted back and forth around the majestic ship as it sunk. Such a beauty, this one, but without a crew screaming about, they knew it was another skeleton for the graveyard. Nothing to loot from there, but it did make for a nice, if brief, show. They guided it down to a good place, where the ship rested gently on the sea bed. It settled with a careful creaking sound.

The mermaids brought coral and sea urchins, starfish, and other things to begin the population. Soon the ship would have a gorgeous, sessile and mobile crew covering her planks, and she served her final days as the nurturing ground for another coral reef.

Above, the captain returned home, touching the statue of the ship outside his house as he passed it. “Rest easy, my lady,” he said, before going in and hanging up his cap for the last time. He settled down in his armchair and watched the sun move slowly across the sea, imagining that he could see the ship sailing off into the distance, with him at the helm, steering her on into infinity.

The ship settled into her new home with the grace that had kept her going through the stormy seas for so long. Her sails slowly rotted and fell, and her mast hung a little crooked, but still she sat, keel straight, bow pointed toward the horizon, as though just waiting to be set loose on the ocean’s surface again.

Eventually the water nudged her onto her side, but she did not protest, accepting it as her fate, and embracing it, as she embraced her new crew, a flurry of small creatures and the larger ones that hunted the smaller ones. And so life continued, both above and below the beautiful, endless ocean.