The motion was sickening, but after such a long time you get over it. The row boat slowly drifted in a direction that we didn't know. It was depressingly slow, but we had little choice. We used to argue whether we were going North or South. It was a confusing and pointless argument. Losing the oars to a storm and forced to see the same flat blue ocean drives even the angriest people to silence.
The day vanished beyond the horizon. We spent it laying in an almost fetal position at each end of the boat as the sun burned the skin clinging to our bodies. Night time was a lot more bearable, but that was only because we could drink and say what words we felt like saying. We had both accepted the inevitable. We tried using the stars to guide us, but it was even more confusing. Remembering a single constellation and deciding whether go towards it or away from it, eventually our eyes told us too many lies to trust the sky anymore.
The sound of the calm water lapping up against the boat was soothing. However, I was not calmed or soothed as much was I would have liked, I was struck by a terrifying thought that kept me awake that night. I knew he was up, he preferred to sleep through the day, claiming it was less painful.
"Hey." I grunted, throat sore from thirst.
"Hmm?" He replied. "Drink."
With his permission I took a small sip from what was left, not enough to quench my thirst, but enough for me to speak easily. I could tell he appreciated this forethought. Both our eyes stared at the clean water with greed and desire to live on a little longer.
However, neither of us would fight each other for it. We didn't have the strength and the heart to carry through with it. I wouldn't say we were stuck with each other anymore, rather we had become used to each other, like one gets used to their tongue in one's mouth.
"I've been wondering what is below us." I told him. "Is it the shallow waters we swam in as children or the vast void that the whales play in?"
He did not reply, but looked at me with tired eyes. Sorrow clouded his face constantly, as it did mine as well, without a doubt. I continued my thought nevertheless, considering he was just saving his voice.
"We heard many tales of the creatures of the deep. Strange fish and massive monsters that governed the oceans like leaders of the world. Creatures with arms that could reach from one country to the next. Creatures who sang in misery or delight. Creatures with teeth that could part an island with just the point of the bone."
Again no reply, but I could see he was now in deep thought.
"Drink?" He asked. I nodded.
He took a similar sip of the reserve water and took care in placing the bottle back.
"My father told me a story once, a story about an eye." He told me.
I tried to recall his father. I remembered he was tall and thin, a fine fisherman. I did not know him as well as my friend.
"An eye?" I asked, unsure of what he said in his wheezing voice.
"Yes. He was fishing on a large boat with other fishermen. They sailed far until night came. The ship sailed another day and soon my father could not see home, just the ocean. He stared into the waters, driven mad by such thoughts as you speak now. He always drew strange pictures of fish he dreamt of. I believe such activities caused him to see what he did. The ocean replied to these thoughts. He said he saw something large shift under water, slowly revealing an orange glow the size of an island. In its center was blackness darker than the night sky. It was an eye. An eye warped by the ocean, but an eye nonetheless and his ship was just above this eye. He swore he could feel the life beneath him radiate it's powerful energy, it made him shake."
"What was it?"
"My father said he had no idea. The eye closed again and the water shifted. It had left him, the enormous fish shifting the ocean only slightly, as if it moved slowly and gracefully. He never told the other fishermen, afraid he might be laughed at, but he told me. He kept fishing in the hopes that he could see it again. He never gave into fear."
"Strong men fear not the ocean," I replied.
"Strong men fear not the ocean," he repeated.
Together we smiled softly. It was the island motto, a saying every villager said before stepping into the waves, before setting on a voyage and before death. Even in a villager’s last moments it was apt as Death guided them into the ocean of souls.
However, for a moment the thoughts of approaching death left our mind. We sat there for a moment contemplating such a creature being in existence. It was truly one of horror and wonder. Could such a creature have been so close to home? Did it actually exist? These were not thoughts for us to think on now. They would drive us mad for answers. Yet...
"I think that is enough talking for tonight." I said. "But I cannot sleep. Let me stay awake for the night with you."
"Are you sure?" He asked.
"Yes, thoughts such as these take time to leave me.."
He told me he hated such thoughts and laid down. He fell asleep while I stared at the stars.
The constellation I stared at drew all my attention away from the ocean and I thank the stars for just that. I remember my father talking about his nightmares. Creatures similar to the one in mind, but somehow my friend's father's story brought wonder to my heart, not fear. I felt the thought slowly drift from my mind after an hour, but before my mind could clear the stars shifted.
The constellation disappeared, constricting and twisting. Then the inky sky parted, revealing a bright blue eye which stared down at me like a second moon. After a moment it closed, the constellation returned and my mind drew a blank. I felt tears roll from my own eyes, broken by what I had witnessed. I couldn't move, my neck stuck staring at the sparks of white in the inky sky. Then the boat shifted to a stop. A grinding noise that I had longed to hear graced my ears.
It was sand. Mustering all heart and energy I turned on my seat to stare at the large mass of land that lay before us. I recognized the trees and rocks. I recognized the distant lights of fire. I knew at once where we were because it was the last sight I saw before setting voyage with other young fishermen. The last sigh I saw before blinded by waves, crippling storms and death.
I was home. We were home.
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