Flash Fiction

The Rime of the Brackish Mariner

The wind speaks in Roquebrun.

A labyrinth pond there I once fished as a boy, where darting, infant mullet kissed a fallen mirror. Away, behind eyelashed dunes, mother languished and father malingered on a Martian beach. Ahead, a choppy fringe of mountains loomed and in between, and all around, the Mediterranean’s zephyr played and urged:

This way, not that!

And I’d move along, following the call with my sis – seven year old mule for my dinghy.

It’s better over here!

Call and come, call and come, always travelling under the sun; horizon to horizon.
Late, we saw a dumpling isle; a rusting sandbar in the evening sun, and doubtless home to latin treasures. Into my boat we jumped.

Yes, Yes! Go to the island.

I paddled hard until my salty skin like leather – and bloated tongue, too – made my sister laugh for joy. Over the deeps I rowed where mullet danced no more and gliding shadows in the brack no longer looked like earthly fish.

Come! Come! This island’s fun!

We leapt through patchwork shallows onto the pristine beach. No plover stippled the littoral, no ragworms cast their sandy wool, and though we looked for snakes, for once we saw none.

Over here! I’m over here.

Hot sand spread our toes as our legs madly pedalled to take us to the other side. The margins here were honey-warm and though our shoulders blistered red, bleeding freely down our legs, we followed the gambolling wind, over a spit, past a dry lake bed.

The mountains, you have to see the mountains!

Zulu reed mace hides us; our parents search but never find us.
We cannot risk to shout, I fear; they’ll heed the lament that conjured us both here:

The worlds… You have to see the worlds…

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