Story: Departure


By Vera Mottino text and drawing (c) 2013

In the engine room the noise was obsessive.It pounded and clanked and whirred into his brain. It sounded like a message sent to him.

He had avoided thinking about the past lately. Tumultuous, tempestuous, it had all been, at times stormy like an angry sea. He was no longer young; still strong and fit, but his past had made him tired. The noise in the engine room was as overwhelming as his past. And hot, like the tropics he knew too well.

His turn ended. Now he could clean-up and go on deck. Maybe to avoid thinking any more, or perhaps to  think seriously about what he should do. How to change his life.

He loved the old vessel that plied a portion of the Mediterranean. He loved the sea. His life would always need to be on the sea. But how to change… what to do… The sea was his world. He had known that ever since he was a young boy in Kansas. Finally at 17 he had found the courage to tell his aunt: ‘I want to go to sea’. She has raised him. A boy landlocked in the prairie, tied to a farm. She was stunned when she heard those words. But she understood the dreamer with faraway vistas, not yet seen, in his honest brown eyes. A loner. Sharp, intelligent, intense, and secretive. Not made for endless repetitive farm work.

When, for the first time he saw the land vanish away and endless water advance he knew moments of elated happiness.

It had not been easy for him. He did not want the Navy. He could not stand that kind of discipline. Eventually he was hired as a cabin boy; and eventually he moved into a machinist’s tasks. Aboard ship he had adjusted to the necessary discipline of a mariner’s life. On land it was another story. His passionate heart found it easy to fight.

Now, as he began climbing the narrow ladders to go up on deck, he hoped to receive a message from the sight of the sea. When he reached the upper deck he paused and stood leaning on the railing. The face of the sea was inviting, sinuous, resplendent, peaceful but not flat. The air was golden. A lightly suffused yellow sun mid-sky was descending into sunset. The eye of the sun, fixing calmly on him, seemed to promise an eventful life yet to be. Peaceful.


…the end

A collaboration between

Vera Mottino, text and drawing (c) 2013  –  ilghepardo.wordpress com

Apostolos Mantzouranis, ‘Departure’ (c) 2013  –


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