The Black Reached Inside Me

Posted: December 4, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

black oceanThe ferry hit a light rainstorm on the way back to Liverpool. Nothing that it couldn’t handle, but the rising and falling of the ship made me seasick. I walked out on deck, because I couldn’t handle laying on the bench in the common room anymore.

The stars were beautiful. Concentrate on the stars, I forced myself. Even with the floodlights from the ship to my back, Orion was clearly visible, its stars bluer, redder, and more warm and living than they had been back home. Here, in this blackness, you could almost hear the universe breathe. The miraculous part was that as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, the dimmer stars appeared. It was like compressing the beauty of twilight into a twinkling moment. I wished they could shut off the floodlights so that I could see what the Milky Way really looked like.

The ferry was racing a fog. You could actually see it coming up behind us, where the black of night met the fog’s gray. The air was so saturated with water that the stars seemed to ripple, as if we were looking at them on the bottom of a wishing well.

The ocean stretched into darkness so thick I couldn’t see the horizon. I could see the wake running away from the ferry at a V-angle, tiny waves that disintegrated into trickles against the larger ones that slapped against the hull. Everywhere I heard the undulated roar of the foam. The black, overcast sky absorbed the ferry’s floodlights. The sea was black, too. The black reached inside me.

I couldn’t walk down the slick, spray-sheened deck without shaking. I either hugged the side of the hull or held a death grip on the railing. I couldn’t escape the certainty that at any second I could slip on the deck, fly off the ship, and be lost under those black waves. Who was I kidding? I could barely swim. They wouldn’t know I was gone except for my classmates knowing I slipped off. They wouldn’t find me in this dark. I’d be dead by morning, for sure.

The ship rose…fell…rose…fell…. Every time the ship fell I could imagine the stomach-fluttering sensation of falling, of stepping out over nothingness and… The breath caught in my throat. My knuckles whitened on the rail. I could feel the nothingness I was falling into tickling my feet and catching in my stomach.

I imagined the oily, sludgy, dragging sensation on my legs from soaked pants, that would tire me before I should be tired. My shoulders burning, then sleeping, and my mind screaming No!!! before I should be tired. And finally, surrender of the body. Drowning in terror, the will would fight until my lungs bloated with water and blood loss to the brain rolled back my eyes. The sea was so huge, so impenetrably dark. Nothing could ever fight it.

Time to go back inside. Those benches were looking pretty cozy right now.

  1. A.D. Everard says:

    You can really feel for this character, suffering from seasickness, trying to escape the horrors beneath deck, only to find new ones when he comes up top. I like the way he starts off looking at the stars, but is inevitably is drawn to watch the black waters, his fearful imagination in full swing.


    • writingsprint says:

      Thanks! I have to admit this one’s mostly autobiographical. The fear wouldn’t go away. I was a wreck when I went back inside the ferry. That’s exactly why I wrote it down, too. I figured that as awful an experience as it was, at least some good came out of it: I had a good, rich insight into what fear feels like that I could use for writing!


      • A.D. Everard says:

        Well, you sure got it! I’ve been seasick, too, for the entire first week of a six week voyage (traveling from Australia to England by ship as a kid), only I wouldn’t admit to it – I kept insisting I must be sick with the flu. LOL.


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