12th Day of the the 7th Sun, Sirene
We were camping on the cliffside overlooking the Sea. From the cliff you could see whole rainbows of fish in the clear water. The clear turned to blue on the horizon, then faded into a distant purple cloud.
Mother and I were painting. Women’s craft. Father disapproved of it but mother loved when we would spend time together. A few times already she had caught my eyes shifting to the horizon, and this time she put down her brush and shook out her hair in the sun.
“Paul, dear,” she asked me. She smiled. “Do you want to see the ocean?”
I turned red, but then moved my head up and down, still to small for my ears.
“Come with me,” she had said to me. She gently took my hand and guided me down the steps, carved into the cliff. She held my left hand, other hand jingling in her breeches pocket.
We reached the shore in an instant, like we had floated there. She turned the corner and pulled me into a cave where a boatman sat next to his small vessel. A shad boat, with a bluish mast dyed from the clouds across the sea.
He was young and fit and red-haired, he didn’t look like he was from Sirene. He had dark eyes. My mother nodded to him and spoke to him in some gobbled language I couldn’t
understand. I don’t remember what language it would have been, in my recent
reflections I have assumed Aramaic. The man never introduced himself to me, only looked at me through those obsidian eyes as he helped us onto the boat.
“You will have the greatest time of all, little sailor,” he said to me.
Mother squeezed my hand and told me, “I know this is what you want, you’ve loved the water since you were little. Let’s go, son. Fair winds and following seas may be ahead.”
I remember looking at her. Little flecks of fire in her pale eyes, an energy and strength I’d never seen before. I gave her a smile, touched her hand, and then touched the main mast. She was hers and I was mine, but we were both at the mercy of the boat that glided, weightless, towards the heavens.
My mother and I sailed the rest of the day, until the sun went down. The boat master taught me the slip knot, the reef knot, the rolling hitch. When it was proved that I could tie these knots suitably, he lent me the Spirit, still steered by him mostly, but as a boy I was allowed to grip it.
My mother already knew the knots, and pretended to be impressed by my meager skills. She sat in the sun, shaking out her glowing, salt-dusted hair and trying to touch the enclosing eveningclouds, readying to block out the sun. She let her feet dangle over the side, laughing at fish and letting me guide her towards the dividing line of earth and sky, and then back home.
When at last we disembarked, she paid the man three bronze circles, and turned and walked back to the cliff where our paints lay forgotten.
My voyages with my mother were anything but boring. We moved in secret, from
small ships to merchant cruisers, garnering whatever little time we had on the sea. My brother was often jealous of our escapades, but he was too proud to ever ask to join in.He kept his body into training each morning, and his nose into books each night. I never felt stronger on the sea, never felt more lively and assured of myself, but I never stopped wanting to go farther than around Dhannar, and Sirene. A beautiful country, it was small and something I had seen and overseen. I told my mother this, and she would smile, and murmur that my time would come. Soon. Eventually. I prayed she was right.
I miss her every day, my confidante, my brilliant adventurer. She charged brilliantly into life until her last day, towards the hands of the Husbands. May the sea and sky guide her to the world above.
I hope to live like her, live brilliantly, live charging into the seas and earth. She was the best of her name, a Morien more than I was and more than I will be now.
Fair winds and following seas,
Paul, House Morien