Strange things happen at sea

The walk along the beach that Sunday was wild. The wind racing across the sand was fast and powerful, blowing bubbles of foam into the dunes and sand into hair and eyes. The tall dark-haired woman in the Fair-isle hat bent down to stroke the terrier at her feet and lifted a stone from a small cairn deposited by the raging waves. She gazed at it, scrutinising every swirl and dimple before dropping it into the pocket of her thick calf-length overcoat. The collar was turned up around the nape of her neck, but the wind still poked its fingers in.

She turned to the sea and watched it toss an unanchored boat up and down. She wondered whether its owner would find it smashed up further along the beach, or whether it would be swept far out, never to be seen again. She continued walking. The terrier ran ahead, yapping at the foam. It stopped next to a dark lump and barked loudly.

It took her a while to catch up, stumbling over piles of windswept sand and seaweed. She could smell it before she reached the rotting corpse – a mermaid, perhaps. It was, in fact,  the carcass of a porpoise. She wondered how it had died: attacked by a shark, or had it collided with a boat?

’Strange things happen at sea,’ she said to the curly-haired dog. ‘Whales and submarines sink while death floats on waves of delicate foam.’

Kim M. Russell, 8th February 2020

Image result for free images storm blowing sea foam across wet sand
Image found on Wikipedia

This week, a piece of flash fiction for Poets and Storytellers United Writers’ Pantry #6: And the Stars Make Love to the Universe

Rommy is our host for this week’s Pantry, still humming songs from the half-time show at last week’s Superbowl. I’m watching trees bending under the force of Storm Ciara. She’s blown the lid off our ash bucket and empty log bags are flying about like harpies. No beach walks for me today!


28 thoughts on “Strange things happen at sea

  1. That life should sink and death should float. I was rather struck by the stone and cairn that the sea deposited, as if it creates it’s own marker for the dead. The sea can be both beautiful and terrible.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An eerie & enjoyable story to encounter. I miss being near enough to go to the beach regularly but not the ever-present sense that water could rise with just a bad storm.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. To find anything dead is always a chock… though I think nature will see to it that every living thing will one day when it’s time. For the porpoise, I hope she lived a wonderful life before she turned into foam (makes me think of Anderson’s version of The Little Mermaid, not the Disney version)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Bjorn. You’ve reminded me of the Hans Christian Andersen stories I started re=writing as poems a few years back. I really must revisit them, write a few more and do some more work on the ones I drafted.


  4. I love your flash fiction … so descriptive I could smell the salt air soon tainted with the smell of death. The sea is one moment solace, one moment sadistic, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am there! Awesome writing … it lifted me up and carried me along. The sea: so many contrasts … so many images … so many metaphors waiting to stir.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We often forget the sea has many moods and then we all must look out even those who’s home it is. I loved the way you told this as I have lived by the sea at various times of my life and know that she has many moods and always wins an argument!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful. Mysterious. Powerful. Gentle. Awe-inspiring. Terrible. The sea is all these things and more. Its restlessness inspires creativity, as it has in you. Loved reading this piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. There is something extra appealing about the mood and tone of this piece, Kim. I’m quite taken by how even though it reads like realistic fiction, one can’t miss that hint (or, perhaps, more than a hint) of magical realist fantasy. This is a world where finding a mermaid is possible. And after seeing that, the idea of death floating on foam feels… concrete (and can practically glimpse the sharpness of the scythe).

    Liked by 1 person

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