Stepping Stones

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium
A short story inspired by the Imaginarium House one word prompt -- salt. Following a route across the sea?

Submitted: June 05, 2017

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Submitted: June 05, 2017

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Stepping Stones.

 

The ocean stands between us. A cold and unforgiving sea of waves and spray, today whipped up to ferociousness by the wind. I walk along the beach, lost in thought. It is summer but apart from the date you would never have guessed.

 

The sand is pale, gritty. The stench of rotten seaweed is everywhere; what the wind blows away it replaces yet again. There are shells, pebbles, and the occasional rock that breaks out through the sand. I can’t afford not to look where I am going or I’ll end up flat on my face.

 

For a while I pause, stand still and watch the gulls. They dip and dive, swooping down to the ocean’s surface then return back to the sky. So many of them, constantly on the move and always on the lookout for their next meal.

 

Away in the distance I can see something moving. It is too far for me to really make it out but I think it is.......a dog. It is moving away from me, probably in pursuit of it’s owner. Other than that I seem to have the entire windswept beach to myself.

 

And then, a short way ahead of me, I see something strange. There seems to be a path of rocks, boulders, whatever......and it is leading out to sea. Out towards you!

 

I arrive at the edge and stand looking out but I cannot see where it ends. Could it really take me all the way across the ocean? Of course I know that that is not possible but even so, isn’t it worth a try! I know it is stupid, irresponsible even, but I take a step up onto that first rock. There is no danger, no risk......not at this stage. The waves barely reach to lap around it.

 

Some kind of compulsion, or is it insanity, makes me continue onwards. It’s a bit of a stretch, to go from one rock to the other, and the water is becoming deeper the further I venture. But still I carry on, out in to that sea.

 

And then it just stops! There is nowhere else for me to go. The waves threaten to send me sprawling, to swallow me up. I had not realised quite how far I had come from the shore. One slip and that would be the end of me!

 

There is nothing more for me to do but to turn, try to make my way back to land. But there is one thing I will do first. One thing that I have to do now that I am that bit nearer.

 

I shout out your name! And for a minute I let myself picture the wind wrapping it up and carrying it straight to your ears. You might laugh but that’s the truth.

 

How had I failed to notice how far I had gone, walked out into the ocean? And I had been oblivious to the depth, the strength, of the sea. It’s salty spray stings my face as the wind lashes it against my cheeks. I can taste it......the salt.

 

Several times I find myself starting to slip, losing my footing but not enough to send me down to a watery grave. And if it had, honestly, at this time I would not have cared. The gulls are confused to have me standing so far out at sea. They wheel and scream around me, making it more likely that I will over-balance.

 

One foot then another, one foot then another, I slowly and painfully make my way back to the waiting sand. My shoes are ruined, salt-stained and soaked, as are my jeans. My teeth are chattering and I cannot stop shivering. My salty tears mingle with the sea-spray that has half-dried on my cheeks.

 

I wouldn’t come out here again, that’s what I tell myself. I’d stay away from this beach altogether. But I am lying. I know that there will be no way that I’ll be able to keep myself from doing the same thing over and over again, not now I’ve found that path.

 

For to have that chance of you hearing me, just once, is worth a thousand tries and I will not give up.


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