The Eternal Song, Part Fifteen: Ebb Tide

Clumps of seaweed cast up on the rocky beach shriveled and stank under a hot cloudless sky. In the tide pools, small fish darted back and forth while crabs scuttled across the pebbles. Apart from the receding waves and the shrill cries of the gulls, there were few sounds to be heard.

Ko-ato made his way from one tide pool to another, net in hand. Whatever he caught today would be his contribution to the Midsummer feast. For the first time in all the years since the village’s founding, there would be no goat to roast. He had butchered his last goat a month ago, driven to it by the urgency of the People’s hunger.

A fish flopped and struggled in his net. He put it into a sack slung over his right shoulder and then glanced behind him, making sure he was alone on the beach. The settlers rarely came there, as it was a difficult walk down a steep cliff path; but one never could be sure of what they might do. They were all over the island now, building their homes and grazing their beasts wherever they pleased. More of them arrived every year in their large sailing vessels.

Today the horizon was empty of ships, a clear unbroken line marking the boundary between the realms of humankind and of the Gods. In his youth Ko-ato had thought the world to be as neatly ordered as that horizon—a world that made sense, with everyone having places and tasks that belonged to them, just as birds had their nests and rabbits had their burrows. He still felt that familiar certainty some mornings upon waking, before he was lucid enough for the memories of the past year to push it out of his mind.

Maybe the fish trapped in the tide pools also felt lost and uncertain, after they had been carried by the waves to a shore where they might easily fall prey to a man with a net. Or more likely, they never thought about it at all, simply trusting that the sea would rise again and bring them back to the waters they knew. Why should they not? The sea had always provided for their needs before.

Bright shimmering scales showed clearly through the shallow water as another fish left the safety of a rocky overhang, to be promptly scooped up in the net. As he dropped this latest victim of fate into the sack over his shoulder, Ko-ato knew that he never again would have enough faith to be as simple and trusting as a fish. And perhaps that was just as well, given the fact that the occupants of the tide pools—or as many of them as he could catch—would shortly become the villagers’ dinner.

Continue to Part Sixteen

Part Fourteen: Light.
Part Thirteen: Pilgrim.
Part Twelve: Priestess.
Part Eleven: Scout.
Part Ten: Lost.
Part Nine: Mountain.
Part Eight: Forest.
Part Seven: Shards and Dust.
Part Six: Warning.
Part Five: Gifts.
Part Four: Midsummer.
Part Three: Hunters or Hunted.
Part Two: Rehearsal.
Part One: Beauty.

on 08/3/11 in Art/Play/Myth, featured | 2 Comments | Read More

Comments (2)


  1. Gwen McKay says:

    Thanks. :)

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