(1 of 1. Originally posted on September 08, 2023 for the prompt “Washed Ashore.”)
Ken walked the shore as the sun rose, gazing over pink-tipped waves in search of sails he’d given up on seeing months ago. His fingers traced the edges of the worn letter in his pocket as its words played through his mind again.
My son, the Scourge of Calaire has been sighted near Cutthroat Bay. We believe she’ll harbor there for the winter. We know the risk, but if we miss this chance we may not get another. Storms may take us. But if we get through, we’ll arrive unexpected. Come around the east side and cut her off before she spots us. Trap her in the Bay where speed matters little. I won’t come home til she sleeps on the bed of the sea. I may not come home at all. Know that I love you. I do this for you. The sea will be yours one day. Look for me when the first buds swell on the trees. If I’m not home before the flowers fade, I’ll wait for you in Paradise. Your loving father, MP
A warm, salty breeze blew in from the sea. It shook the branches in the orchard on the hill, where the workers prepared for harvest. As the weeks had passed with no news of the Scourge of Calaire, or of the brave souls hunting her, the crowds along the beach had become dozens. Then a handful. Now Ken kept watch alone. He searched until the rising sun blinded him. Then he turned his gaze to the sand. Seaweed. Fragmented shells. Crabs, living and dead. A broken board with the bottom half of some letters painted on it.
Ken stopped. His brain filled in the tops of the letters, picturing them whole. RGE OF CAL. His knees hit the sand. Tentative fingers traced the lines, tactile confirmation of what his eyes alleged. He picked up the splintered wood. Brought it nearer his face. Tilted it forward and back, as if the writing might prove illusory in different light. Wild imaginings bloomed in his mind like mushrooms after a rainy night.
As his head filled with daydreams, his hands continued turning the plank. He flipped it over and looked at the back. Marks in the wood hooked his attention and reeled it in. His heart stuttered. Someone had carved letters into it. A message.
FIND ME KEN – MP