A Tide of Change
“The boat is back.” The words moved from mouth to mouth through our settlement. “Did you hear? The little rower is back in the tree, just as it was the last time.”
I allowed the words to wash over me, while trying to make my excitement match that of those surrounding me. Appearing curious and intrigued would be good, but I couldn’t allow them to see how delighted its return made me.
Most of us spent that day watching the vessel in the tree. Just like the last time it had appeared, exactly a year ago, people wondered where it had come from and how it had ended up in the branches. The ground was dry so the only thing we knew for sure was that it hadn’t been a tidal wave stranding the boat there. And while my knowledge about the vessel and its owner—I had to fight hard to repress a shudder every time I thought about him—exceeded that of my neighbours, I had no real answer for those questions either.
Day turned to twilight before darkness descended, the boat turning into a barely visible silhouette in the pale moonlight but nobody returned home. A year earlier the boat had arrived one day only to have disappeared the next morning. This year people were determined to stick around and find how it would dislodge itself and where it would go. Their presence worried me.
A fragrance moved on the soft evening breeze, something barely perceptible yet heady and alluring. Excited speculation became interspersed with yawns and people dozed off around me. Within minutes I was the only person left awake, excitement coursing through my veins while I waited.
“Have you decided?” His voice came from behind me and was exactly as I remembered it; deep and seductive. A shiver ran down my spine and the hairs on my arms stood to attention but I didn’t turn around.
“Yes,” I replied while still looking towards the tree-bound rowing boat. “This time I’m coming.”
I’d tried to forget the night we’d spent together a year ago. I’d done what I could to purge him from my mind, but like a virus he’d inserted himself in my body; always present and conjuring up his voice, touch and embrace in my memories without warning, at the most inconvenient times.
“Get in the boat then.” He’s still behind me, where I can’t see him but he’s clear as day in my mind’s eye. Slim, tall, with long flowing white hair, he mesmerised me a year ago. I would have gone with him then, but he told me I had to be sure, that the decision would be irreversible. I wasn’t sure what he meant then, and I still didn’t know how to interpret his words but the question had become meaningless. I would go anywhere with him.
He wrapped his arms around me as soon as I sat down on one of the narrow planks in the boat. I knew without a shadow of a doubt he hadn’t walked past me, but my mind refused to worry about how he’d gotten there before me, too busy watching in wonder as a giant wave reached out for the boat and carried us away from the island without a drop of water touching the ground.
I relaxed into his body as the water carried us away from the only life I’d ever known. His lips touched the sensitive flesh on my neck and those few inches of skin became my sole focus.
“You’ve chosen me,” he said; his voice a hypnotic mixture of awe and possessiveness.
“Forever,” I replied not sure why I’d chosen that word but certain it was the right answer.
“You’ve no idea how right you are.” His words were the last thing I heard before teeth replaced his lips and bit down hard, changing me and my destiny irrevocably.
I think I may have outdone myself when it comes to weird this week but hopefully this flash will leave you intrigued, if nothing else.
More stories based on the same image can be found in the Monday Flash Fics Group on Goodreads.