Swept Away (Flash Fiction)

Catherine held her shawl close to her body as the wind ripped and pulled at her clothing. Her dress blew with a fury around her ankles, a fury that was matched by the waves pounding the shoreline and splashing over her feet. Dark clouds galloped across the horizon, blocking the sun and shrouding the large island from its light. Catherine stood and watched as the white sails of a moving ship hurried away from the storm, from the island, from her. Even from the shore, she could tell that the seams of those sails were taxed by the forceful wind. Her hair slapped at her face as she hoped, wished, that the cloth would tear, the mast would buckle, and the ship would be rejected from the sea.

But the ship held its integrity and stayed true across that violent ocean, taking her loving husband away. The white wings of that vessel dashed away toward the final spot of blue that existed in the sky. It faded away with that blue and the darkness of the storm took over her life.

The sea pounded the earth before her and pulled away the sand below her feet. The cold water swirled around her ankles and wetted her dress and numbed her toes. As she sank into her place in the ground, the clouds above her began to spit rain. The air grew colder. She pulled the shawl tighter around her face. The light faded from the sky, and the dark clouds took everything for themselves.

When Catherine turned to leave, she saw another woman who was standing on the shore as well. She was alone and they shared a glance that told each other they were together in their loneliness. Catherine looked down and saw the small swell of the woman’s belly and felt an immediate sting of envy, knowing the emptiness of her own womb. When she looked up to the woman once more, she felt a surge of relief for not feeling the burden of fear of a coming life. The other woman was beautiful, young, and scared. Very, very scared.

Catherine thought to approach her and talk to her, to try to comfort her on this unbearable day. But she only walked on. The wind lashed at them both and the rain fell in larger drops.

The months went by and the women waited within their lives. One grew with life while the other withered with spite. The ship with full, white sails never again breached the horizon.

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