To the Sea

They battened down the hatches when they knew the storm was returning. The little seaside town’s residents had ample warning this time. It had been forecast all week, so there was little excuse for anyone to leave washing on the line, deckchairs on the patio, windows open or unshuttered.

It had last come a year before, that memory still as shocking as the first drops of hail that whipped their downturned hides. People were lost that black weekend, when the day  turned to angry night. An entire family were plucked off the promenade by a crashing wave and swept out to the raging sea, never to be seen again, a costly sacrifice to Neptune.

So the streets were cleared, and the townspeople huddled in their hutches, and waited for the God’s anger to pass. Except for Jack, at eighty years too old to fear anymore. It was his daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren that the storm had taken that day. It was his anger that the storm now mocked in imitation.

He stood on the bandstand, raised his fists to the assailant, and screamed against the driving rain, the screeching wind, the lashing seaspray. His frail body swayed, but his bitterness rooted him to the concrete against the cannonade.

His howl joined the wind, and a grand forty footer lifted him clear over the railing for the family reunion, no mark left behind. Sated, the wind began to calm, the waves drew back, the rain slowed it’s lash. The storm withdrew, satisfied with the town’s annual sacrifice, and let it be still for another year.

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