The Rope and the Sea

The Rope and the Sea
By Ben Loory

A boy meets a girl on the beach, and instantly falls in love.

Would you like to go for a walk? he says.

Okay, says the girl.

The two of them walk along the waterline; they talk together and laugh.

What’s that? the girl suddenly says.

There’s a rope leading up out of the water.

The two walk over and stand beside it. The girl looks out at the sea.

Where do you think it goes? she says. And what’s at the end of it?

I don’t know, says the boy. Let’s find out.

He looks at her.

She agrees.

The boy and girl start to pull the rope in.

It’s a very nice rope, says the girl.

Yes, says the boy. It’s a good material. And it seems very strong.

Together, they pull the rope a long time. It begins to pile up on the shore. But as they pull it further and further in, they find it gets harder to pull.

There must be something big at the end, the girl says. Do you think we should we keep pulling?

We’ve come this far, says the boy. We’re so close. I think we should keep going.

The boy and the girl strain and pull and pull. And when the last few yards come in, they see why pulling had become so hard — there’s an immense, canvas-wrapped object tied to the end.

What is that? the girl says.

I don’t know, says the boy.

The two move closer to the object. The boy bends down and unties the knotted rope. Then he peels back the canvas.

Oh god, says the girl.

The boy stares down.

Inside are two dead bodies.

A man and a woman, lying side by side — lying in each other’s arms. They are bloated and white, and the fish have been at them.

I’m going to be sick, the girl says.

What do we do now? she says a moment later.

I don’t know, says the boy. CPR?

CPR? says the girl. They’ve been dead for days. Maybe for weeks — maybe more.

Have they? says the boy, looking down at the bodies.

He can’t really tell.

Maybe they have, he finally says. Maybe; I don’t know.

But still, he says, we can’t leave them like this. Shouldn’t we get the police or something?

The police? says the girl, looking around. Do you want to get involved with this?

In the end, the two of them roll the bodies back down into the sea. They can’t seem to tie the rope correctly, so the corpses float out separately, one by one.

Well, says the girl, wiping her hands, I guess that takes care of that.

Yes, says the boy, looking over. Yes, I guess it does.

And the girl says goodbye, and wanders off, and the boy stands there and watches. And then he turns and walks away back in the direction of his home.

But that night, the boy cannot sleep. In his mind, he sees the two bodies drifting. And then, in the wind, he hears their voices — two drowning voices, calling.

They’re alive, says the boy. I knew they were. I have to save them.

And he runs.

It is dark, but the great full moon overhead illuminates the beach. The boy strips off his clothes and wades on in, then pushes out into the sea. He swims in the direction the bodies went. He swims for hours and hours. He searches and searches everywhere, but there is nothing, nowhere, anywhere. All he finds are endless waves, endless cold black waves. And every wave, he finds, is colder than the last that came.

Please, says the boy, his teeth starting to chatter. Please, just let me live to find them.

And then up ahead he sees an arm in the dark, and he knows his prayers have been answered.

He reaches out, and finds a thin wrist. He takes hold — it’s the woman he’s found. He pulls her to him, ducks beneath, then rises to buoy her up.

And when he does, there is the canvas, spread out against the dark sky. It looms like a sea creature unfolding its wings, and then it comes down, all around them.

The boy sinks beneath. The water crowds in. And as the rope coils and ties, the boy sees the body in his arms is the girl.

He slips into the darkness of her eyes.

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Soaking in the Sky

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Sitting on the Brooklyn Bridge watching the sunrise; often I do this when I cannot sleep. I long to be near the water at any chance I get and somehow I feel more secluded sitting up here away from the millions that inhabit this chaos-filled city. Maybe it’s just easier to be alone here, yet doesn’t feel so lonely. I guess this city is like that. You can walk around and live within the stories of strangers lives.

My attention is drawn to a young foreign couple…

just steps away from were I sit, shouting out encouraging words to those walking and running by. “You’re a beautiful woman! Amazing body! Keep on running! Great job! Fun, young and fit!” At first it takes me a bit off guard; this doesn’t happen very often, as crazy as things do get. This goes on for the next fifteen minutes or so. I am staring off into the sky, continuing to jot things down in the notebook in front of me. Eventually they approach me. The man asks if I am a writer and at first I am not sure how to answer. “Yes. Most days”, I reply. “Do you always write or only when you have something to say?” The question made so much sense to me. “When I have something to say,” I answered. “Well, I can tell you must be creative. Anyone sitting here on the bridge with this this view at this time of morning must have true inspiration inside of them.” Despite his somewhat thick accent, I understood every word clearly. I wondered how this man, this stranger, could read me so well in an instant. “You know we will never see each other again. Tell me our story. What is it? Just write it down for us and we’ll wait here.”

Inspired, I wrote out their story, spanning a short paragraph. I tore off the page and handed it to them. They then invited me to breakfast. “Do you come here in troubled times? Would you care to join us for breakfast?” I graciously declined but my soul was touched. Even now I cannot fully explain what this interaction meant to me but there’s a chance that it helped serve as a reminder that someone is always there to listen no matter where you may be, even a stranger. We could all use some encouragement and open arms. I wish the world was better and we could all learn how to be more open, honest and kind.

I guess that’s why I’ll always be a dreamer. I designate the way I see things. I predestine the ending. In my mind, everyone lives happily ever after. And that’s my story just the way I fancy it.

The Comfort of Strangers

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So often in this city am I inspired by people I’ve never spoken one word to. I feel this every time I pass by a single mother walking down the street with her children, on the train when I see an artist sketching, the business men and women dressed crisp and clean rushing off to their office jobs, runners traveling along various paths, the countless people who have no home and are braving the streets during a scorching summer day. I’m especially touched when I happen to be lucky enough to come across a musical performance while waiting for a train. Almost every weekend I have experienced an amazing show at the same subway stop. Very often people are in such a hurry and never even stop to listen and I will admit I have done the same. I believe the pace of this city can be overly rushed and chaotic on a level that can create distress on the mind and body. I told myself a while back to slow down and just enjoy the moment which is why I now listen to the music. These people are basically telling their story for every stranger passing by; their souls completely exposed. That type of passion is what drives me and that force alone pushes me to be a better person. I’m not yet sure what I want to do with my life and my future and lately I feel like I’m pulled in every direction. But I’m convinced that if I continue to better myself and keep doing the things I love that I will always be happy. I will make sure of it.

Triumph.

Back in January I began the Couch to 5k Program.
This is actually a 10 week program but I have strayed a little bit from month to month due to life distractions. I still ran here and there, just didn’t stick to the full plan. Well I am more than proud to say that today I finished my last run and by far the biggest accomplishment. I ran 3 miles(5k)/thirty minutes without rest. The very first run, back in January, was a mere minute. I remember the running process being very brutal on my body at first. I was pushing myself extremely hard and it was unlike anything I had ever put myself through. My legs were swollen and very sore for the first several weeks. But I soon caught on and although there are still days that I am less motivated than others, I think it’s safe to say that I am a runner 🙂 I plan to keep this up as it is my wish to participate in a 1/2 marathon at some point. I am not always filled with the necessary motivation to push myself towards certain goals but when I do give my all, I am unstoppable. As long as I remember this, I can have the whole wide world. Surely, I will.