A Deep Ocean


Walking along a dirt road, bare feet brushed by sand, dragging a stick across the soft surface, her eyes droop with exhaustion. Long desired sleep far from near, she keeps walking along the dirt road. Eyes trained on the path ahead, she thinks of nothing except putting one foot in front of the other. 

Home haunts her like a lingering shadow, chasing her down the road and hiding in the trees surrounding her. Step after step, she feels no closer to her destination, on an endless track that never runs out. Yet she knows she is getting closer as the sounds of the ocean envelop the forest, the thundering of crashing waves against rock reverberating through the trees. 

A flash of red crosses her vision, and she turns to see a little red bird place itself upon a nearby tree branch. Staring at the cardinal, she marvels at the bright shade of its feathers- it looks like fresh blood. The wind whispers to her, pushing the girl forward, and taking her attention from the cardinal in the trees. As she turns her back, feet kicking up loose dirt, the bird focuses its black eyes on her back. The girl continues walking, stick in hand, bare feet sinking into the damp dirt covering the road, and begins to hum an unnamed tune.

The road bends ahead of her and the girl knows that home is near. Relief floods her body at the sight of a little chimney poking through the trees. Like a beacon standing against an endless night, the small cottage welcomes the girl and the shadow of a smile graces her lips. Leaning the stick against the stone wall beside the door, the girl knocks once and opens the thick wooden door. Rusted metal hinges creak with age as she enters the small space awaiting her. 

Though no one is there, no one is waiting for her, she is not alone. A lamp on the table flickers to life and the roof seems to clatter to her in welcome. Though she is tired and her feet ache from the long walk, the girl must make herself dinner and sets about the small but exhausting task. The wood sitting in the fireplace lights up without command, waiting for the cast iron cauldron hanging over it to be filled. Chuckling at its eagerness, the girl grabs freshly picked vegetables and begins to chop them as the water boils, any impurities being chased away in the heat. Humming that same unnamed tune to herself, she makes a soup her mother taught her, with a flavor that always comforts her soul no matter how tired or how broken.

Her mother, the girl misses her mother so. Looking out at the cliffs that surround her home, she thinks of that kind smile. The house is not right on the cliffs, it is far enough from the edge that the girl does not have to worry about falling in, but she misses her mother so. Her mother who would sing old songs to her to get her to sleep, her mother whose arms were always warm and always ready to hug, her mother who disappeared without a word, leaving her all alone on the edge of a cliff. Though what torments the girl is the fact that she knows exactly where her mother is yet does not have the courage to go to her. 

The ocean below berates the cliff, thrashing against it with all its might, and white foam splatters as blow after blow lands on the rigid surface. The sound of water and rock fills the air around the girl and she listens with great care, fearing that she might miss some call, some word, some hint from her mother. Meanwhile, the red cardinal lands on the windowsill, watching the girl as she watches the cliffs, its black eyes surveying the bowl of soup sitting in front of her. 

The bowl is laying in front of the cardinal, and the girl stares into its black eyes, seeing her own reflection in them. For a reason she cannot describe, the look it gives is familiar, almost warm. As the moon rises higher into the sky, both girl and bird turn to see its shining light, reflected in the violent waters below. Though she is not full, the girl opens the window and allows the red cardinal to drink from the soup in her bowl, and the memories of her mother dance around her, as if they are trying to tell her something.