Sunday, December 03, 2006

Creative Writing: Where are We?

Here's another bit of prose without a home.
They sailed past dozens of islands, harbors and peninsulas, all looking remarkably similar to the untrained eye. Occasionally one of the more restless passengers would ask the captain or a crew member to name a place as they passed.

“What’s this we’re coming up on now, Captain?” they’d ask, pointing at another stand of trees off the port side.

“That’s 700 Acre Island.” Or, “That’s Pulpit Harbor.” And so on.

And then the passenger would carry this very small bit of information back to their friends, and settle again into a feeling of comfort and safety. It was reassuring, after all, to know that places had names.

Asked more broadly, questions about their location would get more philosophical responses. This was intentional, as both captain and crew wanted the passengers to revel in the journey without worrying about destination. “You’re on the coast of Maine. You’re on a boat. You have arrived,” the captain would explain at the start of each trip.

She had learned this on her first sail with them. “Where are we?” she asked the mate on the second day of the voyage.

“We’re here,” was all the mate answered.

“Yes, but where is here?” she persisted.

“Cap’n!” the mate shouted to the helm. “This nice young lady wants to know where HERE is.”

“Here?” the captain shrugged, and pointed his hand behind his head. “It’s about halfway between back there and up there, over there and over there.” As he spoke, he traced a cross over his head as if drawing the compass points on the sky.

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