Shad looks with longing out over the bay. The soft green of the Pacific, with its gentle white meringue wave tops blown along by the barmy South Sea Island breeze sparkling beautifully below a storybook blue sky. On the air, hints of seaweed, shell-grit, brine and coconut. Such a rich agglomeration of tastes and he wishes for the time to sample them all. Limping his way down the worn path from the high promontory there is no way to ignore the subtle fragrance of gardinia taitensis or the heady aroma of durian ripening on the ridges, and he stops many times, savouring the completeness of the experience. “The boss would love this” he thought, and setting out again carefully favouring the bruised ribs showing through his left side, he continues downward toward the lagoon.
Panting with the effort, he finally comes to rest just below the series of ageing mounds that represent his former crew. Over some the earth has settled almost level with the ground while the most recent, that of First Mate 'Dusty' Jones is so fresh it does not entirely contain the putrescence within. The taint of scurvy and gangrene unmistakable. Dusty had been a good mate and many times they had walked together contemplating the sea and all that surrounded her. His favourite stick now broken and made into a cross that stands at his head. How quickly turns the world.
Turning inland Shad makes his way to the tiny spring bounded by strelitzia that had so amazed and delighted the boss when they had first swum ashore. Several times a day each one would make their needy way to the brackish little pond, thankful that at least this one essential element had been easy to find.
There would be no rain tonight. There are none of the tells in the air today and it will be a long time before the monsoon comes again. Just as well, because he has decided that rain washes the fun from everything. When everything is clean you don't know you're alive. You may as well be made of stone, sitting there with no purpose instead of being out there in a fit of life brushing against it, touching and smelling, literally rolling in life. Like down on the beach when you dig and find that every moment holds some small creature or the remnant of one. Myriads of little lives spending themselves to make this paradise one shell at a time.
With that thought Shad begins to use what energy remains to reach the spit where the boss lays still and bloated in the sun. Not far to go, only a few steps that cost a hundred miles. He wills his atrophied limbs to move until finally, with his last breaths labouring their way from punished lungs, his tongue dry again in its insatiable way, he crawls on his belly the last inches to his still captain's side.
Shadow licks his masters dry, swollen cheek and, resting his chin on his paws the breath goes out of him and he is gone. High above, the lonely cry of a seagull hails a small sail on the horizon.
Today's prompt “Lonely in Paradise”
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