The Puffin (iii)

My bleary eyes gazed out across the water and I concluded that I was still dreaming. This must be some bizarre waking dream cast on me by a sea witch. Here I sat on the same mound of ice that I fell asleep on, seemingly moments ago, but there stood the shore – at least three hundred yards away across the ocean! How strange. At once I stood up and the ground swayed beneath my weight. “Gods!” said I in fright. Still half awake, my foolish mind jumped to an impossible answer – I was a giant waking after a long sleep. A giant who had dreamt he was a boy named Leif and here under my mammoth feet was Iceland herself, the size of a small room. But this did not explain why I saw the shore across the waves and also didn’t explain why the fallen tree looked peculiarly like a fishing rod, or the strange building castle that resembled a can of worms.

The truth became clear and the playfulness I had to the situation disappeared with fiery striking stress – while I slept I had become stranded on an iceberg. A lone boy sitting on a lonely jutt of ice, floating as aimlessly as the clouds across the sky. Now I hear you shout, “Leif, just swim home. Put those broad Nordic shoulders to some use!” But that would have been as fatal as if I jumped from the frosty tips of one of those moonlit clouds, the water was so cold that I would be dead before I could give a hug goodbye to my faithful, abandoned donkey. I heard his fading heehaw as I drifted out to sea, he would surely starve without me. And then I started to consider my own health. I had no food save for the tin of worms I had for bait.

Cold winds picked up and the clouds crowded. I watched the sky as there was nothing else to do, I looked hungrily as the clouds devoured the clear sky and bloating up until they covered all the heavens. At this point I was clinging to my knees, accepting the consequences of my untimely nap – I would die slowly and on this lonely shard of ice. Further and further the winds blew me. How small my donkey seemed from here, as if I could reach out and slip him into my pocket. I became anxious imaging how small seemed to my donkey. If I tipped over the horizon would I simply disappear entirely? Not just my body but also from the memories of my mother and my father? Just like my brother Jon, I was destined to become broken and eaten by the land. He became the part of the mountains just as I would become a drop in the sea. In despair I began to cry. Tasting my salty tears I began to laugh, “Oh look I am already becoming part of the sea.” My laughter choked through the snot and tears until again it was deadly quiet.

Exhausted and mentally fatigued from endless mental debates, I did what I do best went to sleep. Crawled up in a ball I slipped into a dreamless sleep, unaware a thick blanketing fog was inhaling me into its fetid maw.

When I woke up for the second time on my new floating home, I had no illusions that this was not a dream. I felt the hard reality in my aching stomach. I had exactly five worms in the can, with which I could hopefully catch five small fish – sardine or some juvenile salmon – cut them in half and eat one half while the other half can be used as bait to catch a larger fish. Soon I’ll be catching a marlin or a tuna fish, then I’d set my ambitions on something larger than a shark, hopefully a great white. With a hop, skip and a jump I will have climbed the top of the food chain. “My god, what will I do with all this extra meat,” I said to myself naively as I still looked down at the measly tin of worms – in which I saw a full seafood platter. With food taken care of, I wondered how to return home. I thought of a solution rather easily. If I could catch a shark I could then bait a right-whale, not that I would bait it with meat but I would bait with my story. Once I catch a great shark, news will travel far and wide across the little critters. My story would travel from crab to crayfish, from hake to haddock, until eventually from the lisping fat lips of a walrus a whale would hear my tale.

By then the tale would have grown (as these things typically happen). I did not  slay a trivial shark but a hydra! all while sitting on one hand in the midst of a black night under a new moon. The whale is the biggest rumour mongers of the sea, their songs are beautiful to human ears but are mere gossip to those who understand. And they’re songs carry far and wide, I am sure whales off the coast of Australia would have heard about Alexander’s victory at Issus long before news arrived in Macedon. And when they arrived in droves to see me with their own eyes I would lash around them my fishing line and rein them in. How mother would laugh when she saw me flying across the ocean, a melting sleigh pulled by whales spouting sea mist and painting fleeting rainbows in my wake. All success takes it imagination and good planning, I thought with a smile, still looking at my tin of worms.

<- Part 3 of 9 ->


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