Cirencester Scene April 2017


Boat Trip – by Iris Anne Lewis


All night long rain had battered against the slate roof and stone walls of the boathouse.   Marina pulled on a thick sweater, boots and cagoule, then unbolted the door. The wind was gusting even into the sheltered cove where the boathouse stood. She tried to open the solid wooden door but the gusts were too strong. Then, for a moment, the gale slackened. She pushed the door open and slipped out. Just in time, as the wind gathered strength again and hurled the door back into place.

She battled her way down the rough path to the beach, the wind snatching her breath away, rain and salt spray lashing her face. Even the gulls seemed scared, clinging to the cliff face in sullen masses as the gale raged on.  The waves were rearing up, pounding the cliffs in fury. Bucking broncos, Stefan had said, trying to explain the fury and power of a stormy sea to Marina. Never go out to sea when the weather is like that.

Marina trudged back to the boat house. She was stuck here for another day at least. Still, the boathouse was warm and snug. She and Stefan had converted it together into a simple, homely cottage for their frequent trips to the coast.

She spent the rest of the day indoors, secure against the elements in the sturdy building of stone and wood. Towards evening she thought the wind was abating and tuned into the shipping forecast. Stefan had taught her how to understand the technical terms and phraseology. She was right, the storm was passing.

The following day the wind had dropped. The sea was calm and a thick quilt of cloud spread across the sky, its greyness mirrored in the dark depths of the sea. Marina could see the Shark’s Teeth, the row of granite pillars jutting black and jagged out of the sea just beyond the mouth of the cove, and knew the time had come.

She walked over to the small rowing boat she and Stefan used to fish in the cove. Stowing her bag with care in the stern, she dragged the boat into the water and jumped in. She pulled steadily out to sea, drawing comfort from the rhythmic motion of the oars. Drawing level with the Shark’s Teeth, she shipped her oars and for a few moments sat still as the boat bobbed up and down. Above her head the gulls swooped and sailed on the unseen air currents with insolent ease.

Marina took the urn out of her bag and to the threnody of the gulls’ mocking calls scattered the ashes onto the sea. Stefan was in the place he loved best.

As Marina rowed back to land the mist rolled in behind her. She beached the boat and looked back out to sea. There was nothing to see but fog.