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Dreaming - online short story written by Chris High

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DREAMING: a short story

Down by the beach they sit and dream.
Tired old men, with thoughts they keep hidden, watch as the boat pulls into the harbour with a fresh delivery. The show is as noisy and as over the top as ever. It's always like this on Delivery Day. Somehow I doubt that it will ever change.

Waves wash over the rocks on the shoreline, sending fractured water into the air in bursts and shellfish lie dispatched onto the white, pebble-speckled beach. They have been evicted from their home to be scattered like litter on the sand. Unlike those of us who have been abandoned here, I feel that these molluscs and crustaceans at least have a chance of being reclaimed by the water when the tide returns. We have little chance of such salvation.

Shouts can be heard echoing down from the surrounding mountainside. A group of men are up there, busy clearing a path through the dense forest for others to follow. They have seen the arrival of the new delivery and, as I turn to scan the mist covered outcrop of the mountain range, I see they are working in the rain. The leaves of the trees are slick and lush looking, even from this distance. The work party won't mind that. In fact, given the heavy heat of the day, they'll welcome this refreshing first light drizzle of summer.
Turning back to look out across the sea, I notice that a seabird has got caught up in the distant fence line. Its frantic struggles for freedom have made it exhausted and so, at last, it gives up to instead hang limp and pathetic, by one broken wing.
I turn away.
I turn away and shut my eyes.

Once more she is before me, the prettiest, loveliest, sweetest girl in the world. Her emerald eyes are laced with tears, searching for me. Her long red hair shines in the glow of the sun, as it lays damp across her shoulders. Specks of sand are stuck to long, evenly tanned legs that only stop at the hemline of her white, single piece costume. It fits perfectly and accentuates the curvature of her deftly crafted body.
Slowly she draws to a halt before me, her toes buried in a thin covering of sand and places her delightfully long fingers on my waist. Her eyes are intense, her brow curious.
And then, with a wistful smile, she moves forward and places on my mouth a long lingering kiss that stirs my soul. I place my hands slowly around her and hold her close to me, revelling in the sea-salt that has dried - even in this short space of time - upon her full lips.
We part and I stand back a step to look at her again though my hands never leave their place. The sweet smell of her lingers on the gentle sea breeze, whilst her fingers stroke at my hair.
I swear that when the time comes for us to eventually sail away, things will be different. This is a lady who deserves to feel the sunshine on her back all of the time. She deserves all that is good. All that is not mine to give.
As we part and she drifts away, I know that this is a vow never to be fulfilled.
I open my eyes.

Night has fallen and I am back inside.
A rough, biting wind, causing the meshed glass windows to creak from its touch in their wooden frames, has lashed the gentle rain of earlier into a torrent.
The new delivery moans about me. Not through fear of the weather, but rather through fear of the future. The noise of the chains that have been tied to the new arrivals until they have earned a little trust, echo through the concrete mess hall that serves as the so-called recreation area. The stenches of stale sweat and cheap badly prepared food is mixed headily with the despair that fills the room. Bright neon lights all but burn the eyes and tobacco smoke blown out in rank, choking clouds further burden an already cloying atmosphere. The scrape of metal chair legs against the room's bare floor seems to grate at my very spine.

Many a threat or whispered confidence makes up for a lack of any real conversation. Meaningful talk is stifled in such a place as this. This is no place for debate. Debate is a right of the free and all of us here have had that right to freedom removed. The men, both experienced and new, are experiencing the same pressing claustrophobia that is prison life on the island and are resigned to it.
From this defeat there is but one escape and that is to turn inward.
I have found a doorway out of this place by closing my eyes. By closing my eyes and dreaming of the girl I have left so very far behind.

©2003 Chris High


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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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