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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)

TITLE: From Up Here
By Andrew Gall


Voices were carried away by the howling wind, stolen from the mouths of the speakers as soon as the words were uttered. Rain pelted the backs and shoulders of the weary men, soaking through their ponchos and numbing the flesh beneath. The bucking seas seemed to laugh at the vain attempts of the sailors to stay on their feet. Each moment of stillness was followed by tremors of terror and dread as the wild ocean imposed its undeniable will upon the little vessel.

The little boat rocked and groaned as the waves tore at her sides and masts. The four seamen who manned her clutched at anything they could find, desperately waiting for the storm to abate. They had abandoned all their attempts to control the little fishing schooner as the tempest gathered its fury. Among them, only one man stood erect. At the churning helm of the small ship, a small man with bent shoulders and a weathered face clutched the wheel of the ship. The churning ocean wrenched the wooden wheel from side to side, but the man held the spokes of that wheel in iron fists. Ropes held his shoulders and lashed him to the helm. If the ship has broken, he had no hope. The other three men, fearful of their lives looked constantly at the passive expression the old man bore. He looked steadfastly ahead, the wheel spinning wildly, his arms straining as he held tight. Every so often, he would point directly in front of him and yell, silently as the wind stole his words, “Light ahead! There is light ahead!” The three crewmen who clutched ropes and railings and crates looked in vain for the object of the old man’s concentration. They could see nothing but the angry sea that threatened to overtake them.

The small boat and her passengers fought the gale through the night. Eventually, the wind and rain began to subside, and the vessel settled into a tired trot on the rising and falling seas. As the next day dawned, the men rose to find themselves floating serenely in a lagoon framed by towering jagged rocks. The weary sailors nearly fainted in terror at the thought of being dashed upon such terrible obstacles. The looked back to the helm and saw the old man, still lashed to the wheel of the ship, gazing tiredly at the shoreline. They ran over to the old seaman earnestly asked if he was well. He nodded slowly, his gaze never leaving the shore. One man, after assuring himself that his friend was not hurt, begged an answer to the question that plagued each of them. How had he remained in place? Why, of the four of them, was he not overtaken by the fear that surely gripped each of their hearts? The old man pointed to the object of his gaze. There, on the rocky shore, stood a little lighthouse, its flame still glaring against the morning sky. “From up here,” the old man whispered, “I could always see the Light.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Allison Egley 09/21/07
This was really good. I loved the contrast you painted between the old man and the rest of the crew.

When you say "If the ship has broken, he had no hope." "has broken" should be "broke." But that's the only thing I noticed.

Great job. I love how at the end he revealed the Light he saw. Great job.