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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In and Out (04/30/09)

TITLE: The Billfish
By Loren T. Lowery


Before dawn, in the small village of Lorcado off the Mosquito Coast, Tobias broke from the lantern-lit funeral procession for his father and ran to the harbor. Feet pounding on the ancient wooden pier, family voices crying out behind him, “No, Tobias, no,” he jumped into his small skiff and rowed out to sea.

Miles from the village, he lay down the oars to his boat and looked outward. The boat gently rocked in the lapping water as he turned his body westward so that the rising sun was behind him to cast light upon the dawning world. He watched, he waited in the solitude and ambient sounds of the sea.

Here there was the lulling call of gulls and the arching hiss of flying sea swallows that broke the stillness of the ocean’s morning air; but nothing more.

From an early age, his father had taught him to read the signs of the gulf sea to find its valleys of peace. Sights and sound twisting together, threading in and out of the most common of days to become tapestry to reveal its healing hideaways.

“And if you truly follow,” his father had said. “God will grace you to see the billfish, and it dance of dignity in the air. Watch and learn as I have learned.”

Now, as he rowed from the harbor, he cried out, “Show me.”

His muscles soon ached from his movements and he let the currents bear part of the burden of his work. Moving westward, he watched the moon drop behind the horizon and allowed the smell of land to disappear.

Floating his skiff atop deep wells, he soon spotted ghostly schools of bonita and albacore in the purple fathoms below. He gave ear to winging terns whose tentative cries and delicate bodies belied an inner tenacity that escaped understanding.

Sights and sounds, threads weaving in and out as a needle upon the hem of a canvas sail carried him forward to a fortress for his thoughts and very soul that could only be found in the vastness of the sea.

Tobias was not naďve to the cruelties of the sea and those who made their livelihood from her bosom. He had been on marlin catches with his father to watch helplessly the beast’s mighty struggle to live.

At night, troubling dreams would wake him. Dreams of the harpoon finding its way into the marlin’s heart and dark blood spreading like a cloud through the surface of the blue water.

A red cloud, blackening what had once been the fish’s home – liquid red ashes falling, to shunt out light itself. Haunting dreams of the death of a defiant spirit defeated by cunning and violence.

“I could never kill such a great fish,” he had told his father.

And his father, placing a hand upon his shoulder, said nothing.

And now alone in the skiff, his father dead, Tobias stood and shouted once again into the vacant air, “Show me!”

Suddenly, a spear-like snout shot out from the depths of the ocean. Pointed and black, it glistened as ebony in the dawn’s light; and its upward thrust was as if borne as a trident wielded by an angered Poseidon.

Pectorals wide spread, a marlin exploded out of the waters, its dorsal fins pale lavender and its body polished silver with striped violet-blue bars. Its eyes were black and washed with the coppery reflection of the rising sun.

Rising above the sea, sixteen feet form bill to tail, weighing at least a thousand pounds; it bucked in the salty air; water flowing from its fins as a royal robe of crystal sequins.

It hung in the air, linking sky and ocean together in its soliloquized dance; and as suddenly as it had appeared; it plunged back into the dark depths of the sea.

Tobias stood there breathless, watching and praying that it breach the water once more. But it did not surface again.

A hundred yards off starboard, porpoise jumped from the water as if to play tag with some darting terns. But for the cry of looming gulls and the hiss of the wind in the valley of the waves, it was quiet.

The absence of the marlin on the horizon was startling. Its dance but a memory validating an inner truth and in a moment Tobias knew what his father had learned and why he had said nothing when his son had told him that he could never kill the great billfish.

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This article has been read 882 times
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Sara Harricharan 05/07/09
Breathtaking descriptions! Simply lovely! I just immersed myself into this strange, beautiful world only to find that it was on earth and so very real. Wonderful! Felt like a dream, reading this.
Mona Purvis05/09/09
Wonderful!! If I could only write with such power! I was reading through the entries looking for one to "make my day", I was not too impressed until I read this.
Just awesome.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/09/09
Every now and then I read an entry that is so powerful, it makes me want to put my own pen away. This is one of those.
Betty Castleberry05/10/09
Excellent imagery. Lovely writing.
Myrna Noyes05/10/09
Lovely, almost haunting story with its artistically written descriptions that placed me on the sea with Tobias! Very masterful writing! :)
Eliza Evans 05/11/09
My goodness--this is magnificent. From beginning to end, a spectacular piece of writing.
I had to borrow from Lisa-- I'm speechless. Bravo!!
Sharon Kane05/12/09
Magnificent writing. Absolutely breathtaking.
Lollie Hofer05/12/09
Eloquent! This is what they mean by "poetry in motion." Your prose flowed beautifully. It had a rhythm and melody to it that was lovely to read. I especially liked your description of the billfish rising from the water. Thank you for sharing. (You consistently do a remarkable job when it comes to mastering imagery and descriptions. HOW do you do it? Care to share this with us in lesson form perhaps?)
Bryan Ridenour05/12/09
Masterfully and beautifully done...The imagery was incredible!
Chely Roach05/12/09
Amazing. Just simply amazing. I am blown away. Gorgeous writing.
Patricia Herchenroether05/12/09
I had to read this over and over-I couldn't leave!
Janice Fitzpatrick05/13/09
Such beauty poured out through your words, oh my goodness. Like a brush and tubes of oil paints each sentence filled the canvas of our minds with a mixture of color and emotion. It eloquently splashed us with the mystery of the sea and the majestic creations that dwelled beneath.
I felt as if I was riding in the boat with the boy, feeling his pain, and taking in the environment around. Wonderful lesson. I am sitting in awe marveling at our Creator's beauty and the gifts he gives us to glorfiy his name. Simply breath taking!! Praise God!
Sheri Gordon05/13/09
Wow. Your descriptions are incredible. Beautiful writing. Excellent.
Sonya Leigh05/13/09
This is a masterpiece.
Rachel Rudd 05/13/09
Simply and eloquently beautiful! So VERY very well-written!
Lyn Churchyard05/13/09
Well written story filled with marvelous descriptions. Your MC's memories and emotions beautifully portrayed. Only one tiny typo - Rising above the sea, sixteen feet form bill to tail. I think this should have been "from" and not "form". I'd love to read more of this story, it has potential for a much longer tale.
Joshua Janoski05/14/09
Wow. I really can't comment, because I was left speechless. Wow!
Dee Yoder 05/14/09
Beautifully descriptive! I was in the boat and watching for the great fish myself.