Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Last Word

How could she have known that simply crossing the street would mean so much? Sirina used the edge of the sidewalk like a tightrope. Her heels hung down while her toes clung on. Through the window, all she could make out were rows of shelves like forgotten soldiers. Above the expanse of dull glass, red letters declared, ‘Closing Down’. A car spun past. Warm air stirred against her caramel thighs, Cuban-style. Instinctively, her arms turned into wings to stop her tipping over. It was time to move. Sirina placed one foot firmly in front of the other.

She pushed on the glass door. A feeble tinkle announced her entrance. Lines of shelves were as dark and empty as the interior. A young girl, out of her depth was mirrored in the shop window. Sirina stared at where she had come from. Turning her back on the sunshine she faced the gloom and ran her fingers along a shelf. It was cool and smooth. Nerve-endings flickered. An obstacle blocked her progress. With braille-like delicacy she felt around the edges. She looked down. It lay, like it had, from the beginning.

The girl lifted it up. The light from behind illuminated the script. Words hung like floating islands. Her finger traced each letter then came to rest on the colorful marlin. The book was compact with just enough substance to rest on a lap. Creamy pages fanned releasing a mustiness testifying to its endurance. A saffron sleeve covered the book like a robe and the swirls and strands of ‘Ernest Hemingway’ leapt alongside the marlin.

Without hesitation, the young girl slid the book under her blouse. It nestled beneath her heart. She turned towards the light. A final tinkle and her green eyes challenged the brightness. Cuban sunshine won and she squinted before once again crossing the street. Her ribs felt the sharpness. Each pierce reminded her. She had to deliver the book.

Sirina walked a
nd walked. She walked towards a small white building on a green mound surrounded by two shades of blue. Peppery heat made her lick her lips and she tasted the sea. It reminded her of the fish her father caught. Shining ovals laid flat against burning coals while pale yellow butter sizzled over silvery flesh. There was no smell of cooking and the door was closed. Sirina knew it wouldn’t be locked. All she had to do was turn the handle. A window allowed her to glimpse the other side.

Her father sat on a chair. Behind him was the turquoise sea. A man stood beside the chair. His dark suit was an offence to the sea and the sky and the sun. It absorbed all the colors of joy. The same way he absorbed every tree and every fish. The pain beneath her heart told her to be silent. It was as if her father placed his rough fingers to her lips. Silence called the fish.

Crouching down, she pulled out the book. For the first time the girl saw the back cover. Beneath golden shards of sunlight a fisherman sat in his tiny boat. The sea was calm and he waited. Sirina waited. Shadows fell. She listened to the whisper of the sea. Darkness came. The moon’s allure made the sea heave. The door opened and shut.

In the moonlight, her father still sat on the chair. The lines were free of dried fish. The pot was empty. She lowered herself to sit at her father’s feet and started to read, ‘He was an old man who fished alone…….’ She read and read guided by the moon and the stars. Her voice rose and fell with the swell of the sea. When she finished, Sirina put the last book in her father’s worn hands. He placed it on his lap.


David said...

Beautiful. Your writing reminds me a lot of Jose Saramango--just some guy who won the Nobel Nobel Prize in Literature.

Emma said...


I loved this when I first read it at the Collective Inkwell and it was lovely to come across it again. This writing is like the finest chocolate; sensuous, luxurious and demanding full attention.

Paisley said...

David - thank you for reading - much appreciated.

Paisley said...

Emma - you are so kind - I hadn't posted it fully so thought I would. Thanks again for reading.

vered said...

You write beautifully. Good luck with the assignment that has taken you away from this blog for the week.

Paisley said...

Vered - thanks for finding the time to read, I appreciate it.

teahouse said...

Very lovely writing!!

Paisley said...

Teahouse - thanks,I enjoyed writing it.