Washed up on the island, he had scratched the passage of days into the trunk of a palm tree. Today, there were forty-two lines.
Some of the shipwreck had washed up too and he had used these items to survive. He had hoped someone else might turn up but nobody alive had. The five bodies, he had buried under a marked tree, for recovery later.
The sound of a helicopter broke the air. He grabbed binoculars, a flare gun and climbed into a tree. He searched the sky and when the chopper grew closer, he fired the red signal.
The waters of the Ganges lapped at the edge of Varanasi city’s western bank. Fires rose on the burnt ground, the flames reflected in the river like the rays of the setting sun. The smell of burnt flesh, cloth and wood chocked the air making the mixed spice fragrances of the markets seem lost in the past.
From the distant boat, I watch men bring my relative’s body down to wash in the river. I wasn’t allowed to go because it was believed women make the event more sorrowful but I had want to see this ancient tradition.
It was time. I walked across the beach, wet with seaweed as the tide was coming in. Bringing my dad’s ashes back here was fitting. We had loved this beach as a family and there was special rock we had all ways sat on.
It was there I dug a deep, deep hole and hide him under the sand. I could have just thrown the ashes into the sea but I couldn’t let go that easily. At least here, I knew where he was.
Patting the sand back into place, I let the tears fall.
Dustsceawung; contemplation of the dust. Reflection on former civilizations and peoples on the knowledge that all things will turn to dust.
I dreamed again last night. Everything was gone. Dust storms blew through empty buildings and burnt out cars. The wind howling like a dying animal, the sound amplified.
I walked, face wrapped in a scarf. There was a children’s playground. A skeleton against the wire fence. Didn’t like real. Reminded me of models in classrooms. The skeleton had yellowed bones. Fingers curled around holes in the wire fence. Empty eye sockets staring. Mouth open in scream.
Instantly, the skeleton crumpled. Dust at my feet which the wind blew away from me. Crying out, I ran away. Tripped and fell. Dust in my eyes, nose and mouth. Dust suffocating me! Wind deafening me. Gone. Gone. Gone.
We are all dust. We come from dust and we return to dust.
The cotton mills of Manchester, England, had once been a chaos of noise, sights and smells. The machines had roared, drowning everything else out and making the workers deaf. Dust and chemicals had rose thickly, settling into workers lungs and slowly suffocating them. Accidents and deaths were a daily occurrence. Thus, was the price the poor paid to try and survive.
Now, the great mills that had been the body of Manchester were silent. They stood rotting or demolished, an empty tomb in memory of those poor souls who had worked themselves to death.
The monastery remains were haunted. By day, it was a nice walk around the foundations in the middle of the park but come night a sinister feeling fell. Nothing living, not even teenagers, hung about the crumbling walls, they belonged to the dead.
I had seen the shadow monks whilst at the bus stop, waiting for the last bus of the night. I ignored them and they ignored me. The story was; if the ghost monks saw you, they would kidnap you. I didn’t believe but at night anything was possible.
I held the last photo of the ship, The Blue Royal, taken before it had sunk under stormy waves in my hands. You could barely make out the black shape of the ship against the grey sky and sea. The photo had been taken some distance away, on another ship, The Blue Princess, by a passenger wanting to capture the storm.
I knew the full history of both ships, not though interested but family history. My great aunt’s twin cousins, Lily and Rose, had been on board The Blue Royal on a cruise for their sixteenth birthday. The storm had hit the ship hard, capsized it and caused sixty-two people to drown. Twenty-eight bodies, including Lily and Rose’s were never found.
My great aunt had kept a keepsake box of them and now she’d gone, the box belonged to me. Inside were; letters, postcards, little china animals, a small china face doll, a bible and some small books. I felt a strange chill touching this stuff. I had never known these cousins.
Holding their items made me want to know more though. What had their lives and deaths been like?