Monday, July 6, 2015

July 6, 2015 - The Rogue Wave


Old Jack once told me about Abigail Dyer, who had lived along the ocean shore in a small fishing community the entire 15 years of her life.  This was back in the days when people generally stayed put and were born and died in the same place.  This was also back when villages were isolated and self-sufficient, and it wasn’t necessary to waste eight hours a day in school learning how to forget.

Elders were very important back then, as they are now, although people just don’t realize it nowadays.  Their knowledge of the environment kept the younger generations safe and thriving, and in turn, the younger generations would do the same when they themselves became elders.  It was no different in Abigail’s village, and if there was one thing the elders always warned about, it was having a healthy respect for the sea.  Her own grandmother would tell her every day on her way out to collect mussels or other goodies from the sea, “Beware the rogue wave, and never go to the ocean alone!”

"Beware the rogue wave!"

Abigail and her friends had all heard about the rogue wave until they were sick to death of it, and yet none of them had ever seen it.  “Beware the rogue wave!” they would hear from their grandmothers, and stories would then be told of people along the shore, peacefully fishing and gathering.  And suddenly out of nowhere, a huge wave would rise up and snatch them within a second, dragging them far out to sea within moments.  Those taken by the rogue wave were never seen again.  When Abigail was younger, these stories used to scare her, but now that she was a bit older, she began to wonder if they were just a way to keep the children focused on their chores and not swimming.  After all, there were plenty of times after chores when they were allowed to swim near the shore, and no one had ever been taken by a rogue wave in her memory.

And so it was one day that Abigail was heading out to the house of her friend, Sarah, to get her so they could gather mussels together, but as she approached the house, she heard some voices from out behind the shed.  Thinking that she would surprise Sarah and her brother, she crept up to listen in to the conversation.  What she heard, however, broke her heart.  It was Sarah’s voice, but she was carrying on very romantically with Nathaniel, the boy Abigail had her heart set on.  And Sarah knew that, and that’s what hurt so much.

Abigail left without ever letting them know she had been there, but her heart was truly broken--one cut for Sarah and the another cut for Nathaniel.  She headed out to the ocean to gather her mussels, as this was a good part of her family’s diet.  She knew she wasn’t supposed to go alone, but the thought of going with Sarah was simply unbearable.  Besides, she’d been collecting mussels for years, and never once did anything bad ever happen.  Today would be no different, she told herself, although she might cry a lot this time.

Abigail was a good and industrious girl, and she set to work right away gathering the mussels.  Now and then she found a good clam, too, and took that as well.  But her heart was not into the work.  It was into Sarah and Nathaniel.  It was into her broken dreams of marrying him.  It was into a hard lesson about trust and friendship and loyalty.  Her heart focused on anything but work, and at last she decided she just needed a break.

Now, her face was covered with sweat and tears from work and sorrow, and she began to long for a quick swim in the ocean.  She just wanted the water to wash away some of her sadness, some of her tears, and some of her sweat and dirt from work.  She knew she was not supposed to go into the ocean alone, but what could it hurt to just wander a bit on some of the rocky crags and let the ocean cool her feet?  She decided she would do just that and let the cool ocean wash away the fiery storm in her heart.

The rocks were slippery, as they always were, because of the algae and seaweed that covered everything.  She was used to this, though, and her feet were sure.  Very soon she found herself far out on a rocky expanse near the edge of the churning ocean.  The air was crisp and fresh, the wind was swift and cooling, and the sea spray was divinely cleansing.  She closed her eyes and felt relief for the first time that day.

She opened her eyes quickly, though, when she thought she heard a voice calling her name.  “Abigail . . .” it said in a smooth and deep tone, but when she looked around, she saw nothing and thought it must be a figment of her imagination borne of grief and exhaustion.

“Abigail . . .”  But no.  There it was again.  Someone was calling her name in a deep and luscious baritone voice.  Still, she saw no one.  She thought perhaps she should leave, but the delicious feeling of the salt water spray and the wind was so enticing that she couldn’t seem to move her feet.

“Abigail . . .” it said with such rich and deep splendor.
“Who’s there?” she asked.
“I’ve been watching you, Abigail.”
“Who are you?  Where are you?” she asked, looking around again but seeing nothing.
“Abigail . . . so beautiful,” it said, “so peaceful in the ocean.”
“Yes, it is peaceful,” she said, “and it’s the first peace I’ve had all day.”
“I know, Abigail.  I’ve been watching you.”

Somewhere in the back of her mind, Abigail knew that this should frighten her, but somehow it didn’t, not in the least.

“Then you know what happened today,” she said, “with Sarah and--“
“Stories . . .” the voice whispered as it cut her off.
“But my heart is broken.”
“Such sweetness in the heart that loves the ocean so much,” the voice said.
“It’s true, I do love the ocean.”
“Yes, Abigail . . . caresses from the ocean . . .”

She didn’t know how or why it should be so, but somehow that beautiful, rich, low voice was so soothing and so wonderful.  After a short while, Abigail began to feel much better and to forget all about Sarah and Nathaniel.  The crashing waves along the rocks seemed to wash all of the sorrow out of her heart, all of the sadness out of her mind.  There was just the ocean and the rhythm of the waves and the wind and the voice.

“Abigail . . . so sweet,” it said, and she blushed.
“I’m not so sweet,” she felt obligated to say for modesty’s sake.
“So beautiful . . .”
“I don’t even know you,” she mumbled but couldn’t care less about it.
“Ocean kisses . . . washing and churning . . . and sailing away . . .” the voice said.

The wind picked up dramatically and the sound of the waves was hypnotizing.

“Yes, I’d like to sail away,” she said, “For once, I’d just like to be completely free!”
“Abigail . . . embrace . . .”

Abigail closed her eyes and opened her arms as wide as she could.  Within an instant, a magnificent rogue wave rose high into the air and swept her into his arms in a passionate embrace.  She spun in circles, her hair flying wildly about, completely engulfed in the pull of her dark and unseen lover.  Then he swept her out to the cool and cleansing ocean, the waves of renewal and transformation, and there they swim together for eternity.
_____________________


When Old Jack finished the story, I was silent for a while.  The power, the fury, the utter destruction of the rogue wave is well known, but the love of the rogue wave is a secret.

“Do you think the rogue wave was evil?” I asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I mean, do you think it was cruel and horrible and a killer?”
“What a strange thing to ask,” he said.

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