Cynthia the Sailor

Know then, oh mighty one, that once in the fabled land of Yoosa lived a woman named Cynthia who was unhappy. She lived in a washed-out world, devoid of light or life or color, and she toiled at her labors by day and night yet found no solace or joy in anything, not even in the many blessings of Allah which all men freely receive. On this day, she despaired. The sad woman stood staring at the sea before kicking off her joyless existence and running to her destiny.

She sold her every possession and invested the profits in a sturdy boat, the Chariot of the Wind, and outfitted it with the sundries and provisions necessary for a journey. Impatient to be at sea, she embarked and they sailed together for many days and many nights wherever the wind would take them.

One bright summer morning, she scented trees on the morning breeze. She spied an auk flying with a fish and turned Chariot to follow—for as all experienced sailors know, an auk carrying food will fly to shore. The prettiest isle spread out before their prow. A delicate stream snaked down to the shore, and sea birds of all kinds flew overhead. It looked to be in all ways a most satisfactory island, and Cynthia eagerly sought harhorage.

She first went for a swim in a pool formed by the stream. Fresh water is so rare at sea, having so much in one spot seems a luxurious decadence. Then she hunted and gathered fruits. In the afternoon, she fished and gathered the clams, crabs, and other such bounties as Allah provides for all men blessed to live by the shore.

When she was confident that Chariot’s larder was sufficiently re-stocked, she built a fire and relaxed against a palm tree, watching the golden-purple colors of the sun setting.

Then the ground shook suddenly, causing thousands of sea birds to take flight. The ocean rolled out, away from the island, and then rushed in again with horrific force, far higher than the original shoreline. Cynthia tried to make a run for Chariot but an enormous wave of water cut her off.

She spied one gargantuan, scaled flipper rising out of the sea, and wave after wave crashed over the island. Just as she began to swim in the tide, the island and her beautiful boat vanished beneath the waves.

The enormous sea turtle on whose back the forests, sands, birds, rocks, and streams all rested vanished into the abysses of the deep. Cynthia was left spinning, coughing, and choking in a massive tidal vortex of seawater. Spying some flotsam in the water, she stroked strongly for it, swimming for her life.

Allah preserved her by providing a great wooden mast to which she clung, and in the morning, her friend the auk once again pointed the way to the nearest safe shore. By mighty Allah’s grace and mercy thus ended the first voyage of Cynthia the Sailor.

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498 words. Inspired by this week’s Finish That Thought prompt (I missed the deadline though. Oh well, I’ll get into next week’s, or the next…whatever.)

And yes, I borrowed rather heavily from Richard Francis Burton. All the Special Challenge’s fault (“Include a deadly creature of the deep that DOESN’T arrive to the sound of ta-dump, ta-dump, tadumptadumptadump. :-)”–somehow I just had to do a Aspidochelone tale for that).