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The Sound of Memory
By Haley Rasmussen
Genre: Non-fiction Level: High School 10-12
Category: UAA/ADN Creative Writing Contest

Saturated, bloated, my damp palms pressed in to the lining of the single pocket. My fingernails catch on the loose balls of black flint, and I roll the flint pieces between my pruney fingers. A light breeze pushes up the bay, dragging along rotten tendrils of seaweed and the smell of dead crustaceans. The breeze whispers through my wet hair, spawning shivers beneath watermarks on my shirt.

So beautiful. It is hard to imagine that Seattle is only an hour away by ferry. The slightest nudge and I could lose myself in the beauty. Rocking of the sea back and forth against the cradle of land. Tides ebbing in and out and laughter rising from inside the cabin behind me. I shake away those thoughts, and refocus my attention on motivating Miguel to come rowing.

"See Miguel you don't have to worry, we will be safe in the boat. Joseph the whale won't swallow you because he is out, deep under the sea," I tried coxing the six-year-old.

"Joseph the whale?" asked Miguel, as Duncan dropped four life vests onto the wet, wooden deck.

Duncan turns toward me, smiling mischievously. In on the ruse and he says unbelievably, "Whaaat, you have never heard of Joseph the Whale?"

Turning Miguel, I point down the bay to the Pacific and ask, "Have you ever wondered why the tide comes in and out?"

He nods his small head up and down.

"That is Joseph's doing. You see Joseph is this huge.."

"No massive" Duncan chimes.

I toss a small smile his way and continue, "..massive whale. He lies far, far, far down at the bottom of the ocean floor. Every few hours Joesph takes thiiis reaallly deeeeppp brreaattthh iiinnn," I suck inward gallons of air miming my hands to gather more, "and holds it for a minute, before letting it out."

Duncan released a flood of air. Inadvertently hunching his shoulders like an old man who is exhausted after hours bent over tilling a field.

"When Joseph takes those super, deep breaths, he sucks up water from all over the world creating a low tide. So when people say Joseph is out, they mean he is out of breath. Therefore he is too busy sucking up the ocean, causing the low tide, and trying to get his breath back to worry about our rowboat. We are not interesting enough to attract his attention, so he will leave us alone." I lean over closer to his ear and whisper, "Besides if you don't come out in the boat with us, how will you see the haunted sailboat?"

Miguel's brown eyes light up, but then quickly cloud over with question. "What kind of whale is Joseph?"

Forging my best thinking face, I dwell upon the issue for a moment, "I don't remember what kind of whale he is. What do you say Duncan, is he a Blue Whale or an Orca?"

Duncan replies in a mockingly serious tone, "He is most definitely a Killer Whale."

A smile breaks across my face. We both start bubbling with laughter.

"What's so funny?" questions Miguel, setting down the toy dumpster he had been holding.

Duncan turns to him clipping the blue life-vest, which he pulled from the pile on the deck, onto Miguel. Adjusting the yellow straps on Miguel's vest to fit him properly, he answers "Nothing, nothing. You'll understand later."

"You ready to go?" I ask, picking out a life-vest for Duncan and me. We won't wear them, but we throw them in the boat anyway.

"Yeah" replies Duncan as he jumps down to the boat launch where the concrete bumps against the fiberglass hull of the rowboat.

Miguel nods and follows, more cautiously, behind Duncan.

I bring up the tail of our party, excited to spend the day on the waves of the bay.

In remembering a day, a person should little consider the importance of every activity pursued, and focus on the enduring nature of the memories created.

Although Joseph the Whale may be a figment of our imaginations, he speaks one unalienable truth this day, and the people who experienced it with me, begged for the bewitching nature of life. All the actions of the moments, all the small nuances, called out life's vanquishing motto. Life is beautiful; it needs only to be seized.

 

THE END

 

 


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