Snowman on a Boat
by Dreaming Writes by Paul Balthamos
How long have we got? That same old question with the ever-varying answer which is never actually long enough, it burns away at us till we have spent all the time we had simply worrying and waiting.
What kind of world do we live in where we are forced to ask such ridiculous questions? Wishing time away is working faster than the clock but never fast enough. It’s always a race, because we’re all going to die.
Let us approach our current race at an angle before we delve in to the subject. Two boats, yachts, sailing from A to B. Parallel they race together, the same goal in their sights. On the deck of one is where I wait.
I gaze at the point where blue meets blue in the distance soaking in the sweet melodies from a flute blowing snowman, Harold. As if built by the tarnished mind of a disturbed child with one arm, he is ugly.
Across the water on the second boat another snowman bounces along the deck, with perfectly rounded balls of snow and equally perfect vegetables defining a cute face straight from a children’s picture book. A mesmerising laugh sounds from the boat, a young woman wearing a dress that makes the decade seem unclear. She spots me staring, at first I think she’s angry. But then she cheekily sticks out her tongue and smiles at me.
I quickly look away, not embarrassed but afraid. Afraid that from a glance she may know me in ways that only I do, in ways that I will allow only myself to. The snowman stops playing the flute and joins me at the side of the boat facing away from the woman.
His presence annoys me like my own. I presume it’s Harold who brings the grey clouds from past the horizon, till I turn around and see the second boat distance itself; it was their departure.
With the clouds comes the rain and with the rain comes that pathetic fallacy. Here we go.
Hours into the storm there’s no sign of it settling. Of course not, nothing has happened to bring the beast to an end. It knows my fear, water at all 360 degrees, and the nearest land close enough for an average swimmer, but not for me. For a while now I’ve been pulling on chords, moving the sail about in different directions whilst Harold waits to accept death, only now do I realise that it’s not helping the situation.
The man of snow asks how I plan to sail the ship without sailing the ship. Useless at a time of need I see. I ask the prick to pick up his flute again, I hate the sound of this weather destroying everything it can. He doesn’t argue.
In the distance I can see beyond the falling water to the island where the long-lost second boat is anchored. I wonder if they are watching, not that it matters. It’s hard enough to impress myself let alone others.
A crack deafens me slightly as lightning strikes the boat; another crack restores my hearing as a bolt strikes Harold. His face is the first to melt away as his arms burn with tall flames. He doesn’t scream, he is beyond help, fear and pain. I watch as he slowly shuffles to the edge of the boat where he falls out of sight. Thinking about what is lost will not protect me from the lightning or anything else.
I bring myself to the bridge where I awaken from my slumber and clamp my hands around the vessels wheel. From here I can have guidance upon the captains position, the position of a leader. I feel faint from exhaustion and stumble onto the wheel, but I laugh at myself as I rise back up. I spin the navigator till a crack brings the sail crashing to the water.
No time for planning now as I see a glimpse of light in the grey clouds above. A strong wave pounds the boat tipping me over the edge. My ankle becomes tangled in the wires leaving me dangling an inch above the water.
The taste of salt leaves me as the waves fall suddenly to a clear ripple lying flat all the way to an island in the distance, where if I squint I see the boat of the good snowman and the woman.
Within a blink the dangerous waves return, but the island remains. I pull myself up to the railings of the deck and throw myself over. I clamber my way to the front of the boat where through the rain I can see my destination. I should have seen long ago that my vehicle had failed me, this was never the way.
I didn’t think the cold could cause me any more agony until I began to undress. I climb over the railings, holding on tight to not fall in. The distance I must travel is too far. But perhaps, with the help of what has grown to be my worst enemy, my body shall.
I leap from the vessel to spare myself as many metres of the water as possible. I feel the continuous sharp pain of the cold against my cheek and the taste of blood. But I am breathing. Opening my eyes greets me with the sight of ice. The waves remain as high as they always had been but frozen solid. Water droplets fall around me like silver sand. I slowly rise, careful not to slip. The clouds have parted ways to an orange sky.
At the top of the nearest wave I can see the island, and clearly now the woman shielding her eyes from the sun as she watches me. I become aware that I am half-naked but before I can be embarrassed I see something else. The good snowman is hovering towards me.
I slide down the wave with thoughts of the sandy island on my mind. Ignoring the pain the ice causes my feet I let them bleed as I limp through the wave maze. Around half way and I see something that stops me in my tracks. I turn to see my old friend, the broken snowman lifeless beneath the ice staring up at me. Was it his sacrifice that turned the water to ice and saved my life?
The other snowman arrives; he looks at me and speaks words that I do not understand before melting to nothing in an instant.
I reach the Island and collapse onto the sand. The woman doesn’t come towards me, only watches with a smile. I struggle to my feet once more and enjoy the heat the sand provides my feet.
As our eyes become level I stare into beauty and see that I am alive.