A Dismal Sheen

He led me blindfolded onto the quay. “I know you bought a boat, Seth.”

“Humor me,” he said. We walked across the dock, the boards tilting and bouncing. “Ok. You can take it off now.”

He stood on the bow of a gleaming sailboat, grinning all over his face like the boy I’d married. “Ta-da!”

He gave me a tour of the cabin, showed me the charts of the trip he’d planned for us.

“But you don’t know the first thing about sailing,” I said.

“I’ve been taking lessons. We’ll be fine.” He put on a skipper’s cap. “Dashing, no?”


Friday Fictioneers


With sloping masts and dipping prow, 
As who pursued with yell and blow 
Still treads the shadow of his foe, 
And forward bends his head, 
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast, 
And southward aye we fled. 
And now there came both mist and snow, 
And it grew wondrous cold: 
And ice, mast-high, came floating by, 
As green as emerald. 
And through the drifts the snowy clifts 
Did send a dismal sheen: 
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken— 
The ice was all between.

-From Coldridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner


Add Yours
  1. Dale

    I was thinking, why dismal? A dream coming true… of course, maybe they should take along a REAL skipper… just to be safe!

  2. jillyfunnell

    I absolutely totally agree with Iain but Seth’s husband does sound like a lot of fun and he’s not bad at forward planning and organising a spectacular surprise.

  3. 4963andypop

    The many men, so beautiful!
    And they all dead did lie:
    And a thousand thousand slimy things
    Lived on; and so did I.

    Thanks for the impetus to re-read a great poem!

  4. pennygadd51

    Very cleverly written, Josh. His wife’s reaction tells us very subtly that Seth is apt to be over-confident in his own abilities – there is a real sense of “Oh, no!” from her. And the title confirms our worst fears…

  5. subroto

    Interesting that he took that major decision all by himself. Not sure if it is going to be all smooth sailing, will her refusal make him a ‘a sadder and a wiser man’?

  6. tedstrutz

    Boy, this story could go two ways. I liked the voice of the narrator. Everyone who tells a sailboat story, I’m telling them that the real life woman who the movie Adrift told the story of lives here in Friday Harbor. She still sails.

  7. Jan Morrill

    As someone who loves to sail but has little experience, and married to someone who knows nothing of sailing, this is a fantasy of mine. But it’s that last line that keeps it all too real. Enjoyed your story!

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