After Orcas

It’s not the place. 

She kept telling herself this, but it wasn’t helping.

She swallowed, the acrid taste of bile in her throat.

It was cold on deck, the wind’s icy fingers prying open the buttons of her coat.

She gripped the steel rail as she watched the bow cleave the black water.

The motors’ throb grew louder as the ferry cleared the point and steered into the bay, the deck rising and falling against the chop.

Turning, she watched the dark island recede into the night sky, the white churn of foaming wake.

It’s not the place, she chanted.


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  1. Varad

    There is a sense of claustrophobia felt by her even in the wide expanse. That gets emphasized by the first and last lines being the same. Perfectly written, J Hardy.

  2. pennygadd51

    I had to do a little googling to find Orcas Island. I guess she was suffering flashback from a traumatic event that had taken place at Orcas – even though where she is now, on the ferry, isn’t Orcas Island. You’ve produced some wonderful descriptive writing. I, too, liked the ‘icy fingers’. ‘The deck rising and falling against the chop’ sounds authentic, as though written by someone familiar with the sensation.
    Nice work!

    • J Hardy Carroll

      I picked Orcas because it could be the place, or something else entirely. I was ambiguous about what had happened to her, and whether she she was coming or going. Thanks for reading!

  3. Joy Pixley

    Strong sense of dread, which come through even when I have no idea what she’s upset about. I wish I had more of a clue about how to interpret the repeated first and last line, even if you kept the full meaning hidden. Does she mean this isn’t the place where the scary thing happened (or will), despite looking similar? Or that it’s not the place that’s the problem but something else (that’s not there)?

    • J Hardy Carroll

      Thanks for reading this. I left it deliberately ambiguous. It’s not even clear whether she’s coming or going. Whenever I can’t figure out a story, I will write a moment and leave it totally up in the air. Which is often ;-)

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