He kicked the stand up and took off furiously pedalling forwards through the pouring rain. Cool drops fell against his face: the breeze blew the opposite direction in which he was travelling. Erhart squinted his eyes against the hard sheets of rain as he whirred down the lane and overhead there echoed a deep “boom.” The dark sky was streaked with white and blue. Either side hedges passed by. His story was complete, and soon the day would be, too. He was ready to let go of it. Let go of all of it. Too long had he been clutching these memories to his heart.
‘The truth is that I could not stop even if I wanted to,’ Erhart thought as he leant into the post office parking lot.
The door of the post-office swung shut emitting a high-pitched ‘e-e-e-e.’ Erhart clutched the manuscript to his damp chest as he looked around the small blue room, feeling rather weak.
Erhart smiled and nodded and said all of the right things. His mind was truly elsewhere. For as the lady slid the envelope out of his hands he had an impulse to grasp it. For a moment he could not let it go.
Erhart stared at a mail slot above the lady’s blue uniformed shoulder as he realised that he had sent the story. Shifted them to the lady’s slightly concerned smiling face.
“Is there anything else that I can help you with?” she seemed to gurgle.
“No, thanks,” Erhart grunted and abruptly turned to leave.
He let out a deep sigh, his voice breaking at the end. He clutched the handle-bars of his bicycle, staring ahead at the sky which had slightly lightened, but seemed a more thick grey. ‘I wonder why I feel that there is something missing?’ he dismally thought as he watched a cluster of birds ascend from the pavement into the air. They flew over the post office in a whirling cluster until they were out of sight.
Pedalling was such an effort and his legs felt so stiff that he slid off of the seat and walked the bicycle the rest of the way. He did not attend to where the lilting music of the birds came from. As “twe-twoo” cried out around him, he did not notice if the rain fell more gently. Only a road seemed to be laid out before him, and he would follow it until it ended.
The bicycle fell over before him with a clatter, the front wheel spinning.
Erhart gazed at the darkness turning gradually and certainly above the ocean. His hair blew behind him as he inhaled the salty storm air.
He had always had a strange empathy with the sea; and now, overwhelmingly, it called him. Erhart abruptly snorted—almost laughed a mad man’s laugh. He understood that he must move, and nothing more. His legs were forced to bend and he stepped forward.
A row-boat was abandoned in the middle of the beach. He walked straight to it, and pushed with all of his will. Leaping into the boat, Erhart’s eyes widened at the sight of the large and darkly looming distant waves. They seemed to call to him. Their terrible hurtling shapes fell, and compelled him to once think the thought ‘I am losing it all,’ and then think no more. He felt the sinking deep inside and shut his eyes.
The storm gripped him by the heart; he moved the boat through the water, terrified and shaking. The message rode on the wind—the harsh breathings of the roiling storm wretchedly called him.
“Erhart,” it rumbled. Rain fell over his face, drenching him so that he clutched himself in desperation.
A wave pushed the boat up with the force of a train. He screamed as he gripped the sides of the sliding boat, feeling himself sliding out. His hands lost grip and his feet fell against the front edge as he was tipped.
One wave after the other, he was roughly thrust up and let down. His open mouth stung with the taste of salt; his voice was hoarse from screaming. He lay limply in the bottom of the boat and exhaustedly braced himself against the sides with his hands. The dark blue of the ocean blurred and his eyes became hot and he gasped a short heavy sob.
Without fear he considered what he had done.
He was in deep trouble. He was lost at sea.
The water slurped at the edges of the boat and he was slid down the next hill of water.
A black wall rose.
Erhart’s heart sank.
And desolately he watched his doom rush across the distance.
When it came too close, he shut his eyes and curled, his entire body stiffening. The water gently lifted him. Erhart willed his spirit to leave his body behind, now.
His eyelids parted and he saw that the black was feet away. Erhart screamed.
The scream cut through the white noise of the roaring waves. ‘No one could save me now,’ Erhart thought despairingly. He was a lone tree falling in a forest—a single bird dying in a bush: no one could perceive his suffering. Powerless, helpless—Erhart never before ached with such longing for safety.
Trouble stirring inside, his face heated and tears leaking between his closed eyelids, his shaking hands folded over his rapidly beating heart. He sighed, exhaling his last short warm breath of air as the darkness enclosed, covered his eyes. The darkness was soft, warm, and gently stroking his forehead.
A flash of light. Erhart’s eyes slowly opened to stare into a pair of glinting dark blue ones.
“You are here,” he said so softly that his words were inaudible.
The woman, perching on the end of the boat understood, nodded and the soft yellow light flashed across her delighted familiar face. “I am here.”
Black revolved around their circle of light in the eye of the storm.
“Tesauro,” Erhart choked.
“I am,” I whispered, and reached my hand to touch Erhart’s face. I made my voice soft and words flowed out of myself: “Listen, now.” After all of this time of silence, I looked into the depth of his eyes, and the tears made little lights flash. He saw me as if he were seeing for the first time—heard me as if he had never heard before. I told him the message that I had been calling for the longest time of goodbyes and torture: “You are lost in your time. You are lost at sea. You need to wake up. You need to come home.”
“Do not leave me,” he attempted to say, but sobbed instead as he shakily reached.
I climbed into the boat and wrapped my arms around him. “I will never leave you,” I said. The belief caused my words to be strong and real. My tears dripped on his face.
“Even after what I have done?” Erhart breathed between his teeth.
I tilted his head up and he squinted as he looked at bright shining sky and ocean blue and knowing smile. He felt cold fingers on his cheek and realised that his face was wet with water and hot with crying. “Please believe in yourself,” I whispered. Erhart saw the tears which I had brushed away glistening on the tips of my fingers. Erhart’s dark eyes widened as he looked into mine. He saw everything as he perceived it, reflected back at him. He saw the world. He saw a lifetime of damage. But a lifetime of recovery and growing stronger than he ever was before. My hands closed around his. “Erhart, your heart is strong,” I reminded him. “I have always been alive inside. You have always held onto me. Thank you for letting me stay. Thank you for finding me again.”
A small smile twitched up the corners of his mouth. Eyes fluttered closed. I took up the paddles and summoned a surge of water to take us back to shore. The sun set the sky blazing with orange fiery light. Above stars began to shine in the deep blue basin of sky. I watched Erhart in his exhausted slumber. I listened to his thoughts as he slept. He felt safe.
We drifted to shore at midnight. I pulled the boat far up the beach in the moonlight, and paused, to see and listen.