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'Fishermen' copyright Damir Davarovic at Deviant Art
There were seven of them, all kin. Fishing was the only occupation they had ever known. They didn’t question their destiny but accepted it as they had done for generations, just like the other families in the village. Today, as every day, they set off at dawn in their small skiffs, rowing out to sea. They had no need of conversation, each man knowing the rhythm of his fellows, the creak of the oars in the rowlocks a counterpoint to the screaming of the gulls.
They set their seine nets, those nets so frequently and carefully repaired, so valuable. In the distance they saw other fishermen bent to the same task. They lived on the sea most of their days and their families lived off the proceeds of their catch. They feared and respected the deep and held faith with each other in the protection of the Holy Mother and Saint Michael. When the day’s haul was light they invoked Saint Andrew and believed that the next day would be better.
It was a simple life but hard and unpredictable. The weather could be changeable, blue skies clouding over and winds springing up out of nowhere. Then the sea was capricious, testing their skills as seafarers, challenging their beliefs, shrieking and screeching so that they began to lose their senses, only instinct telling them that they must turn back to shore. If fog came down, dense, all-encompassing, the fishermen lost their bearings but could drift until it lifted, listening all the while for other craft or for sounds from the land. Their greatest fear, though, was that fog and gale should join forces.
And so it happened that day. Disorientated, blown ever closer to shore, exhausted from rowing, they howled imprecations against the elements. Brother clung to brother, father to son, in desolation and despair. The ropes they had slung between the boats to keep the little fleet together stretched and strained and finally snapped. In each skiff the men pulled again on their oars, heaving in sobbing breaths, not knowing where they were going and praying that heading to wind would keep them safe.
As suddenly as it had descended, the fog rolled away, revealing heavy clouds scudding across grey skies. Momentary relief evaporated as the wind strengthened and the swell increased in height and towered over the tiny craft. As each wave broke over and away the men caught glimpses of the shore. It was not a sight to gladden their hearts. Sharp rocks jutted menacingly from the churning waters. The tide had turned and united with the wind to drive them nearer the wicked pointed teeth. They had no more strength to battle the currents and the storm but slumped over their oars, weeping with exhaustion, sick with the understanding that their wives that night would be widows, their children fatherless.
And so it was.