The high tide of the Equinox by Brian Martin-Onraët

The Sea covered most of the black rocks in front of the house by the Sea. Far, far away, the grey waves merged with the leaden sky. The Land was bracing, waiting for the final assault. The trees moaned in the howling Wind. The rocks shook under the crashing waves.

The time had come. The Equinox had arrived. The highest tide of the year. When the Sea takes over the land; when ships wait, in the shelter of harbours; when trees shudder and animals hide; when fishermen go home without a word.

The Equinox had arrived.

The time had come, the time to fight.

The boy came out of the small house by the Sea. He walked on the terrace towards the water under the pouring rain. The sand on the small beach was long gone. Only a few rocks were still resisting the blows of the Sea. He’d never seen the tide so high. Dark clouds and lightning danced on the horizon. The Sea chose its allies well.

The waves roared. Breaking on the last visible rocks. The Sea knew. It knew everyone was trembling. The tide rose, nothing or no one to stop it.

The boy approached the Sea. Went down the three stairs that led to the last visible black rocks.

The time had come. The time to face the Sea. To face the Equinox.

The Sea looked at the child. So small. So fragile. Scared?

The Sea started the game, sending its strongest waves towards the child. Splashing at his feet. To scare him away, to break him. The Sea played its game… a game of death with the little boy.

The tide rose with every wave. Swallowing up the rocks. The boy wouldn’t move. He looked at the water, the high waves. Soon the boy found himself almost surrounded by the Sea. He jumped to another rock. How long had he been outside?

The Sea pushed the child from rock to rock, forcing him to retreat. Using its power, the fear it could feel in the child. The Sea could drag him down with a single wave. But no. Not yet. The Sea has all the time in the world. It has more power than Time, more than Earth. More power than a small child.

The Wind wavered, undecided. The child hoped the Wind would take his side. Would it blow from the land? And stop the Sea? Or from the horizon? The Wind hadn’t made up its mind. It blew from the Land, from the Sea, came back from the Land, turned around to knock down some trees, rip a roof off…

The boy was alone facing the Sea and Wind. He jumped to the last standing rock. Soaked from head to toe. The Sea salt stung his eyes. He could smell the Sea, a smell of triumph.

He couldn’t move back anymore without giving up. The rock he stood on was tiny. He looked behind. Between the terrace and the Sea, there was a small concrete jetty where boats moored in quieter times and a low wall to… “protect” the house, or so they said.

He turned to face the wide-open Sea. From grey, it’d turned to black. The boy’s heart gave a start. The Wind was blowing from the Sea. Wind and Sea had joined forces.

The time had come. The boy grabbed a rusty iron ring on the wall. Hooked his arm inside the ring. He faced the Sea.

Wind and Sea beat the child up. Waves, walls of water broke over him. The anger of the Sea was growing. The game was over. The Sea would take the child. Wave after wave, it crashed on the wall and the foolish child. The boy could hardly breathe anymore. The Wind bent palm trees near breaking point.

The tide rose and rose. Covering the child’s feet. His knees. The rocks could no longer be seen. The boy could feel the Sea dragging him away.

How long did it last? The fight between the Sea and the child? Nobody knows. The boy’s arm hung to the iron ring with all its might.

It was the Equinox. The High Tide. It was time.

The Wind gave up first. Abandoned the fight. Fleeing to the horizon. The waves were smaller now. The water stopped rising. The boy was still holding the ring. The waves turned away. The water began to descend, uncovering the knees, the feet.

The boy let go of the ring. Walked away from the wall. Back to the terrace above. The Equinox was over. The Sea was retreating. Defeated.

***

This is a work of fiction. The place, Sea, and jetty are not. The house we lived in on the coast of West Africa was real. It may even still exist. Twice a year, the Equinox would push the sea up. Up. Up. Only a few inches below the terrace that led to the jetty, the rocks and the sea. Sometimes the Equinox would combine with the rainy season. One could not tell sea from rain. Little Sister and I never thought of hooking ourselves to a ring and face the Sea. We could have. After all, what is Fiction? A reality that could have happened.

Note: I wrote the original story years ago. In Spanish. As many other stories. Being lazy, I couldn’t face the idea of translating myself. It would have been like re-writing the whole thing again. So I did an experiment. I used Word translator. Some will wring their hands. (My apologies to Bona Fide translators) The result is mixed. Text is reasonably well translated. But not with my words or my style. And obviously grammar is sketchy at times. I had to go over the English text three or four times and I’m still not entirely satisfied. But, Hell, you guys got the story, right? (Featured image in the “front page” by Pinterest. Photos below are mine, or my parents’ rather.) Strangely enough, the Equinox was a but a few days ago.

The jetty outside our house, and the sea at high tide, normal tide, outside the Equinox.

Our house, hidden behind the palm trees, seen from the jetty. Low tide.

African fishing boats, with their “Latin” (Arabic) sail. Low tide. We knew the tide schedule by heart then. The tides set up the day’s programme.

Little Sister, barefoot, during the High Tide of the Equinox. The Sea is only a few inches below the terrace.

Yours truly, age 8 or 9, after the High Tide of the Equinox… wondering about the next plan.

(Link blog Braian)

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3 comentarios sobre “The high tide of the Equinox by Brian Martin-Onraët

  1. Wonderfully written, Brian. It was an anxious read. Haha. The translation is quite good, but obviously the voice and personal style elements would be missing. Wonderful pictures. Hope to read more from you. Your stories are amazing. 🙂

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