Tall Tales

Vera sat on the balcony overlooking the rocky crag. The beach below was not for picnicking; waves pounded the jagged rocks at all times. It was a harsh beach, and many a vessel had seen its dreams dashed upon those unforgiving boulders. Yet, the sunsets were a thing of wonder as the bursting rays set the water afire and the thunderous waves rattled upon the rocks. Here, the sea never sparkled in stillness; it always raged, begrudging those who dared to sail upon its back. This ocean was mean, and sprinkled with cock-and-bull stories of shipwrecks, curses and sunken treasures. Legends Vera gave no credence to, though she’d spent little time here over the years. 

Night fell and Vera remained on the balcony with a warm shawl wrapped around her shoulders. Stars winked in the sky and the moon shone in full splendor over the roaring waves. The wind howled, and she thought she caught the distant call of a human voice.


Vera sprang up from her chair, her eyes straining to pierce the waves.

The wind whipped her hair about her face, and she tried to hold it in a ponytail.

“Ahoy!” Loud and clear the call. 

What on earth…?

There, in the moonlight, she spied a sailing ship. A tall ship? A galleon, perhaps? She knew nothing about ships, but this one looked like the ones in pirate films. 

Vera clasped her unruly hair with a hair clip.

“Ahoy!” She called, feeling ridiculous.

A faint light blinked from the ship as it approached. Vera, fearing it would strike a rock, flicked the balcony light on and off in quick succession, signaling danger and hoping the ship would see it.

But the worst came to pass and Vera, helpless and aghast, watched as the ship floundered on the rocks, capsized and vanished into the ocean depths.

“Grandpa! Shipwreck!” She yelled, bursting into the house.

Grandpa looked up from his easy chair by the fire and placed a finger on the page he’d been reading. The room, warm and cozy, surrounded him with valuable stuff; antiques, artifacts, knick-knacks, books, books and more books. Vera’s favorite antique was the astrolabe displayed on the mantelpiece. She also loved the ancient and faded charts framed and hanging on the walls, some water-damaged beyond repair, but still beautiful. 

“Ships don’t come this way, Vera. This hasn’t been a route for, oh, four hundred years.”

“I saw it, a great big sailing ship, like a pirate ship.”

“Did it capsize, then disappear?”

Vera nodded, perplexed by Grandpa’s tranquility.

“Yes, I’ve seen it too, every so often. Legend tells it was the last merchant ship to pass this way.  Did it call out?”

Vera nodded. 

“It’s good luck if you hear the call, did you answer?”

“I tried, I called out and flicked the balcony lights. I tried to warn it.”

“Good, it blesses those who respond,” he gave a loving glance around the room, “tomorrow, at the beach, we’ll collect whatever the sea has bequeathed us this time.”


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