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The Storm

by EvilDerry 

Posted: 11 June 2003
Word Count: 1218

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Sarah stood on the shore’s edge looking out to sea. Dark, angry clouds broiled low over the horizon, threatening to consume the last streaks of orange as twilight gradually approached. A warm, soft breeze played at her hair and dried the moistness from her cheeks, refreshing her somewhat. She tucked her hands into the pockets of her jeans and sighed gently, letting the moment of pure calm wash over her like the waves that lapped at her feet. Sarah loved this place: its smells, its sounds, and the ever-changing landscape. It was a refuge she came to when the world disappointed her, and now she turned to this peaceful haven again. It was restorative after Michael had taken so much away. So much, it seemed. Had she not stood on this spot just three months ago, the churning of angry surf dispersing her own turbulent feelings? Sarah did not like to think about that. It was cancerous. This idyllic retreat was no place to have such bad thoughts and she chastised herself for entertaining them.

She turned her attention to a lone seagull gliding high on the warm currents of air that precluded the storm. Wings outstretched, it hung effortlessly, shrilling in defiance at the approaching clouds. Sarah wondered what it would be like to have that total freedom, to be beholden to nothing and no one. Many a time she wished she could just get up and leave – to fly away like a fledgling. What that must feel like. A rebirth. To have the chance to start over again and do things differently, without … but there were those dangerous thoughts again, intruding upon the calm whenever her guard weakened. Just lately they seemed so potent, though. So provocative.

More determinedly, Sarah shrugged away the unwelcome thoughts and focused on the seagull. It dipped a wing and dropped to within four feet of the gentle waves, shrieking all the while. It appeared to be watching something on the water’s surface – a distressed fish or perhaps nothing more than a flash of silver, for the next moment it was swooping up into the sky, wings working with unfaltering beats. Behind Sarah feet crunched on the dry shingle but she ignored the sound, eyes still fixed on the seagull; now further away, flying off into the distance without a preordained destination. Sarah felt envious of the gull’s departure, envious and a little sad. It was leaving her for the unknown, a blank page that would be written as it went. If only she could float up, to ascend over the sea and have the whole sky as her playground, free of the emotional bonds that secured her to the ground. How would that feel?

If only she could follow the gull.

‘It’s beautiful, isn’t it?’

Sarah turned and smiled weakly at the man. ‘Yes. I think so.’ She sniffled and looked back over the sea, indifferent to any conversation. The bird was out of sight now, and she dropped her shoulders with regret.

He stepped alongside her to share the view. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a calm sea before. It looks like glass.’

Sarah searched the sky for the gull. Distractedly, she said, ‘the calm before the storm.’

The man fidgeted and ground his feet into the shingle. ‘I don’t like this time. It’s too oppressive. I get that headache and it makes me irritable.’

‘I love this moment. It’s so quiet, so peaceful,’ she said almost in a whisper. ‘There’s going to be a perfect storm - you can feel it coming, smell the electricity in the air. Everything has stopped, waiting for it to pass.’

He chuckled at her words. ‘I think you’re romanticising a bit.’

Sarah looked at him sharply. ‘No. Can’t you feel it? Everything is so still you can hear your own heartbeat.’

‘All I hear is the sea.’ He raised his arm around Sarah’s shoulder. ‘Perhaps your heart beats louder for me.’

She deliberately moved a step forward and his arm fell away. ‘I’m not kidding,’ she said firmly. ‘It’s a good time to do some thinking, to find yourself in it.’

He took a submissive step back and raised his face to the clouds. ‘But I’m not lost, Sarah.’ There was a slight tremor to his voice.

She took a deep breath and gazed across the horizon, still looking for the seagull. The sky was darkening rapidly now, and she guessed that with the approaching storm it was the last she would see of the bird. She momentarily felt a pang of inexplicable loss at that, and again she yearned for the freedom to have followed it.

‘I know you’re not,’ she said softly. ‘But I am. I was.’

‘What does that mean?’

Sarah dropped her gaze, for once not needing to find the answers in the vastness of the sea. ‘It means I’m tired, Michael. I’m tired of all this.’

‘All what?’

She turned to him and regretted it instantly. He stood facing her, the weariness of the last few hours visibly apparent in his stance. Dark lines etched his pale face, making him look years older. Sarah gasped, as much at his appearance as at the single rose that he held out to her.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said.

Sarah turned away. She had to be strong now, and she could not be that if she was looking at him. ‘It’s not working. I’m sorry but it’s not working, Michael. We’ve tried but…’

‘I’m sorry.’

‘I know you are darling,’ Sarah choked, ‘but that’s not good enough anymore.’

A rumble of thunder sounded in the distance. They both listened in silence, lost in their own thoughts.

‘It was just an argument, Sarah. We’ve had them before,’ Michael said eventually.

She turned her back to him, seeking comfort in the darkening clouds. ‘It’s not the arguments, Michael; it’s what they’re about. You know that as well as I do.’

He took a step towards her. ‘So what? That’s it. You want to end it here? Don’t do this, Sarah. We can work it out.’

She was shaking her head - shaking out the seeds of doubt he always managed to plant. The first fat drops of rain hit the water and cooled her stinging face. ‘Not anymore. Let’s face it; we can’t work it out anymore. It’s not fair on either of us.’


‘No Michael.’

A clap of thunder boomed above their heads, and the rain fell heavier.

‘Come inside, Sarah. We’ll talk about this.’ Michael’s voice sounded further away, as though he was receding into the distance.

‘There’s nothing to say. We did all our talking this morning,’ she cried after him.

‘Come inside, you’re getting soaked.’

Just then a scream came behind her left shoulder. She looked around, desperately trying to locate the source of the cry. The seagull swooped from out of the bleakness and cut across the front of her, shrieking angrily out to the storm, or perhaps, Sarah thought, calling for her. Then it disappeared into the gloom, its cry consumed by the downpour.

Despite the raging storm and torrential rain, Sarah lifted her head and laughed up to the swirling clouds.

‘I’m leaving, Michael,’ she shouted at the top of her voice, ‘I’m going to be free as a bird.’

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Comments by other Members

bluesky3d at 21:27 on 11 June 2003  Report this post
In a way I was surprised to see that this was written by a guy! I didn't look till the end. That is no criticism, but is meant as praise. I think you really get inside the mind of Sarah, however as I am a guy too, maybe any thoughts of agreement or thoughts to the contrary, should be seconded by a female of the species :o)

Just wanted to say that both the impending threatening storm, and the freedom of the seagull work well as metaphors in reflecting the situation, and her emotions.

If I had any criticism at all, from my point of view, I felt that what was going through her head as she compared her life to the freedom of the seagull may have been slightly overstated. It was as though Sarah was doing all the work for the reader and that the reader might have enjoyed making the parallels themselves. If the seagull's activity was described, with Sarah's thoughts less overtly decribed, then this may have allowed the reader to draw the parallels themselves... but it is a subtle balance and others may disagree. Great stuff though!

Andrew :o)

Ellenna at 08:07 on 12 June 2003  Report this post

I thought this was a wonderful piece. I could identify very strongly and I feel you have captured that desperate moment when you know you have to shake off a part of your life. Well done !

Ellenna :)

llydstp at 11:12 on 12 June 2003  Report this post
Welcome to WriteWords.
I really liked the quality of your writing - especialy the atmosphere you created with your words. There was a real sense of being there, and you turned an ordinary situation - which must happen millions of times a day throughout the world, into something special, simply by your choice of location, and your ability to to convey the mood of the place and the two people to the reader.
I especially liked the piece about her going to that place when the world disappointed her. I thought that was an excellent choice of words.
Best wishes

noddy at 11:33 on 12 June 2003  Report this post
Super atmosphere and super writing. Look forward to reading more.

stephanieE at 11:20 on 13 June 2003  Report this post
I like the sense of place that this evokes - a deserted beach with a pending storm, reminds me of many holidays spent in the far north of Scotland.

I think Andrew has a point about not being too overt in Sarah's empathy with the gull - it can be implied much more subtly but just as strongly, particularly given your ability with language. I really liked the idea of Sarah shaking out the seeds of doubt he always seemed to plant, for example.

One thing jarred a little for me - I don't think she would address him as 'darling' at this point in their relationship. If it's arrived at the point where she's contemplating escape, I doubt she sees him as a darling anymore... Other than that, I think you've captured the female voice rather successfully.

Good luck with this and future writing.

old friend at 15:41 on 12 September 2003  Report this post

For me this started out well, although I think that if you look at the sentences in the first paragraph you may feel that one or the other could be a stronger startpoint. They can be shifted around.

My initial interest was not sustained for I was struck by the over-dramatic images produced by the words; great for Romantic Fiction I guess.

There is a quality in your writing that one does not often find. This is the ability to quickly create 'mood'.

This may sound stupid but have a go at sci-fi or Fantasy writing; I think you could write something quite outstanding.

old friend, Len

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