The Boatman

The boatman waits patiently where the sand meets the sea. A wicker hat is all that stands between him and the blinding light of the sun, but that’s all he needs.

Half asleep, the boatman rocks and sways along in his little rowboat. The boat’s unmoored, but it never strays far from shore without the stroke of an oar.

He passes the time by humming low and slow, some forgotten folk songs from long ago. He hums to keep out unwanted memories, as well as to ward off the distractions of daydreams. He is here now, in the here and now, and that is enough.

Some days, he sits on the shore alone, all day, seeing nothing but the occasional hermit crab and the more-than-occasional gull.

He was sure today was going to be another one of those days. Didn’t know why, it just felt that way. But then again, to him, being sure about things that would never come to pass was as familiar as an old hat.

A good bit of time washes away the heat of the day, as plenty of sand falls through the hourglass. But then just as the blues melt away and dusk sets the sky ablaze, the boatman spots an old woman, scrambling down the dunes and waving a crimson scarf in the wind to catch his eye.

Going west, my dear?“, he shouts just loud enough for her to hear.

She whirls and twirls and nods back from a distance, moving in a way that both defies her age and reveals her timeless spirit in a single gesture.

“Better hurry up then! Sun’s setting! We’ll need to get out beyond the bluffs while there’s still an ounce of daylight to burn.”

The old woman scrambles some more. Within moments, she reaches the shore. The boatman takes her by the hand and welcomes her aboard. Then he unceremoniously tosses her an oar.

“In this boat, we all row. No matter how young or old. Hope you don’t mind, Ms.”

She nods again without hesitation, and together they carve a path against the waves.