• Vol. 01
  • Chapter 12
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Distant outlook

The old man took the outlooks cloak and turned to face the sea, pulling the heavy felt garment over his shoulders, each metal clasp making a small clinking noise as he attached them together. His predecessor nodded without a word and turned and walked away.

He shifted his shoulders under the weight, the burden signifying the importance of the role. Standing on the stone broach they had thrown out into the sea, each great volcanic rock lifted into place by a great wooden crane, the remains lying rotting behind him, he stared out across the water.

The land they had crossed to reach here was now deep underwater, in twenty years the rich valley had succumbed as much had to the rising sea. The distant headland their link to anything that reminded them of the past. From there three more islands would need to be crossed before the next remaining land mass was reached.

Were they safe? The looker settled in his role, the felt blocking any wind from reaching him, the material holding in any warmth from his body. Soon the battle was between his mind and soporism would begin. He would start to chant, low slow words repeating messages and stories, ones they still shared and remembered with. Ones they passed around the fires at night.

Behind him all movement receded as his family and friends moved about the days business. Gull egg picking, seaweed foraging, searching the shores from jetsam. The sparse tress on the island were jealously guarded, every seed and fruit found a safe haven in the soil between the rocks, trying to restock the landscape. He heard the two small boats they still had set off away to his left, the mackerel were running, let them be lucky and return with a good catch and the nets intact.


Distant outlook

His eyes never left the horizon and the island beyond. Searching for any change. An indistinct smudge below the cards marking a fire. A dark mark on the water or a distant sail denoting a boat. The houses behind him were now enclosed in a stone wall, the gates of sea hardened driftwood. Children laughed away behind him, a smile curl lifted the ends of his lips. His frown remained. Underneath the cloak he tucked his hands into his seal skin belt. The seals had stopped returning to the beach, they had taken too many of them. They would now be visiting a more friendly beech a safe distance from here. The oil and skins were missed. The taste was not. They still had bones to boil for glue.

Looking slowly left and right he scanned the horizon, his eye drawn to flashes and flecks in the water thrown by the wintery sun. Nothing marked the water to worry him. The horizon was clean of smoke. His thoughts drifted to the shed behind the wall, would the chickens lay soon? He missed the taste of eggs.