Tag: Oceanic


Word count: 431
By Beverly Jones

There never is enough silence. In fact, there never is, ever, any silence in the house.
The woman's 5-year-old, too grownie as they say in this Southern town, always looks out for the little ones, the twin toddlers. But now she watches cartoons never as violent or as funny as those from the woman's childhood.
Her pre-teen, playing video games, is busily, noisily killing pretend soldiers and blowing up buildings in a pretend faraway country, waiting for his turn to kill real soldiers and blow up real buildings in a real faraway country.
Her husband works from home, phones ringing, keys clattering on the keyboard of his outdated but still functioning computer.
The woman goes away into the waiting silence, sounds washing over her like wavelets against the shore, making tiny noises signifying nothing.
"Momma, momma, the babies are pulling all the cans out of the cupboard."
She comes back into the noise.
"I'll take care of it."
She wanders into the kitchen. Scoops up the twins, settles them in chairs with Cheerios, squats to restock the shelves.
Silence waits patiently.
She listens to the clink as cans nest together. Boxes rustle as she snuggles them between the stacks of cans.
The electricity flickers out. Curses come from the office off the kitchen. 
"Ma-um."  Whines from the den. The kid takes a respite from killing.
A twin whimpers.
"Momma, lights went out."
"I'll take care of it."
With flashlight in hand, she goes down creaking stairs to the basement where a miniature almost-silence waits. The furnace is off, but noises filter from upstairs, the thump of feet on the floorboards, the whimper of toddlers, a gurgle of water in pipes.
She goes away into the waiting silence, sounds washing over her like wavelets against the shore, making tiny noises signifying nothing 
She finds the box by feel, slick and cool against her fingers. With a click, breaker flips over and noise returns, hum of fridge, killing of soldiers, clacks on the keyboard, wail of toddlers whose Cheerios have run out.
She comes back into the noise.
Silence waits patiently.
She refills the Cheerios bowls, listens to her five-year-old's patter, calls to the pre-teen to pleeeease turn down the volume, raps softly on the office door,
"Dinner in 30."
Water burbles through the hiss of the gas stove; pots' lids clang against cast iron sides; silverware rattles as the table is set.
There is always, always noise in the house.
Some day she knows, fears, anticipates, she will move into and through the oceanic depths of the silence and never surface.

OCEANIC: A Step Ahead By Matt Powers

Word Count 453

A Step Ahead
By Matt Powers

AT RISE: Todd stares at a small headstone in a graveyard.
I wanted to be a great dad. I never wanted to raise my voice. Never lose my cool. It didn’t turn out that way. I’m sorry.

(Beat. Enter Ike.)

No one ever tells you how hard…
You know that person died in 1990.
Oh. Yeah. I’ll get back to work.
What’re you doing?
(Pause) Rehearsing my lines.
You…in some sort of play?
You could say that.
You know…
I know it looks weird. I thought I was alone. I’m sure there’s plenty of things you do when you think you’re alone.
(Finishing his thought) I was in a play once.

I’m not in a play. I have these thoughts sometimes, what-if scenarios, that I lose myself in. What if I lost my wife? What if my son was killed? So I prepare. And why not, right? The whole world is a sea of problems. Just look at this place. A sea of green strewn with boxes and corpses. Don’t get me wrong we do a great job of making it look nice, but underneath…We never know. You know? I’m sorry. I miss him.

(Pointing to the marker) Dad.

His favorite line was, “The readiness is all.” Said it all the time. (Laughs to himself) When I was a kid, we went to Friendly’s for ice cream. One day he damn near jumped in the booth and took up a spoon like a sword, pointed at the waitress, and said “The readiness is all.” I laughed so long I forgot about ice cream. He was ready for anything. Broken carburetors. Cold camp nights. Mom’s terrible lasagna. Not like me, but I try. Try to imagine grief deeper than mine.
That line is from the play Hamlet.
It is?
You should read it.
(Ike nods and starts to leave.)
What if I don’t understand it?
You will. When you’re ready.
This doesn’t get easier.
No. (pause.) No matter how much you prepare for a storm at sea, how much you expect it, when it does happen you’re never really ready. But, if you hadn’t prepared, you’d be dead. So there’s that.
Cold comfort. But that’s life.
(After some time) Right.
Hey…if you’d ever like to run lines with me, I’d be happy to help. I can be a script tyrant when needed.
Thanks. I’d like that.
Anytime. And who knows? Maybe you’ll learn Hamlet.


OCEANIC: Around the Dinner Table By Sally Madison

Word: Oceanic
Words: 481
Around the Dinner Table
By Sally Madison

Around the dinner table sat John, his wife Charlotte, Margret, Emily and Captain Bowman. After the routine conversation of weather, war and politics was exhausted,
John began, “Oh, Dr. Patterson is available tomorrow and.. “
Quickly, Margret interrupted him, “Would you like more beans, Captain?” as she handed him the bowl of peas. The captain was about to correct her when he saw the look on Emily and John’s faces warning him not to.
“Why, yes, that would be very nice” the captain replied, as he took the bowl of peas. He studied John’s face, then Emily’s and then Margret’s. He was not sure what was going on, but he could play along.
“Like I was saying…” began John again.
“Tell us about yourself, Captain Bowman,” inquired Margret, smiling at the captain. “Where did you learn your skills as a riverboat captain?”
John studied his sister and saw that the muscles in her jaw, neck and shoulders were tense, but her eyes were tenderly focused to Captain Bowman. John smiled knowingly.
The captain began, “I grew up in London, after my family moved from Scotland. Originally, I was a learner, or student, to the navigator on a transatlantic ship, just after the war. Once I had had enough of the oceanic voyages, I signed in as an assistant boatman on a tug boat going from New York City to Buffalo up the Hudson River and through the Erie Canal. Later, I worked as an assistant pilot on a steamer going from Buffalo to Cleveland, where I met my wife.” Margret cast her eyes down to her lap. “She was not a very healthy person from the very beginning of our relationship,” continued the Captain, “and passed away within a year of our marriage.” Margret’s eyes once more focused on the Captain and she smiled again. “After Cleveland, I made my way to Louisville and joined a riverboat on the Ohio River. I spent a few years as a co-pilot, and earned my own boat. I have been working for the Mississippi Transport Company, here in St. Louis ever since. Most of my trips are between here in St. Louis and New Orleans, but occasionally I, also go up river.”
As everyone rose from the table, the captain suggested, “shall we retire to the piazza?” as he offered his arm to Margret who appeared not to notice, so he turned to Emily and offered his arm. While connecting eyes with the captain, Emily nodded her head to Margret. At first he was confused, and then his eyes brightened. He took Margret’s hand and placed it in the crook of his elbow. “What a lovely evening this is,” he commented, with a satisfied look of contentment, at having resolved the puzzle. He escorted the young ladies, leading Margret by the hand gently over the threshold. Again Emily’s eyes met with the Captain’s. He nodded, letting her know he understood her hint.

OCEANIC: Water World By Nan Ressue

Word Count 502
By Nan Ressue
I am convinced that an account of these extraordinary times must be kept in case mankind survives and the lessons we’re learning can become part of the historical record.
We have lived through a sad and angry time on our planet when reason and diplomacy had been cast aside and the land and all upon it have suffered with radioactivity. Families still above ground wear the infamous white suits and face masks to protect themselves from poisonous burns and early death. Underwater is the only safe place left and think tanks are working night and day to refine the oceanic hydrocapsules established off the Atlantic coast near the Carolinas. The crucial electronic source has been established using the ground breaking patent proposed in the 1980s. Worldwide cooperation and trillions of dollars were used to submerge a gargantuan waterwheel of classified dimensions in the ceaseless gulf stream, operating slowly enough to avoid disturbing marine life , deep enough not to interfere with shipping, and fast enough to produce the necessary electric supply. This project combined with the success of the pioneering hydrocapsules give us a glimmer of hope that we might survive.
What about parts of the country, which have no ocean nearby? Where do people in those locations go to save their lives? Are places like Kansas and Colorado automatically doomed? Maximum effort is being expended by government science foundations to establish the minimum water depth requirements. Would the Great Lakes be deep enough? Of course Niagara could used for the power source. Also, would the criteria developed for the Atlantic colony be successful in the Pacific?
My research committee, tasked with answering some of these questions, scheduled an inspection of the Atlantic modules. It was a great relief to shed the cumbersome whites and enter the vacuum tubes connecting us to the sea world’s anterooms. We joined one of the scheduled tours and were mesmerized with explanations of hydroponics, recycled urine for drinking water, mandatory exercise and social programs along with intense research projects aimed at furthering the lifestyle.
There seems to be a hierarchy among hydro pioneers based on the length of tenure in the oceanic environment. We found a crossroads vantage point where we could observe the passing traffic. Would there be an observable difference between original settlers and new arrivals?
It didn’t take long to answer that question. With the several pair of binoculars provided with the tour fee, we could easily differentiate. Here comes another resident. This is amazing…. Did you see that she has no eyelids? I wonder if that was expected or if it was a surprise.
The man emerging from the closest doorway and moving this way has an astounding adaptation. Look closer and you will see the gills behind his ears. So far, nobody has passed by who shows rudimentary fins. Are we to experience reverse evolution? I wonder what this life style has done to their thinking? Time will tell. At least we hope we will have time ENOUGH to tell.

OCEANIC: Oceanic By Anne Nassar

Word Count 465
By Anne Nassar
Both the front door and the back door were locked. “Well, great,” Sophie groused, “What are we going to do now?” She was miffed, because she’d reminded Ella several times that it was late and they ought to be getting home. But Ella was talking to a cute boy, and couldn’t tear herself away.
It had been a warm day, but now it was ten at night, and it was chilly. Sophie’s arms were bare. She jumped up and down to keep warm.
“Just hang on,” Ella said. She rapped on the window with her rings. The glass rattled. She kept it up for a couple of minutes. But no one opened the door.
“Maybe she isn’t home,” Sophie said.
“Her car’s in the garage,” Ella pointed out.
“Maybe she’s sleeping?” Sophie said.
“Sophie,” Ella said irritably, “She isn’t sleeping.”
Sophie’s eyes grew big and round, and her lower lip quivered.
“Look,” Ella said, “there’s no point in getting upset. When a person does the same thing over and over again, you ought to expect more of the same. “Sophie nodded.
“How many times do you have to get bit before you understand the nature of the beast?” Sophie put her head down.
Ella was full of ire, and couldn’t swallow it down. Rather than spew out more invective and hurt Sophie, she decided to take a walk through the rose garden. The roses were in full blossom, this being August, and the oceanic breeze blew her hair back. She tried to focus on the scent of the roses and the feel of the wind. It was so hard to do. But after awhile, she found that the tension has dissipated. She noticed that the ladder that the gardener used when trimming the tallest of the rose bushes had been left out on the grass. She set up the ladder next to the house. From the top step, she could reach her bedroom window. She’d left it open.
She crawled in the window headfirst and landed on the bed. She rolled off the bed, ran through the dark house, down the stairs, and to the front door. Sophie was curled up in one of the wicker porch chairs.
“How did you get in?” she asked, surprised.
“Elf magic,” Ella said. She waited for Sophie to get up and come in, but she didn’t.
“Sophie, come on, it’s freezing!” Ella protested.
“I don’t want to,” Sophie said, “I’m not welcome.”
Ella wanted to say, Mom locked the door at ten because she couldn’t wait any longer to have a drink, and then she didn’t answer the door because she doesn’t want us to see her drunk. But she couldn’t. It couldn’t be said. So she said, “I live here. You’re welcome in my house.”

OCEANIC: Oceanic By Miriam Rose Mancuso

Word Count 459
By Miriam Rose Mancuso
When Julia got to her hotel room, she flopped on the bed, letting her heavy suitcase hit the floor. She took in a large deep sigh. She pulled the chocolate bar out of her stomach and began munching. Vivien kicked.
“Not a fan of Twix bars, are you, Vivi?” Julia rubbed her bulging belly and giggled at the thought of her daughter refusing a treat.
Julia pictured Vivien with lovely clear blue eyes, soft red lips, pale freckled skin and Julia’s red hair. She prayed that Vivien wouldn’t have brown hair, brown eyes and tan skin. That would break her heart. Julia tried her best to lift herself up so that she could snuggle under the covers. She kicked off her shoes, removed the sunglasses, pulled off her shirt, unhooked her bra and pulled off her skirt. She wrapped the clean beige covers over her bare body and sunk her head into the pillows. No work, no people, no annoying siblings with kids telling her how to live her life! It was just her and that felt good.
Julia drifted off to sleep and fell into a happy dream. There she stood, looking beyond the oceanic beach, feeling the cool breeze hit her. She was wearing a blue bikini and her stomach was flat…how??!
“My sweet,” Julia turned heard a familiar, calm voice behind her. There stood Carlos with two coconut drinks with little umbrellas.
“I can’t drink-”
“Now you can! Carlos interrupted. “Now that we don’t have to worry about that baby cutting into our fun!” Carlos laughed and cheered with Julia.
Julia’s mouth hung open a little. her eyes bugged. She looked around the beach and nodded her head slowly.
“Where are we?”
“Hawaii, Julia!” Carlos exclaimed. “Where we’ve always wanted to go! Now that we don’t have that baby spending up all our savings!”
Julia laughed, not listening. “So, you and I are in Hawaii? Why?”
“For our honeymoon!” Carlos wrapped his arms around her. She ran her hands through his brown hair and felt him kiss her lips. She looked up at him lovingly. They weren’t broken up and they weren’t pregnant together. They were married and were in Hawaii! They were happy.
Julia suddenly snapped back into her senses. “Wait, where’s the baby?” Julia hyperventilated at the thought of what Carlos was about to say.
Carlos shrugged and wrapped an arm around his new wife. “Let’s just say…heaven>”
“What? No! No! This can’t be happening! How could I do this?” Julia hit the ground and hit her fists against the sand. She was weeping a river and could barely breathe.
Suddenly, Julia woke up with a hard kick from Vivien. She realized she had only been dreaming. She made the sign of the cross.

OCEANIC: Ocean Voyage By Joann Dickson

Word: Oceanic
Word Count: 431
Ocean Voyage
By Joann Dickson

What an adventure!  A trans-oceanic voyage to start a new life in the States!  James and I are so looking forward to settling in with his new position at the firm’s New York City office.  New York City!  I’ve only heard stories about it, but I can’t wait to see it!  The tall buildings, the hustle and bustle, the fast pace of city life!  This is like a fairy tale come true.  

I have been packing for weeks, and trying to decide what we need to bring, or what we will buy when we get to the States.  James is going to be so successful in his firm, I’m sure he’ll be senior partner before long.  He is so well respected and has already proven his talents in London, and now he will get to shine over on the other side of the Atlantic.  His colleagues are planning a dinner party to introduce us when we arrive.  I hear they all live in luxurious apartments right in the heart of the city.  We’ll find a small place to start with and I’ll be busy decorating and setting it up just the way we want it.  There is so much to think about!

We had never taken a wedding trip, so James decided we would celebrate and upgrade to a suite with a porthole and balcony. Our first night on board, we are invited to dinner at the captain’s table! Just think of that! Mama helped me pick out a special gown for the occasion. And of course, Mama and Papa couldn’t let us leave without a farewell party. All our friends and relatives were there to wish us well. I admit I will miss Mama and Papa so very much. Especially with the news I have been keeping to myself…

I will have to find just the right moment to tell James my little secret – we’re having a baby! I’m sure of it now, but I didn’t want anyone to know before we left. James and Mama would have tried to talk me out of such a strenuous journey. And I wouldn’t want him to have to make the long trip without me. I’ll promise to take it easy and get plenty of rest. Everything will be fine.

Our driver has delivered us to the pier at Southampton, and soon we’ll be able to board the ship. I can’t wait to see it – I hear it’s the very latest and greatest of ocean liners. There – she’s coming into view – RMS Titanic!

OCEANIC: Heart and Soul By Peg Scarano

Word: Oceanic
Word Count: 508

Heart and Soul
By Peg Scarano

It was spring of 2001. My oldest daughter, Jenny, informed me she had decided to go to Madagascar for her 2002 J-term at Hartwick College. This is a four week trip 20 biology classmates attend to study the flora and fauna of a unique island nation. “Do you have to go so far away? That’s two oceans away!” Her response was a patient, “Yes, mom.”

Then September 11th happened. I assumed the trip would be cancelled. But the reality was, they were not going to cancel this trip, or any other college sponsored J-term trip, because that is exactly what those terrorists wanted to do – disrupt our lives.

The first of January arrived and off they flew. I received an email occasionally (when they were in civilization) saying everything was beautiful from the lemurs to the natives and that she was looking forward to the end of the trip when they were going to spend three days on an Indian Ocean beach.

Then the college email arrived informing us there was a political uprising in Madagascar and the international airport was closed indefinitely. The twenty students and two professors ended up spending two extra weeks in the capital of Antananarivo holed up in a dirty hotel with Madagascar hissing cockroaches and no air conditioning. I called my local political representatives who suggested notifying the news media. For over a week, FOX news and WKTV trucks were parked in my driveway when I came home from work wanting a status update.

My heart was broken and my soul was oceans away. During this time, I heard the song Somewhere Out There and this verse became ingrained in my mind:
And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star.
And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky!
I will never forget the comfort I found in those words.

Finally, we got word that the American Embassy arranged for cut-cuts (the Malagasy version of tiny buses) to take the group to the coastal city of Tamatave (through a monsoon) where they caught a cargo-cruise ship to the island of Reunion. They had no idea they had to sail through a typhoon to get there. Everyone on board spent 2-1/2 days vomiting. From Reunion, they flew to Rome and then Paris and finally, JFK.

Two weeks and two days after they were supposed to get home, I watched Jenny come through customs and I felt the same joy I felt when I first laid eyes on her, 21 years previously. I had my heart and soul back.

Four years later, my middle daughter, Julie, announced, “I’m going to Thailand for J-term next winter!” I said, “No, you are not!” Which was followed by, “That’s not fair!” I quietly explained that life is not fair. Get over it. Julie spent the month of January in the Bahamas and my heart and soul remained intact.

OCEANIC: Oceanic Entrance By B.A. Sarvey

Word Count 500
Oceanic Entrance
B.A. Sarvey
“Oh! Uh-oh! No. Uh-oh!”
The dam burst without warning, leaving no time to think, only to react. No time to panic. No time to second-guess. No time to run for help. Only the briefest, “Really? This is not what I had planned for today!” edging into my sluggish mind.
Oh, for a little Dutch boy. Not this almost-two-year-old, abandoned mid-diapering.
Our world reduced to gramma/mommy and daughter/mommy, and a finite space in the vast desert of her bathroom, our focus is so intense we are unaware of him, wide-eyed at the door. So small and insignificant are we, yet oceanic this event in which we participate. So abrupt and unexpected, this appearance of dark, matted fur. By rote I wash hands. Then adrenaline, and the collective instincts of thousands upon thousands of years, of thousands upon thousands of women doing this very thing, take over. I do without hesitation what needs to be done, while my daughter responds with the trust and instinct born of our deep bond.
One push. A little head, the ghastly color of eggplant, appears, the cord, like a bluish-white snake, strangling her—Get it off…I don’t know how…Just do it! It’s all you—the silent argument with myself taking less time than the telling of it. I grasp the stiff, muscular life-line-turned hangman’s noose, slip it over the bump of a chin and off. Ok. Push. And there she is. Quiet. But not still-born. Relief makes my hands shake. Have I been holding my breath? Possibly. Slow-motion events have played out like time-lapse photography, this flower going from bud to unfurled bloom in something under three minutes by our later calculations.
I cannot bring myself to slap the tender bottom; instead tickle a plaintive mew from her. Ten fingers. Ten toes. A thick, white sebum paste mottles her still purplish-puce skin, but she is beautiful. Did we really do this?—we would ask each other days, months, later.
Now what? Nine-one-one? No, we need help right now. “Give her to me,” my daughter calmly says. No time to savor the slippery bundle. I barely glance at her before pelting downstairs. Through sleet I dash, to the house next door: Pound. Yell for Rosie the EMT. Return with our rescuer. Clutch my bewildered grandson. Now 911.
Suddenly, I am all thumbs, my earlier prowess as mid-wife abandoning me in the aftermath; absence of crisis leaving me deflated—almost certainly in mild shock. I tremble for hours, drained of energy. I spend two days working on a new jigsaw puzzle—my retreat in times of stress. For two days, I wait amid snowstorms for my granddaughter to come home. I will not truly believe nothing is wrong with her until I hold her in my arms. Finally, I do. She is healthy and perfect. And my strong, beautiful daughter, who gave birth in her bathroom, then walked regally down the stairs in her royal robe of black-and-white striped chenille, her baby in her arms—she is perfect, too.

OCEANIC: Oceanic Angst By Jane Malin

Word Count 451
Oceanic Angst
By Jane Malin
The wind was unbearable. She grabbed the railing for fear the pier would give way. Rain slit her face like tiny horizontal blades. She was sure the water was washing away the blood. The seagulls had long since disappeared. They had tumbled across the sky earlier like sheets of paper as they struggled against the wind. They were no match for it. The kids should have been home hours ago. Their insufficient years made them at once vulnerable and superhuman. Idiots! Why couldn’t they just once listen to her? Weathermen had been predicting this storm for days, strong currents and gale-force winds.
She paced on the pier that stuck out into the blackness, only showing itself in the flashes of lightening. Waves crashed against the pylons, and the entire structure shook with the thunderous landing of each wave. The lightening made it feel almost like an old-time movie, just colorless flashes of pictures. Staring at the sand, she could tell the tide was coming in. The sand was smooth, but the waves were relentless. They boomed, over and over again, each one receding to whence it came leaving a shiny wet canvas of sand and froth at the foot of the pier.
Lightening flashed, and she saw something on the beach – driftwood? Hmm, not surprising with this storm. The beach would be littered with oceanic debris in the morning. Wait, that thing wasn’t twisted enough to be driftwood – an oar maybe? She ran down off the pier and onto the beach. Yes! It was an oar! Ohh,… it was just an oar. Then her stomach heaved like the wave that nearly consumed her. For long minutes, she stared into the darkness praying for the next flashes of light. Nothing else had been belched onto the sand – just an oar.
The storm was beginning to subside, but the ocean continued to roar. She watched for what felt like an eternity. Nothing; just smooth, glistening sand. The lightening seemed to stop and so did the opportunities to inspect the beach. Were the kids gone forever? She refused to accept it. Lost at sea? Just an oar to memorialize them?
She dropped down on the sand, weeping. Her tears melted into the raindrops. She buried her face against her knees and wrapped her arms around her legs. A loud thunderclap startled her to look up. Lightening streaked across the sky, and she saw them. There were single, deep footprints coming out of the sea, passing right by her, not 20” from her bare feet. Only one set of prints. How? Could it be? But, …only one? She pushed the seemingly enormous weight of her body to stand, slowly turning toward home. But,… only one.