Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad

Creative Commons License

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

His eyes almost lost in folds of skin, nose mushed across his face with it's network of red veins, hair that lived it's own life in sparse clumps over his skull. Sinbad scratched thick stubble on his chin as he stared into the bronze mirror. 'I'm so old I must be dead.'
He pinched his cheek and it hurt so apparently he was still alive, but he felt no gratitude for this; sighing deeply he turned back towards his bed and was about to climb in when he heard his wife calling.

'Come downstairs you lazy bag of bones. Now!' Did she have eyes that could see through walls? He dressed and went down while the insults grew in volume and coarseness.

'I'm here my Princess.'Sinbad smiled. The beautiful maiden he'd loved so long turned her head and glared at him. Her eyes had lost none of their sharpness although her chin almost disappeared in jowls that in turn melted into her enormous bosom.

'You stink. I swear you are rotting away in that bed.'

'I need rest. My back hurts and my feet burn, my...'

'No!' she interrupted. 'Don't start a list of excuses that I could recite better than you can. Get yourself out in the fresh air and walk to market. Go buy me a magic lantern that will bring me back the handsome pirate I married.'
Sinbad hung his head. It was true his looks and energy were gone. She was fat, but still pretty and able to whisk him out of her way with the broom.
'I will go for a walk my Love and I will fetch you peaches from the orchard.'
Her gaze softened and she patted his cheek.

As Sinbad walked down the hill he looked at the sea beyond the town. The water looked like silk and it was as blue as the finest turquoise. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and he could feel a Westerly breeze. He loved the sea, it was good to be outdoors. His back eased as he walked on past the orchard and down to the boatyard.

She was a small, elderly Felucca. Her paintwork was rubbed and her sail had been re-patched many times, but she entranced Sinbad. He looked at her a long while causing the shipwright to wander over and ask if something was amiss.
'Who does she belong to?' Sinbad asked.
'A man who traded down the coast, but he died of fever last year so I suppose she belongs to me.'
Sinbad patted his robe but he'd forgotten his purse.
'I want her. Will you take these in exchange?' he asked as he pulled off his jewelled slippers.
'The stones in those are valuable enough for a much bigger boat.......But I'll take them' said the shipwright. He helped Sinbad down into the boat.
The warm planks felt good beneath his feet. Sinbad settled himself next to the tiller.
'Give me a push......and thanks.'

It was wonderful how skill and understanding came back. He held the sail's rope in his right hand and rested his left arm on the tiller. The wind on his left cheek, his feet away from the coils of rope. The Sun ahead lighting a path across the water. Sinbad was content again.

'I'll sail along the coast because this boat knows the way and when I'm tired I'll beach her.'

The day wore on and Sinbad felt stronger. He trailed his hand in the water to measure her speed and she went faster and then faster still, this was marvellous. Part of Sinbad's mind was surprised by how well he felt, he wasn't hungry or thirsty or too hot. He shook off his robe to better feel the sun on his skin. He looked down to scratch his belly and noticed his belly had shrunk; rubbing his hand across his head he felt long hair growing there. He stood up and no joints screamed in protest when he pulled hard on the sail. The boat responded and took him out to deeper waters.
He'd turned away from the Sun but there was a fire above in the sky.
Sinbad frowned 'What is this? It's no fireball or shooting star surely?' The fire grew closer and he could see it glimmer and sparkle. Light bounced off the fiery thing and hurt his eyes, he blinked and rubbed them. Now it swooped lower turning in the air and he could see it from the side. It had the shape of a bird. Sinbad hoped it wasn't a Roc. 'Allah let it be an Eagle.'
The bird moved closer and suddenly was on the boat. It alighted on the upper edge of the lateen sail and sat there flapping it's wings to keep it's balance. It's wingspan was half the size of his sail and each feather was aflame. Different colours played over the wings, crimson and scarlet reds, silver, gold and emerald flickered and danced. It had talons of bronze and it's eyes seemed to be molten copper.
Sinbad sank onto the deck and stared speechless at this terrible beauty.

'You are Sinbad the sailor?' The bird enquired. He nodded.
'I am the Phoenix.' The bird paused. 'You look confused. Perhaps you have not heard of me, this name was given me by the Greeks. Others have different names, but it's always me they mean.
'I have come to give you the chance to choose your fate. You are famed far and wide for your bravery and recklessness on the oceans, yet you left the sea years ago and live a comfortable life on land. Are you content to pass your final days in warm sunshine and talk with other old men of your glorious past? Or do you crave one last adventure; a journey through wonders you never dreamt of to a destination known only by those who went before you?'

Sinbad found his voice.'I went ashore for love of a chaste and delightful maiden, but I've found the Sea has a hold on me far stronger than any woman and she will not mind if I travel on; I think she's always known I would. I choose adventure Phoenix.'
'You will not return, but your loved ones will meet you in another place. If you are sure you wish to go take hold of my tail feathers and don't be afraid.'
'Take me with you Phoenix.' Sinbad reached for the bird's tail and felt the strong muscles of his forearm flex as he seized hold. There was a moment of fierce pain then his heart burst open spilling immortal light. The Phoenix rose up into the darkening sky carrying Sinbad into a night clothed in stars.

1 comment:

Kristine McKinley said...

I don't know anything about Sinbad but I found this enjoyable. I liked the imagery and the fact that when he got back to what he loved everything started to get better for him.