Last man off the Island .......


A Short Story

I looked down at the white shiny bow of the lobster boat cutting the surface and then reflecting of the sea as the boat speed lifted onto a semi- plane , there is usually nothing like spending a day on the sea , especially a day like this , the pillowy sea mists are still holding near the surface and yet at the very salty surface the line of sight still seemed pretty clear , the boat , supplied with the twin turbo diesels slowly rose onto the almost mirror like surface of the sea . Of course I know this path pretty damned well , from the mainland out to the islands isn't all that far . And yet , I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that the GPS and radar on the boat is a huge help and a life saver too . The boat ................ an old Jones Brothers creation , one of the last ones that they built together purred smoothly along . The wipers clearing away the mist's that had gathered on the windshield screached between the clouds of foggy mist and once in a while we would rise up over the swells beginning to rise up with the tide .

And yet the trip today was a different kind of trip , I eased back on the twin throttle controls and let the boat sink into the breaking surf a bit and slowed to a safe speed . I was on my way to the old island where once even I called it home ! Today though I was making a special trip . The last man on the island had passed on , over the years the distance and the cost of deliveries and the lack of jobs had driven most of the inhabitants away to the mainland . And yet .....not everyone had left , a few' hangers on ' had stayed there until a couple of years ago the last of the families had left , the MaCort's had finaly given in as well . Today though , as I pulled the boat up to the run down creosoted timbers and tied off the stern in the calm waters , I turned in time to see the two men backing the pick -up down the ramp .

As I tied off the lines and watched the two men get out of the truck and drop the tailgate I wondered , how do they do this , the shiney new coffin sat waiting for them to load onto my stern . Another burrial at sea ! Another trip that turns my emotions to jelly , but yet we must do what we have to do now don't we .They both turned to the boat without saying a word , and yet we locked eye's for a moment , as they both waved goodbye and then they got back into the old truck and drove away .

I had come here to bring the last living full time resident off the island and to give him a burial at sea as he had requested in his last will and testament . Not something so unusual out here on the coastal islands of the state of Maine . As I started the diesels and motored away from the dock , I turned and looked at the box wrapped in the flag , and I wondered why ? Why is it that some people never leave their home for more than a few miles ! This man never had ! He wouldn't even go to the mainland in the last ten years he would go about his simple life of being a fisherman and that's about all . And now , It was my duty to make this man's one last trip , there were no others here and yet many had offered to accompany me . I thought better though , I knew him best perhaps .

At the shoals north of Monhegen Island I slowed the throttles and began a long slow circle , Tied the wheel off to keep her in a straight line and turned to chores , I dropped the stearn rail and looked one last time , then I removed the flag and folded it slowly and then placing it there on the dash of the cabin , I turned one last time to the weighted coffin...........

"What words can be said , what prayers my friend , what can I say to you that you havent already heard from those who loved you ? .........and with that , I slowly slid the coffin into the sea and watched it slowly sink into the briney depths, the depths that he loved so much , even more I thought silently ......than the people in his life .

"Good bye , my Father .........goodbye ." and as I motored away towards the mainland I realized , yes . The tears are coming now , and thats okay ." I will miss you Dad !"
On the return trip once again , I watched the red sun drop slowly into the sea and wondered ,How many thousand times he watched this .


Comments 19 comments

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

A great tale, as an underlying message rakes across my soul. I miss so much of the way things were... I who has moved so many.

cleaner3 4 years ago

wow, beautiful tribute . you have once again amazed me with your words so deep and yet so light that they float in the air like a butterfly. Thanks for sharing .!

Ghaelach 4 years ago

Morning ahorseback.

You wrote this story as though it is something you went through, or is it that I'm a sucker for a good story and get drawn in as one of the characters. This time I was the captains mate just sitting there watching everything.

Thanks or sharing.

Have a good weekend.

LOL Ghaelach

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

MHatter , I too my friend have done that ! Missed the old ways, the old days ! Thank you

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Cleaner ! thank You, do you like the sea my friend !? well !

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Ghaelach , ahh now that my friend is a good story ! Every boat should have a first mate !Thanks for stopping ,

always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

That's a sign of a good writer when we don't know if it is fiction or a real life event, whichever, it is beautiful. Loved it.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Always , I made this up of course , yet I'm sure its happened way more than once ! Thank you for such wonderful comments !

Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and beautiful. I've read a lot about burials at sea but you added a sentimental twist to them and brought wonderful imagery of the setting sun. Loved this and passing it on.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Thank you Gypsy , your comments always mean alot .......:-}

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

There is something so natural about burial at sea. Going back to nature as simply as possible seems to bring peace to me. I love how you wrote this. Your emotions, turbulent yet at ease, are like the sea itself.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Hello my friend thank you , Hyphenbird , "Turbulent yet at ease" , Thats me dear ! Always have been !

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Loved this sad and yet peaceful story. To slide into the depths as the sun sinks... the old man wouldn't want it any other way.


ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Rosemay , thank you so much , back in the sixties and seventies theere used to be a little magezine that was out each month?, Hitchcock like short stories thhat had little twists at the endings ! I lik that style of writing ! Be well !

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Rosemay , Thank you so much ! Yes thats the only way !.........:-}

nighthag profile image

nighthag 4 years ago from Australia

Sad yet beautiful, to be held in the seas loving embrace sounds the perfect goodbye for such a man and father as this. A wonderfully vivid short story voting up!

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Nighthag , I actually read an article of a rurrial at sea and got this out of it ! Thank you for sharing .....:-}

HoneyBB profile image

HoneyBB 4 years ago from Illinois

You painted an amazingly vivid picture here! And, what a shock to find that it was Dad! What a great story! Thanks for sharing.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago Author

Honey , I love the sea and all it's drama ! And there is so much , once , in the same day I watched a small yet beautiful wedding on the rocky shores of maine , yet just up the shoreline a small family spreading ashes in the surf and I thought " Wow , what beauty in the power of the sea !"

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