Flashfiction: “Safe”


“You can’t go alone, it’s just not safe,” the old man said to the younger.

That young man’s answer was hesitant and uncertain, “I figured this time of year would be okay…”

At a small table nearby, I couldn’t help but hear.  Those words, the concern of one generation for another, were all-too familiar.  I could hear the words, but barely.  As if they were coming from a thousand miles away….or a thousand years.

I could hear the words, but the memories were far louder.

My face was wet, the taste of salt bitter on my tongue.  I stood there, exhausted by the fight and ready to quit.  I was ready to quit, but I couldn’t.  I was in far too deep to stop.  I had to see it through.


I shuddered at that sound — jumped, almost — and another shot of adrenaline shot through my system.

“It’s just not safe…” she had said to me.

“This time of year, it’s fine,” I had answered.

Another Crack!  More wet and salt on my face.

Ruffling and rustling, then, almost as loud.  A slight twist of the wheel and the rustling stopped, leaving just the howl of the wind and the roar of the water.

I hadn’t thought we would make it through, my boat and I.  The wave was so tall, and the one sail I had up so small.

Over the top we went, however, and the spray drenched me with yet more salty water.

I laughed, then.  I laughed and I roared and I lived.

Safe?  No, it wasn’t safe, I thought as I looked at that kid.  It wasn’t safe, I wanted to say to him, but life isn’t supposed to be safe.

90D13D63-231E-4FE1-9075-E3223465F80DNote: so, well, I used to sail.  I used to sail a lot.  I’ve mentioned it here before, but I miss the water.  I miss the water more than I’ve ever really said.  Well, to get to the point, one of the things I miss most about the water is the ability to grab a boat and go play offshore for a few hours…or a few days.

With that in mind, I bought myself a birthday present.   Since this is one of “those” years — one of the years where the birthday ends in a zero — I spent way too much and bought myself the present I’ve been needing: I’m headed up to Flathead Lake here in Montana to spend a week sailing.

Remember when you were a young kid and you had a dream vacation coming up?  Heading to an amusement park with your family, or to a big game, or to some place really, really cool?  Remember how you couldn’t sleep?  How you packed and dreamed and prepared, over and over, in the days and weeks leading up to that trip?

Yeah, that’s me right about now.

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