Hi there! This my offering for this week’s picture it and write for Ermilia’s blog here. Once again the picture is not mine I only use it for inspiration. Anyway, enjoy!
We grew up on an island. Just a barren, underpopulated rock sitting on the edge of a vast ocean. Some of us were able to make a meagre living from the ocean or by coaxing plants to grow in tiny fields. The vast majority of us; when we came of age, were forced to abandon the island and turn our backs to the ocean, heading for the mainland and its cities. With all of our friends and relatives on the mainland it was only natural that our minds would also turn in that direction, eager for news and the slow trickle of supplies and money we kind of neglected the other direction. All accepting that is was for all our purposes the end of the world, all except for Gus.
Gus only had eyes for the ocean. Every chance he had he would sit at the headlands and look out over the ocean as if trying to take it all in with his eyes. When chatting with us all Gus would talk about was what was on the other side of that vast expanse of ocean. We knew of course that there were nations and millions of people out there but growing up in such an enclosed, parochial world we never really grasped it, it was just too big for us. Gus; on the other hand acted like it was all just over the horizon.
“Joe!” I remember him telling me once “I think I’ve figured it out!” He pointed his hand slightly off center out over the ocean “If you were to get into a boat and go straight in this direction after about 10 days you will come to a city with over twenty million people. Can you imagine that many people? All just milling around! It would be some sight to see!” Of course we would always ask him “How would you get a boat? There is no way they’ll let you loose with one for a scheme like that. What if you ran into a storm?” He would take in what we would say and continue to make his plans regardless.
Time passed on and we all grew up. I moved to the mainland ostensibly to learn the family business of medicine but in reality to become a writer. Gus on the other hand stayed yet he could find no boat to take him west or steady work to keep him. He became insolated, an outcast, reduced to begging for what little the rest had to give, doing odd-jobs to try and pay his way. Still the lure of the ocean called him and it was at the headland that I found him, in a much reduced state, after I returned many years later.
“Joe!” he exclaimed when I made my presence known “You came just in time! This place has gotten too small for me! I think I might leave it.” I thought he meant the mainland and started broaching the subject of offering him a place to stay with me until he got on his feet but he shushed me. “You think this is it, this is all there is. But you are wrong. There is something more, so much more to the world than you know. I want to go and find it!” And with that he threw himself off the headland and into the depths below.
I was in such shock I don’t know how I was able to make it to the edge to look down. The splash was already dissipating but I could the figure of Gus slowly starting to swim out to sea. We were alone and the nearest help was half-way across the island but I felt for a moment that I couldn’t abandon Gus. I tried to call to him, force him to turn around but it was no use, he just kept going on.
Realizing I was useless where I was. I started running to get help, looking back as I went to make sure I could get a good idea of his bearing. The last sight I got before the sea went from sight was the image over the calm waves of Gus’ head, bobbing steadily in his forward motion.
This was the last that I, or anyone else saw of Gus, he was never found. I went back to the mainland and as my fame grew I was given the opportunity to travel across the ocean and visit the many lands and cities that until then were only manifest in Gus’ words.
Often on my visits I would stop and watch the crowds pass by, imagining somehow that I might see Gus’ face in the throng, happy, like I became, to know, as he had always said, there was something more.