Short Fiction Writers Guild
She lies on the beach, this relic of the past.
Once a hospital ship, she is now a ghost.
Sand. Insinuative. Indomitable. It scrapes against her belly, against her bones.
She has given up trying to move, this sea-born spirit, now earth-bound.
Yet she dreams.
She dreams of other days, days long past. Of long hours spent on sparkling seas, of the sounds of warfare and moments filled with valor and the roar of gunfire. Her memories are all that sustain her. But she despairs, does the ship. Her memories are fading— her mind eroding away, taken along with errant flakes of her rust by the ever rising and ebbing tide.
She was brave in her time; she still knows this— her courage carried in the strength of her beam and in the thickness of her hull. She protected those she sheltered. She never flinched in facing the guns brought to bear against her. She wore the scars they scored against her sides like badges. Her wounds did not bleed back then, not like her rusty bones bleed now.
Who knew salt in the end, was stronger than gunfire?
Or is time the enemy?
It has taken a lot from her—her doctors, her nurses, her soldiers. Time has stolen them. They have vanished along with the staccato rhythm of their footsteps against her deck— footsteps that throbbed through her like the beating of a disembodied heart.
Hearts bleed, just like soldiers once bled on her deck.
Her heart is bleeding now.
The days are long.
The waves. They are incessant.
She is weary. The ship.
Why so weary?
Suddenly, she cannot remember.