“Raise the flag!”

Children laughed and played on a disused fishing boat stranded on the white beach sand, oblivious to the worry of their mothers and grandmothers. These had made their way down to the beach in the morning as soon as the storm led up. They kept their eyes on the horizon, pointedly ignoring the remnants of the storm’s memory hurled onto the beach. There were no bodies between the clumps of driftwood and seaweed and that was all they needed for the sliver of hope they carried in their breasts like a faltering flame in the wind blowing from the sea.

Annalene sat on one of the damp rocks between the dunes. From here she could see the deceptively calm horizon. She didn’t want to see the seaweed, broken mussel shells, and wood that would mock her own memory of the days after the storm that only gave her her Hans and her young Pieter back after four days in the brine. And now she was waiting for the sea to give her Christiaan back to her – perhaps dead, perhaps alive.

On her lap was a ball of wool the colour of the sea on a calm day and her hands moved deftly to weave the yarn into a sweater that would keep Christiaan warm when he went out fishing. The knit and purl stitches formed beneath her loving fingers and she felt as if she was weaving a prayer into every one, counting the stitches in the back of her mind. Please bring him back, please give him back, he is all I’ve left, don’t take him. After a while she wondered if she was starting to pray to the sea.

Then a cry. “A flag!” one woman called. “A flag on the horizon!”

Story notes: This story was originally written for the Cracked Flash Fiction competition. In this competition, you get the first sentence and have to write a story with a maximum of 300 words.

To read some more flash fiction, you can head over to Hersenskim Fiction, or click on the following link to read some of my published fiction.

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