Those Who Would Dance for the Gods
1135 words long
The power to soothe the sea comes at a steep price. Kara wouldn't call that unfair. But installments keep coming due at unpredictable times.
Notes from the author:
Most mornings I use a writing prompt to get my brain unstuck and rolling along new roads. The prompt needn't be very elaborate. The more vague, the better, in fact.
A great example is the "string of ten" posted every day by Flash Fiction Chronicles. It's just a list of ten words, that's all. Well, also a quote, but the quotes tend to leave me cold.
Sometimes I need to spend a few minutes listing associations for each of the words in order to get started. Sometimes I just glance at two or three of the words and a story shows up. This fictionette was very much the latter case. The words "icy," "deck," and "cartwheel" immediately gave me a ballet troupe on board a ship at sea, a cold storm lashing the sails.
I didn't bother looking at the other seven words, which is just as well, seeing as how I didn't have a clue what "pergola" meant in the first place. It may show up in a future fictionette, now that I've looked it up.
The icy deck and rolling waves made walking upright difficult, let alone the cartwheels and roundoffs that tonight's ritual would require. But needs must. The priests were belowdecks for now, preparing for their big moment with deep stretches, conscientious warm-ups, silk slippers with rubberized soles. They would not go above until sunset. Besides the danger of practicing unprotected in the storm, there was the risk of interfering with the sailors, who strove to keep the ship upright and whole as best they could while they waited for divine intervention.
The gymnast-priests were excited as well as afraid. Every voyage that could afford it shipped with a sacred troupe on board, but it was rare for a troupe to see action. To be sure, they'd entertained themselves and others over the voyage thus far with the effort and spectacle of their daily conditioning, but such exercise meant little. Circus tumblers did as much. Each gymnast-priest had trained since their childhood, shaping their bodies and their lives toward a single purpose that each one yearned to fulfill. In their secret hearts, each had longed for the storm. Now that it had hit, each exulted.
But the first blow of the storm had swept a sailor overboard, turning their exultation queasy with guilt. Guilt gave way to a fierce determination to assuage it. Their sunset ritual would succeed. In the name of lost Tom Engleman, it must.
Kara felt that determination even more keenly, for she had been closer to Tom than any of them....
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for September 5, 2014. This excerpt also appears at Wattpad. The fictionette appears in its entirety at Patreon and is available to all Patrons pledging at least $1/month.
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