Oratorio for a wreck

wreck-s

 Above, a flash soundscape of Oratorio for a wreck. You can follow the reading in the text below.

Oratorio for a wreck

Sunday. An Orthodox choir sang in the cliff top church: an Oratorio for those lost at sea. A breeze blew off the bay bringing with it a strong smell of salt and seaweed. The sound of the waves crashing on the beach below mingled with the tenors and altos. She bent forward and laid her posy of wildflowers on the cliff edge. An age-old tradition in her village, it was her way of honouring the memory of her grandfather. He had died several years earlier in the shipwreck of one of their finest boats.

She moved forward gingerly and peered over the cliff. Below lay a tiny beach covered in small pebbles all various shades of pink. It was unreachable, even at low tide. The waves crashed onto the beach and transformed into a churning mass of pink that surged upwards until it finally sighed to a halt then receded sucking pebbles back to the sea. Beyond, torn asunder amongst the rocks, lay the jagged remains of a fishing boat.

As she stood there, a small boy joined her and stared down at the wreck. She felt his hand reach out for hers. His welcome touch was warm and comforting. He was one of many orphans of the sea. They stood for a long moment holding hands, listening to the eerie counterpoint between the choir and the waves. Tears formed in her eyes and rolled down her cheeks.

Then abruptly the kid let fall her hand, lurched forward and flung himself off the cliff. Horrified, she peered over the edge to find he had not cleared the beach. His body lay face down, unmoving, his arms and legs splayed on the pink stones as the following wave broke over the beach, engulfing him.

She opened her mouth and screamed and screamed and screamed. Alerted by her screams, a man who’d been working nearby came running. He leaned forward to see what had happened.

We must do something,” she beseeched, shaking his arm violently.

No point, Miss,” he replied, as he freed his hand from hers. “No point.”

Alan McCluskey
Words: 360 Text: Sept. 5, 2009 Audio: Nov. 1, 2017

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