The Chorus [LoST S3 R2]

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avatar Torm
Retired Moderator
Level 31 : Artisan Scribe
106
Bye bye shadow lands
The term is over
And all the holidays have begun


“Land ho!”

The cry came from the crow’s nest atop the highest mast. I whirl, cupping my hands over my eyes to shield myself from the relentless glare of the sun and peer forward as if through a spyglass. It’s too early to tell for certain, but I’m sure the horizon has darkened slightly in the past few minutes – as sure a sign as any of imminent landfall. A smile breaks across my face, the weeks of toil spent on this voyage now seeming but a distant memory. This is a chance for a new start, a new future. A future worth fighting for.

As the sun bears down atop my straw head and bare shoulders, my worries seem to melt away. I feel as if there’s nothing I cannot do, nothing I cannot accomplish. I rest my hands on the rail in front of me, gazing wistfully at the New Land – seeing not only that before my eyes, but that which lies ahead. The land has now come into sharper focus; a wide bay stretching wide as if to swallow the ship whole. We pass the headland, into the calmer waters of the sheltered cove. I take a breath, relishing my prospects and praising the Lord for our safe deliverance.

As if echoing my sentiment, a chorus of voices rises from the ship’s chapel below. Determination blossoms in my heart and I turn my back on the rail. Heralded by that heavenly resonance, I step towards my new beginning.

-------

Now she walks on fresh fields
Her tracks are on the land


I straighten and stretch, thrusting my dirt-clad hands high above my head, grunting in satisfaction as I feel something in my back click. Wiping the sweat from my brow, I lower my arms and lean on the fence marking my land. The fruit of my tireless labours sweeps before me, several acres of prime farmland bearing the characteristic signs of having been carefully worked and painstakingly tended. I give a tired smile of satisfaction, kicking a small clod of dirt into the irrigation ditch I’ve just been digging. I glance at the sun, now hanging low in the sky having reached its peak several hours earlier. I glance at the ditch, look at how much further there is to go, and commit myself to its completion on the morrow. But not now. Now is a time to rest my weary bones, tired and achy from a hard day’s work under the sweltering sun.

Leaning forward from the fence, I stab my shovel into the soft earth at my feet before returning to position. Again I proudly survey the results of my perseverance before stretching once again and turning away. I fumble briefly in the wide pocket of my work clothes, digging out a small tin of tobacco and beginning to roll a cigarette. I again glance at the sun fast nearing the distant treeline, bring the rolled cigarette to my lips, strike a match and light it. Dropping the lit match, I extinguish the flame beneath the heel of my scuffed boot. Taking a pull from the cigarette, I drop my hands to the rail in front of me and turn my attention to the winding country lane stretching away in both directions from where I stand. Remembering a time much like this, yet so different. A ship, now so many months ago. Slowly exhaling the smoke, I idly gaze in the direction of the small village barely half a mile from where I stand, yet almost completely hidden by the treeline. The lonely spire of the village church is the only indication to me that there is anything there at all.

I know not for how long I stand there, lazily drawing from my cigarette until the disc of the sun just barely kisses the trees standing between me and the village. The last rays of the sun spark off the brass tip of the spire, creating the impression of a fiery spear thrusting up as if to challenge the Lord Himself. A cool breeze blows past and I shiver slightly as the hairs stand up along my arms. Taking one last drag, I extinguish my cigarette and turn to uproot my shovel from the ground behind me. Exhaling the last of the smoke from my lungs, I take one final look at the gleaming spire of the distant church before turning back towards my humble homestead. As I turn away, for a moment I am certain that I can hear the distant chorus of the evening service, gently carried along by the cool summer breeze.

-------

When it’s dark and evening falls
She moves among men
They would seek to have her as a prize


Impassive. My whole body feels numb, my face naught but a mask as I gaze at what once was. My hands tremble upon the railing, my best efforts to regain my composure having availed me naught. I should turn away, remove this horror from my sight. Out of sight, out of mind.

Alas, were it so simple. I will never forget this scene, to my dying day. It haunts my thoughts, it haunts my dreams. Inescapable. Relentless.

Smoke. A wretched coughing. Flaming tendrils licking the edges of the sturdy frame, the timber between failing to sate the hunger of the inferno. The crack of my heart collapsing in with the roof. The tears of molten glass mirroring mine own expression. Years of toil, years of hard work. All gone in but a single evening. I clench my hands around the rail encircling the shell; all that remains of what once was my world. A lone tear rolls down my sooty cheek, carving a fresh trail through the fresh grime. I let it fall. And the next. And the next. I lean heavily on the blackened fence with a stifled sob. Home, livelihood, money, all gone. I can’t help myself, the weight of the anguish is overbearing. I sag before the tomb of my former life and weep. The distant church bell tolls and for an instant I catch a snippet of solemn chorus; a song not of praise, but of beseech, a prayer for the poor farmer who has lost it all.

-------

But she is in the shadows
Ocean and the sand
She is everywhere and noplace


Circle. I stand at the rail of the ship, gazing out at the main deck and the sea beyond. The heavy sky hangs brooding and dark overhead, a fitting testament to my own thoughts. Months have now passed since I left my old life, though it may as well have been yesterday. My hand twitches, moving towards the tobacco tin in my jacket pocket though no tobacco remains within. Lest I remember….

I could never resettle for any less than the return of my simple lifestyle. An impossibility in every sense. For a while I was desolate and helpless; these were some of the darkest times of my life. Bereft of all hope, surely not even the Lord could save me from myself. I ran myself near into the ground for which so long I had tended. Yet the path taken throughout one’s life cannot be predicted. Perhaps it was Destiny which played a hand in my ultimate salvation; an old, grizzled sailor. A return to the waves. My beginning.

It has been several days now since we last made port; it has been only in the past few hours that we have once again come within sight of the mainland. The lonely ruins of an abandoned chapel peek over the edge of a rocky promontory, as if considering the leap to the stony teeth below. I feel a pang of sadness, the lonely building reminding me sharply of all that I have lost. We pass not within several miles of the granite outcrop, yet I still hear the voices. The echoes of the chorus within the chapel, now lost to the ravages of time.

-------

Across great seas she travels
Up through rising lands
She is everywhere and noplace


Years have passed yet my heart remains cold, my outlook bleak. Still I remember. I can never forget.

I am not as young as I once was; my hair now as grey as the overcast sky. The autumn of my years. The pain of loss – while ever-present – diminished after time, and I grew to accept the hand I’ve been dealt. From the depths of depression can shine the light of acceptance, a stalwart companion throughout my life. My heart may be cold, but it has thawed from ice. I place my hands on the rail and gaze at the land on the horizon, as I had done so many years before. I was then full of hope and ambition, whereas I am now a subject of sadness and painful memories. But I’ve learned to appreciate the good things in life, for one never truly understands their fortune until it is no longer. The ship draws ever closer to the distant land; a ghostly chorus heralding our approach. I stand at the rail, older and wiser to the ways of the world. Life may be hard, but it is worth living.

My lips twitch.

A ghost of a smile.

Isn't that a pretty sun
Setting in a pretty sky?
Will we stay and watch it darken


A church not made with hands

-------


Jukebox


Whew, this took a while - about 4.5 hours in the end, and into the wee hours of the morning. Still, it's done and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. Whilst this has been proofread, it was done very early in the morning and thus if there are any mistakes, consistency errors, or the like then please let me know. =) Apologies in advance if things seem a bit scattered or if the pacing seems a little off. I cite the above reasons.

Written for LoST Season 3, Round 2. I am against Pikamoar and his awesome story 1834. The poll between us can be found here.

Thanks for reading.
CreditChron, Pikamoar, The Waterboys (jukebox song)
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