H. M. L. Swann
Day 14: Stare
300 Days of Writing
Day 14: Stare
Off the cold northern shores of Reykjavik, Guðmundur had caught a whale in his nets.
The beast stared at him. One huge eye that seemed small in comparison to the girth of its body. Guðmundur gazed back, stroking its wet flesh with a calloused hand.
“There, there, lovely thing.” He cooed. “I’ll untie you.”
He spent the rest of his day carefully undoing knots and cutting thick cord in a way to protect the whale, all the while, she watched him work. Air escaped through her blow hole with tiny flecks of perspiration. The old fisherman laughed as if she was trying to play with him.
“Guðmundur!” Jón called to him from the docks. “Why even bother with it? You’re wasting an entire day fishing and ruining your net.”
Jón was a harden man, his wife and child died too young and he’d never recovered. Guðmundur blamed it on the sea as Jón had never got to say goodbye to his dying family because he was out to sea.
Guðmundur didn’t heed Jón’s calls. Nor did he listen to the jeers from the drunk men as the night grew on and he was still untying the beast. He spent all night looking back into the eyes of the underwater creature and he knew she understood him. She saw his care, his time, his attention, and when he finally undid the last knot, the summer sun was moving back up from its place just above the horizon.
Guðmundur went home, poured himself a drink of Brennivín before resting his tired eyes and falling asleep.
Weeks later, another whale had been caught by the other fisherman, and Guðmundur didn’t stay to watch how they hurt the creature—how carelessly they untied it.
The following morning, the men who had hurt the whale, Jón included, woke to find their boats thrashed at the sides, half sunk at there place near the docks.
Only Guðmundur’s boat was intact, and he remembered her kind eyes, her thoughtful stare, and knew…
She had remembered him.