The Waste (XIV)

Abigail maintained her daily vigil at the docks for weeks, each day persistently hopeful that one of the sailors would approach her and offer to take her aboard his ship, set sail upon the great blue ocean, and teach her the secrets of the fisherman’s craft.

But despite her deep yearning and consistent attendance at the docks, none of the fisherman approached her.  As the days, and weeks passed, she began to truly wonder whether her memory, which she felt rather sharp, had for the first time failed her.

Her stubbornness, determination, and curiosity continued to drive her to the docks several times throughout the day, even as she wavered internally with her conviction.

Eventually, her perseverance paid off, but not in the way she expected.

On one visit, early in the morning, after the boats had surged out unto the great watery expanse,  Abigail was strolling along the pier, lips pursed and pouting, when she stopped suddenly.  Discretely tucked into a split in the wood in one of the large pilings, was a folded piece of paper.  Abigail approached the anomaly nervously, and excitedly.  She was hopeful that this small scrap contained information that would make her daily pursuit worth while.  Why else would it be there?  But, Abigail also knew that this folded parchment may not, in fact, be for her at all.

She plucked the square from the split in the wood, and furled her brow slightly as she noted that the material was actually cloth, and not paper.  She delicately opened the folded textile, and blinked at the black markings on the square.

A. Ten. Pen”

Abigail puzzled on the words for a few moments.  What could they mean?  She felt confident that the A was meant specifically for her.  Being the leaders daughter meant that a majority of the villagers knew who she was.  A, could only stand for Abigail.  Ten?  She was older than that of course.  Oh,but of course, ten was the time.  It certainly wouldn’t be in the morning, as all the fisherman would be out at sea.  What if it wasn’t a fisherman who left this note?  That certainly could be the case, for Abigail felt she had a good handle on those who came and went at the docks.  But if this person wanted to meet under the cover of night, than they certainly could have placed this note here last, or even on a prior evening.  Pen?  Should I bring a pen along?  No, that is clearly a silly thought.  Ah, THE Pen.  The place where fathers giant catch had been housed. This was the same place  where fish were contained before being channeled into the ship for transport.

This person wants to meet me at ten at night at the pen.  

Abigail stood alone on the docks, holding the scrap of cloth, and smiled.

The rest of the day passed slowly, as her thoughts swirled with excitement around the meeting with this stranger.  Allamar and Zara noted her distraction at dinner, but Abigail dismissed their prying questions with a tactful riposte, citing that new reading materials had been promised her by one of Allamar’s business associates.

Abigail fussed around the house for a while after dinner, before telling her parents that she was retiring early.  She made her way to her bedroom, where she lay, knowing she had no intention of finding sleep.  After she heard the click of her parents door closing, Abigail changed her clothes, sneaked out of her room, closing her bedroom door soundlessly behind her, and stealthily made her way out of the house.

Abigail felt a perplexing combination of excitement, anxiousness, elation, and trepidation, as she navigated the shadowy silence of the village.  Though she moved quickly, and purposefully, fortunately, on this particular evening, she had little need for furtiveness, encountering no one on her walk to the enclosure.

Nearing the pen, she descended a set of stairs, when from the nearby trees, the shrill cry of a bird caught her step momentarily.   She scanned the area, but found it completely deserted.  She decided to do a more thorough search of the area, by looking in the bushes and trees surrounding the pen, but could not locate anyone.  She went to the inside rim of the enclosure, and peered into the water.

Abigail chided herself.

Foolish.  Why would this person be hiding in the water?

She felt that she was on time with the directions provided to her in the note.  But after half an hour of wandering around, Abigail began to question her interpretation of the simple instructions.

She waited for a full hour more, thrice heard the strange cry of the invisible bird, and dejectedly decided to slink back home, where she changed, and crawled back into bed.

The next day she returned to the docks, most from habit, but also with a secret desire to root out an explanation behind her non-meeting.  Though the fisherman paid her little mind as she strolled along the pier, she thought that she may have glimpsed one or two fond, fatherly, half-grins on the faces of several of the older villagers.  Nothing was concrete when she met their eyes, she found only furtive glances at ropes, and nets.  Abigail, brushed her hopeful thoughts into the corners of her imagination.  Once they made their way offshore, she diligently inspected dock pilings for notes of clarification, or, follow-up-notes.

She found no notes tucked into the tiny crevices.

Disappointed, Abigail puttered through the rest of her day, returning to the docks for only a brief time in the evening, to gaze, longingly at the ships and their captains, gliding back into port.

She mimicked the motions of the evening prior, with her parents, waited for nightfall, then snuck from the house, made her way back to the pen, and tarried for the sum of an hour.

For three straight days, she repeated, almost exactly to the time and step, all of her prior actions and motions.

On the fourth day, at a point where she had begun to feel as if she were acting like a copy of a mirror image of a simulation of her previous days self, a break  in monotony finally occurred.

It was the fourth night since she found the note at the pier which had given her such hope.  She had dreamwalked her silent-footed stroll to the pen, once again, encountering no other villagers.  She heard the cry of that weird, shrill bird, she had circled the pen, inspecting the bushes and bramble, then with a heavy sense of apathy, sat upon one of the wooden steps, waiting for the wave of disappointment to wash over her, again,forcing her to return home, the mystery of the curious note and its writer still remaining unsolved.

The night was calm, dark, and desolate.  Abigail began to whimper, her eyes glistened, and soon after heavy tears flowed, leading, eventually, to deep heaving sobs, which overtook her.

Why! Why have I pursued this so strongly.  What have I wanted to learn of this to such a degree that it bring me to this state!!”

While she wept, a shrouded figure emerged soundlessly from the trees, fern, and brush, surrounding the pen, and moved towards Abigail.



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