Will of the Wisp





He stood on the edge of the beach, listening to the crashing waves, as the moon was covered by the clouds.  His body screamed of its exhaustion and his head pounded with the pulsing of his blood.  It had been a long tiresome mission and his wish was to crawl into his condo's bed, throw the covers over his head and sleep for a week.  Nothing was keeping him from it, nothing but the tension in his body and the swirling thoughts he couldn't set free.

Earlier that evening, his Gray Lady had gracefully sailed into her berth, slowed and smoothly discharged her compliment of ratings and officers.  As Captain, he'd been the last to leave the boat, after he went through his “in” basket on his desk and wrote his final words in the log.  He was on shore leave for the next two weeks while the boat was being repaired and outfitted for the next underwater mission.  It was time to rejuvenate his body as well, but that wasn't going to be easy.

He didn't know how he had appeared on the beach, just that he was there, being annoyed and harassed by the tiny dog who had escaped its owner's lease.  All it would take to squash the little, self-important Napoleon was one ... sharp … stomp, but he was too tired to even speak with the squeaky, blonde bimbo who kept calling for the furry morsel.  Every time she spoke, his mind could see the chalky blackboard with a nail file being pulled over it.  It set his teeth to gritting and he rudely turned from her and waded out further into the surf to escape her and her pint-size bantam rooster.  He promised himself that if the tiny, high-pitched yapper wasn't caught and muzzled soon, it would be exploring the great ocean twenty yards from the sandy beach, compliments of his throwing arm.  It was a great disappointment to him to hear her talking baby talk to the petite rodent as she stumbled away from him and across the sand with the mouthy dog cradled in her arms. 

He waded back to shore and stood looking out to the sea.  There was disquiet in his heart and spirit and he was confused as to why.  He felt … angry, hurt, and sad, and then the fog came rolling in.  It started up quietly and softly, but soon clabbered into a rolling gray mass of moist, low-level clouds. It didn't frighten him, he'd seen and experienced too much in his short life.  Tentacles of clouds broke away from the main bank and waved around as they came slowly toward him.  He stood his ground and watched.

They were preceded by a mist of cool air that came and swirled around his body.  The air lifted his curly ebony hair and tightened his curls into knots before it swished away.  The tentacles came next.  Their touch was soft and gentle and surprisingly, warm.  They caressed his cheeks and slowly drew across his lips, before traveling to rest momentarily on his hair.  Backing away from him, the tentacles retreated into the fog bank and condensed into the shape of a tall, shapely, gray-headed woman on the edge of her eighties.  The being's eyes were alive, sparkling and with great love shining from them.   Slowly, the body solidified into the image of his mother.

He'd always wondered if this would be how it would end.  She didn't attempt to speak, only held out her hand to the side.   He watched as the cloud bank loosened its grip on more of the fog and it joined with the woman.  Slowly it took shape and he watched as it threw an arm over his mother's shoulder, bent down to kiss her hair, turned and winked at him.  Quietly, the young, tall, dark-headed man led the woman away.  As they journeyed, he felt the peace steal into his heart and mind.  He was calm and pleased she was with his father at last.  At the edge of the fog bank, they paused and she shook free of the embrace to turn and wave at her son, then she looked up and grabbed her husband's hand.  The Captain watched enchanted as the years melted off of her and left a beautiful, red-headed, young woman with a brilliant smile for her spouse.  Turning, they stepped stately and faded into the fog.

He felt the hand clamp down hard on his shoulder and was glad of all the spy training he had endured, for without it, he would have jumped into the moon's lap due to fright.  He heard the Admiral calling his name and inquiring on where he had been for the last ten minutes, while the Exec and himself had been trying to get the Captain's attention.  He mumbled an apology and peered hard as the fog started a slow crawl back into the sea.  It was replaced with the cool mist beginning to condense into larger drops of rain.

As the Admiral told of the notification of his mother's death by natural causes, the Captain felt the bond he had with her stretch and break.  His heart was empty and numb and, without turning, he made some excuse to stay where he was for a while and waved his boss and co-worker off.  As they gave him his space, his tears gathered together with the rain and dripped from his face.  For the first time in his life, he was without family, but remembering her happiness as she strolled off with his father, he was glad for her and he was at peace.



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