Monday, May 7, 2012


London's Kings Cross Station, image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
"I have always loved to sit in ferry and railroad stations and watch the people, to walk on crowded streets, just walk along among the people, and see their faces, to be among people on street cars and trains and boats." ~Ella R. Bloor


  1. RJ, I'd like to post something here but it's 705 words. Is that too much?

  2. From the ferry, passengers follow a fishing boat as it struggles through the waves. In the row of seats by the window, they stretch to watch the light blue, wooden fishing boat bob up and down. It looks so proud, this little vessel, with its raised nose challenging the waves by going right up against them and its buoys to the rear, fixed, with red marking flags fluttering in the breeze when it heads for the bottom, having conquered yet another swell. It’s a touching sight, seeing this hard working boat on the deep blue sea, advancing.
    Most of the passengers know that it won’t be long before this boat will have to give in and let the bigger trawlers from the far away west coast take over its fishing rights. Time is running out for the small fishing boats, and the locals know this might be the last time they see Ernest W. Jensen out in the open steering his proud ship, KA71, to the jetty of Sejer Island. Ernest is the shadow in the cabin who keeps his boat steady, chugging through the waters down below the starboard deck of the towering ferry.
    “Hope he’s got lobsters down there,” someone says and breaks the silence. The window passengers turn to one another. They are men returning for the weekend after a week’s work in the fish factory on the mainland.
    “Na, guess he’s got flounders like everybody else, and they’re only two a Euro.”
    “He’ll get paid way below two Euro for himself.”
    They shake their heads.
    Today, this last Friday of March, the passengers’ lounge is filled with people. Fridays are always busy, but it’s the first day of the summer schedule, so besides the fish factory workers, locals, and the older students, there are the tourists, the foreigners. They are easy to spot by the way they dress because the island attracts artists, but on this service one man in particular stands out. He sits motionless facing the cafeteria like any other heavy Mafioso who by accident is dropped down on this Danish ferry. He sits in the lounge with his black sunglasses, his Spanish hat, and a black leather vest, and he’s watched as he waits for a woman to bring him coffee. She looks like an old hippie. What a mismatch!
    Still standing and pointing with a mug of coffee, she says, “Oh, look there. There’s a fishing boat. A real old fishing boat.”
    The man, motionless, says, “Where?”
    “Look to your left. It’s a real cute fishing boat.”
    “Oh, see this, see that,” the sunglasses man says.
    The woman sits down. “You can’t see it from here. You need to stand up.”
    With exaggerated difficulties, the sunglasses man gets up. He brings his mug of coffee to the windows and stands there for a while. “Looks like a toy ship from a fair or something. Yeah, it’s cute all right.” His voice is clear and strong like that of an opera singer.
    “You don’t need to speak so loud,” his hippie companion whispers.
    “He’d better be careful that he isn’t run down by the ferry.”
    “Not so loud,” the woman says.
    “That boat wouldn’t stand a chance if it was run down by the ferry, that’s all.”
    The woman stands up and walks towards him. “It’s unlikely, though. Come sit with me at the table, people are staring at us”
    The ferry suddenly turns sharp northeast, now heading for the boat’s course, heading to cross it. The fishing boat aims straight for the ferry for some time, but then turns.
    “Oh, that bastard turned, too,” the sunglasses man says triumphantly. “I like that. Like steering a nutshell, that’s what he’s doing.”
    The staring fish factory workers’ expressions make the sunglasses man study his vest to see if he spilt something. He finds nothing wrong, so he nods to the workers, but they’ve already turned their faces to the island coming up in the distance. They are looking towards home. They catch sight of the church council, lining up on the harbor wall, preparing to welcome the new pastor. They see tourists with white plastic bags, ready to buy flounders from the incoming fishing boat. They see their wives.

    1. Wow! Andrea! I love how you made me feel as if I were looking at a painting which suddenly took on a life of its own. What a fascinating study. Obviously you've been there and done a bit of people-watching, in order to bring out the colors of this day in the life. Thank you.

    2. Andrea, this is just excellent. You've got all the makings of a novel here, especially if you combine this with the lovely island woman who sometimes forgets to put her pants on. ;)
      This line, in particular, really struck me:
      "Ernest is the shadow in the cabin who keeps his boat steady"

      Just lovely.

    3. Beautifully described, Andrea.

    4. RJ and De, you make me so glad. I'd like to think a bit more about answering this - saying preparing an answer this coming week-end. But here: I sit here today and I just feel so happy thanks to your words. Incredible what words can do.

    5. Misky, at du sidder ovre i England og skriver sådan til mig, altså hvor glad kan jeg blive? Du ved jo om nogen, hvad det her handler om. Mange, mange tak og hvor det dog glæder mig at kunne fornøje netop dig.
      Kærlig hilsen Andrea

  3. This is a wonderful slice of life from the island, Andrea. I have my suspicions about the sunglasses man and his reception within that small, struggling society that waits on the docks.

    You've captured such a sharp scene, a scene which portrays so much, shows how difficult things can be for some while others see nothing of that struggle.

    I like it, but then I like knowing who the people are within a story. I don't need great sweeps of action to feel satisfied. This little story, for me, satisfies quite well.

    1. Claudette, whatever I write, I always end up with the same theme in short: "No man is an island" - I guess, you know Donne's poem. But beneath this I fight for all the small islands because I see a value in their existence. On a small island people's lives depend on each other so you either learn to behave or you must leave for the mainland. So yes, I also like to show our culture because I'm not impressed by the culture that I see in Copenhagen.
      Thanks for your comment.

  4. You're very welcome, Andrea. I think your "theme" is well placed. Part of the problem with the "city" life scene is that there is no time in one's life amid the scramble and jostle of city life to appreciate the uniqueness of individuals, the need for that individuality and its opposite--inter-dependency.

    You show that beautifully here and with all of your writing that I've seen so far. There is great need for that in the literary world, I think, and so few who can deliver it.

    Don't ever stop writing about your little islands. Keep the pride going.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Holy cow, Jeannine. This is ready NOW.
      LOVE "a string of jobs, a string of disappointment, all tangled around her like a web, keeping her in place."
      The visual of the snow globe. So powerful. Showing, not telling.
      That last line. Wonderful.
      I am SO glad you are here. This form suits you SO well.

    2. I totally agree with De. Wow! Just wow!