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The Wreckers

The man and boy stood among the dune grasses, their backs to the offshore wind that whipped the misty rain into ghostly sheets. The man pointed to the blackened timbers rising like a monstrous skeleton from the sands.

'That was my ship,' he said, squinting through the rain at the wreckage.

The boy followed his gaze, frowning. 'It doesn't look like a ship, Papa.'

The man sighed and looked down. 'It was a grand ship. A three master, with a fo'castle and a mighty figurehead.'

The boy looked up at his father, wondering if this was just another of Papa's imaginings. He had never seen his father's ship, no pictures, no mementos survived of the glorious vessel. All he had was his father's word and the rather inconclusive evidence before him, a mere spectre in the mist.

'They picked it clean,' murmured his father sadly. 'Within hours of us running aground, the timbers, the sheet, the line, even my beautiful figurehead. All taken.'

The boy stared at the vast, deserted, rain-drenched beach. This coast was littered with wrecks, but it looked as though nothing more than the wind had moved the sands in decades.

'Who, Papa? The wind? Animals?'

The man stared at his son and smiled wearily. 'The wreckers, son,' he clenched his jaw, his fists balling impotently.

'What are wreckers, Papa?' asked the boy, staring nervously at the beach again.

'Parasites!' spat his father. 'People who make their living from the wrecks. They crawl from their dune holes whenever a ship fouls, stripping it of anything of value, right down to the last bolt.' He looked back across the sand to the remnants of his ship shaking his head dismally. 'Right down to the last bolt.'


© 2011 Kay Lawrence.


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