The Harbour

The tide was beginning to creep around the bottom of the sunken hulls when Charlie, a tall 24-year-old with broad shoulders but otherwise narrow frame, walked down through the cobbled streets, passing tightly packed Cornish fishing cottages, built from rough-faced granite stone. Along the street running adjacent to the harbour, he kicked broken mussel shells, dropped from great heights by adroit gulls. Shouts from skippers and their crews prepping lobster traps, ropes and buoys, lost their way in the lifting sea haze. A few miles out in the Atlantic, bruised clouds threw rain down with such intent, menacing black lines hovered vertically.

Charlie was dressed appropriately for the cool morning, wearing a mustard rib crew neck sweater, black cargo trousers, a pair of mid-cut work boots and a navy-blue trawler beanie.

Paintings, along a wall next to his place of work, depicting the history of pressing pilchards kept a sense of tradition and local pride in the air.

Unlocking the door to his business, Charlie overheard two elderly men with thick local accents. ‘Owaree pard?’ one said. ‘Wasson me cock?’ The other replied. Charlie turned, frowning at the two who continued their conversation, before shutting the door behind him. He walked through the building to the back room, removing his sweater, revealing an upper torso filled with nautical tattoos. Two swallows etched onto the top right and left of his pectorals indicated a total of 10,000 nautical miles travelled. An anchor on his right forearm showed he had sailed across the Atlantic, or was a Merchant Mariner. A nautical star on his left bicep demonstrated he could always find his way home. A fully-rigged ship on his chest represented he had sailed around Cape Horn. And lastly, “hold” and “fast” written across each finger would give him the grip needed to work a ship’s lines and rigging.

Charlie pulled on a black t-shirt, following it up with a dark canvas apron with leather straps. He walked to the front of the establishment. On the walls were framed paintings of old ships at sea, tackling monstrous waves. Charlie began arranging tools and utensils, readying them for what he hoped would be a successful day at the harbour. He neatly arranged deliveries that had been left on the other side of the back door before finally declaring himself open for business. There was a charming porthole that opened up onto the front street just to the right of the front door. The sea air wafted through. A woman who had joined the two elderly men outside, could be heard saying, ‘Dearovim.’ as the three walked off towards the harbour wall. The tide was rising higher and higher. Any moment now the boats would be lifted free, and a day of fishing would commence. Charlie stared at a green light shining from a beacon to his left at one end of the harbour, then at a red light shining from another to his right at the other end. He gently twizzled a few hairs together from his freshly trimmed beard, deep in contemplation. He was soon snapped out of it by a female customer standing at the porthole, wearing tight skinny jeans, a white t-shirt with an oversized red and black plaid shirt over the top, a white pair of converse and a navy blue trawler beanie. ‘Erm ya hi, could I get a triple, venti, half sweet, non-fat, caramel Macchiato to go?’ She asked. ‘Erm ya sure thang. Anything else?’ Charlie replied, stretching his arms out wide. ‘Erm ya, a, erm tuna baguette, no cucumber.’ ‘Tuna bag, hold the cu. Coming up.’

Behind them the first trawler of the day left the harbour, heading south. Soon enough it’d sail past Zennor, Gurnard’s Head and Pendeen Lighthouse. A swell of around 4 metres had been given during the course of the day. A packet of gingersnap biscuits was packed away in the wheelhouse for such occasions. On the aft, was the deckhand, splicing rope, staring back into the harbour at the many copy and paste cafes and restaurants. And the once yearly occupied fishing cottages that sat in darkness now summer was over.        

Published by Christopher Moore

Poems, short stories and gibberish. In no particular order.

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