A story I wrote about elves leaving Middle Earth.
|The ship was preparing to leave for Valinor. The waves caressed her bare feet as she walked along the surf. The sea gulls cried overhead, a lament, a calling. She had grown up near the Grey Havens, running from her overcrowded home to the eternal rush and thunder of the sea. The elves that remained did not mind her presence. She only watched from a distance, silent, as each ship was built. Day by day she came, to watch the elves leave.
She knew that ships only went West, passing away, never to return. She looked up and saw Legolas, son of Thranduil, standing near the ship with . . . was that a dwarf? She stepped nearer and the movement attracted Legolas’ attention. He turned and looked into her eyes.
The sorrow he felt was very clear. Ah, the sea’s calling has not overwhelmed him yet. She had seen many elves pass over the years. A great many wore looks of immense sorrow; a longing for the lands they loved and had lived in long. Some left behind parents, lifemate, children and all, for the sea’s call was strong.
Other elves bore looks of serenity, the cries of the gull deafening their ears, the sea’s pounding rhythm in their pulse. She thought of all those she had seen, and knew that Legolas read her thoughts.
The number of elves waiting to embark had dwindled, and the dwarf turned and said something.
Legolas lifted his hand in a gesture of farewell to her and she knew he was also bidding farewell to Middle Earth. She raised her hand in return and watched while he boarded behind the dwarf. He looked back once, as the ship began to move and saw her with her hand still raised, symbolizing all Arda with her simple gesture. He inclined his head to her and faced forward again.
She stood with her hand raised long after the ship was out of sight, though she knew in her heart he had not looked back again. Finally, she lowered her arm and stood looking about her. Nothing had changed and yet . . . They would never return. The elves were nearly all gone, passing far away to the West, and she mourned the loss of the power, the beauty, the silent presence of those who lived forever.
Even if they one day returned, she would not see it. She would grow old and die and her grandchildren would never know elves as anything but a story.
Her eyes filled and as she fell to her knees, sobbing in the surf, on her lips she tasted salt, mingled tears and sea spray. The bitter taste of mortality.
Ordinarily, I don’t write author’s notes, but this story is special. It came to me in that peculiar time between sleep and wakefulness. I saw the entire story happen as though I were truly present and when I reached the end, I knew I had to get up and write it down. I was afraid I would lose the feeling of the story if I waited.
Yes, I know this is not how Legolas and Gimli left Middle Earth. If I recall correctly, they sailed away on a boat they built themselves. This story is more of a might-have-been.