by Myles Abroad
A wave breaks, crashing on the pebbled beach. In the fading light, foam sprays, swept by a wintry gust that tugs at my hat, filling my nose with a salty tang. I brace against the chill and stride along the water's edge, Callum's words grating in my head. What in God's name happened to you? My reckless brother. Always the latest scheme, but it's me that rescues him. And yet, I can't say I'm not tempted.
The foghorn lows from the outcropping ahead, the lighthouse's beacon shining across the roiling sea. To distant lands. Callum's eyes danced when he unrolled the parchment promising free land in the New World. A new life, a fresh start. Virginia. I scoffed. To give up my saddlery? To risk my family's welfare? Madness.
Callum counters with news of civil war reaching our shores. King William's forces have landed. I laugh it off, but not before I see worry written across my wife's countenance. Does she also doubt me?
Scorn. From my brother's eyes. It was me he once admired. The risk-taker, the one who inspired the family to never settle for the banal. And he was right. I couldn't look him in the face. What has happened to me? Have I too much to gamble?
I bend, retrieving a stone from the beach and run my fingers along its rounded surface, its jagged edges worn smooth from years of pounding surf. Is this me? Worn by life, destined to flounder, beached on mundane shores? Comfortable, yes, but what have I lost? Warmth trickles through my core, remembering the thrill of the risk, the anticipation of the unknown.
I hurl the stone into the waves, rescuing it from its destiny. Squaring my shoulders, I face the wind. I'll break the chains that bind me.