The International Writers Magazine:Dreamscapes Fiction
Raymond K. Clement
Maine Coast is dotted with hundreds of islands. One such island
is Monhegan, also known as the Artists Island. It has acquired
this sobriquet because in residence are several writers, painters,
and sculptors who have achieved some modicum of notice, along
with others who are seeking it.
It is an immense
slab of monolithic granite rising three hundred feet above the cold,
grey-black waters of the North Atlantic. It is always foggy. Most
times thick, heavy, and laden with the smell of the sea. It drifts in
and out. One minute you are in the sun under a bright blue April sky.
The next you are enveloped by the fog.
That was the way it was when we arrived from the mainland. The boat
we were on brings supplies, and the tourists, which are the islands
life-blood. Early spring is a good time to come, before the crush.
My companion, as we walked along the grass-carpeted path to the Bed
and Breakfast, was Karen. Besides being an accomplished organist she
is one of the computer industrys leading experts on software applications.
She specializes in helping start-ups. But even more so was
her uncanny ability to assess the weaknesses and strengths of people
and then, rather ruthlessly, exploit them to achieve her goals both
in business and in her personal life. Karen is also an outstanding photographer,
and Monhegan is one vast photo opportunity.
We met a year ago, through one of those phone-date services you
see in metropolitan newspapers.
Im glad you didnt pay for a view, I said looking
out the windows at grass covered banks. I could have reached out and
touched them. I could see a small patch of blue sky. The fog was lifting.
Karen put her arms around my waist as she stood behind me. We looked
out the window at the clearing sky. I thought of what I had to tell
her. If I tell her now it will ruin the entire weekend, Ill wait,
doing what I do best procrastinating.
This is my special place, she whispered.
This is perfect, thank you, I said as I turned to
You are to do some editing, she said freeing herself
from my embrace.
We had both gone through troublesome divorces. We were wary-determined
not to get hurt. The knowledge that we were beholden to no one
We went for a walk. Reaching the edge of the cliffs we heard
the crashing of the surf spending itself against the rocks below. Karen
wanted some close-ups of that surf. The rocks were still
slippery from the rain and fog. They looked treacherous.
Why dont you use your telephoto lens? I said.
To narrow a field, I want wide aperture shots, she replied.
Its too slippery Karen. Her face became set.
The lines around her eyes hardened as she flintily looked up at me.
You can stay here if you want, Im going.
You dont have to prove anything, I said.
I knew she wanted to say that everyday she had to prove herself, but
she held her tongue, instead sternly asking Are you coming
No. She started down the face of the cliff.
Damned fool, I whispered. I should have told
her then, I thought. Ill tell her when she comes back up. Might
as well get it over with.
She slipped halfway down, righted herself and continued.
When she came back up, I offered my hand, in conciliation, she
took it. Argument over. Also my resolve to break the news, then and
there. Lets go over to the windward side for lunch.
It should be warmer and drier.'
Yes, I think your right. The frost was also melting.
We had done it up right I thought as we spread out our feast on the
warm rocks. We had an expensive, pink salmon patè, a crusty French
baguette, and a chilled bottle of Veuve Cliquot. We had brought along
the crystal, short stemmed champagne glasses we had bought in Boston
at Shreves. All was set out on a green tartan plaid wool blanket.
A hundred feet below gulls were darting back and forth between the water
and their rookeries in the face of the cliff. It was idyllic.
It was then we encountered Sarah. That is what we named the seagull
that became our constant companion for the next couple of hours. We
had tried Susan, no go. Samantha came close, but Sarah fit the birds
As I downed a half glass of champagne, I asked Karen with as serious
a mien as I could muster, Are we sure that it is a girl? We could
be making a serious error here.
Jeff, she said shaking her head, Im surprised.
Take a good look. See how she sashays her rump around our blanket. Shes
a girl through and through, no doubt about it.
We both looked hard at Sarahs tail feathers. She in turned
cocked her head looking at us, probably sure we were a couple
of Gooney Birds.
I still like yours better, I whispered in her wind
Sarah sat on a rock, a respectful distance away, unperturbed by the
activity on the blanket . . . until we opened the patè. It proved
irresistible. We put some on a piece of bread, and she gobbled it down.
We soon dispensed with the bread; she took it right off our fingers.
Karen set up her camera and took some portraits of the paté-loving
bird. There was no way I could tell her now. Id wait for the right
Her fingers were on my lips as she nudged me from sleep. I raised my
head, in the early morning light; I was able to make out some moving
forms. My vision cleared, small island deer were grazing on the steep
bank. The were like apparitions as they searched for young green
shoots. One raised its head and stared directly at us. There was no
fear in the eyes... It was rather a softness; a warmth of kinship. We
lay there, transfixed, hardly breathing. Then they were gone.
But in those few seconds we experienced what true peace and contentment
were. Never before, or since, have I known such a moment. I am sure
the same is true for her.
I could write for one hundred years and not capture that
A photograph might come close, she mused.
Later we awoke to rain pelting the windowpane. We lay there in each
others arms but each wrapped in our own private thoughts. Later
as Karen prepared breakfast I got out my MS. Despite all the ways
I had imagined telling her I just blurted out, Im going
to the West Coast. Ill probably be gone a few months.
She turned from the stove; she seemed to catch her breath and with just
a hint of hardness in her voice said, Rather sudden, isnt
Maybe, but a good chunk of money Ive invested is in
danger of going down the tubes. I want to save it if I can. I
paused, I was hoping maybe you might come with me?
There was no delay in her reply. No, you know I cant
do that, Ive just started.
But you said they will probably go belly-up. Why not get
around her eyes tightened again. Just maybe I can prevent
that from happening.
Karen had waged a fierce battle to achieve her independence. The price
had been frightfully high; including an estrangement from her only son
that appeared beyond repair. My experience was somewhat similar. She
was not going to surrender any part of her dearly paid for freedom -
nor was I. We were at an impasse.
A few weeks ago,
I arrived in Italy. Part vacation, and partly to do some writing I had
already collected a lot of material that had been put on Karens
computer. She had transferred it to a disk, and mailed it to me. No
note, just the disk.
I had leased a computer and a clerk was doing some set-up for
me. I gave him the disk. When he opened the first file, he chuckled.
I looked up and there was a photo of Sarah from Monhegan with a daub
of salmon patè on her beak. I smiled.
Karen had remembered! That weekend had meant more to her than
I had realized. Then I had gone and spoiled it all. In fact, our
relationship had been irreparably damaged. A sharp pang of regret shot
through me. But I also knew what we had had could never be recaptured.
It hurt to be reminded of that. Playing What might have been
would be to no avail.
Do you want to save this photo? the clerk asked.
I thought for a long moment then reached across the keyboard and
© Raymond Clement Jan 2006
Raymond K. Clement is drowning
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