American Boat

Contributor: Andrew Ross

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Topic Sentence
“It’s my fault,” the man said to himself. “I did this.”

Initiating Circumstance
A boat. Water. Wind. Rain.

The man sits on the pillowed bed deep inside the sailboat’s cabin. Sees water slipping through the closed door. He thinks. Moves from the obvious to the speculative. Figures his wife and their two friends are dead. The water must have flooded the rest of the cabin by now. The boat’s probably already submerged. That bang must have been the hull hitting rocks, another boat. Maybe it was the boom collapsing. His friends were smashed when the boom fell. If he had been on deck he could have maneuvered the boat to safety. He could have prevented the mast from crushing their skulls. He could have saved them. He could have—

The man had a recurring dream haunt him since youth. The man would enter the land of dreams and envision himself bathed in darkness. But soon he would be expelled from this warmth, the safety of the surroundings he was familiar and comfortable with. He would spiral through a dark tunnel and be pulled into scathing bright lights. His eyes pained, his body weak, he would open his eyes to frightening masked faces and sharp metal objects. The last connection to his warm darkness, to life as he knew it would be severed, and he’d long to travel back up the tunnel, to reside once again in a safe world. But to go back is impossible. And he would begin to cry.

The water slides around the man’s knees now. Still he doesn’t move. He thinks.

Rising Action
His friends—another husband and wife pair—were on the deck keeping watch. He remembered falling asleep. His wife went to the bathroom and he had heard heavy rain. No rocking yet though. He would never see his wife again. She closed the door behind her and he had rolled over and closed his eyes.

When the man was a boy his father told him never to read the biggest book on the bookshelf, the book ordained “Holy.” His father told him he could read any of the hundreds of other books, but to never read “The Holy Book.” This book was off limits. When the boy asked why, his father responded that this book contained dangerous ideas, revolutionary philosophies that could provoke fickle loyalties and unbound submission.
His curiosity unhinged, the boy snuck into the library late one night. The book called the boy, attracted him with its size and fancy lettering. He stood on a chair and reached for the red-bound cover. The book was too heavy and they fell—boy and book—to the floor. Scrambling over to it, the boy laid the book in his lap and opened to page one.
The boy’s father heard the noise and entered the library. He asked his son what he was doing. The boy responded that he was reading a book. When the father saw the book, he told his son to get out. He told his son that he could never enter the library again. The boy carried the book with him and turned to see the door to the library close forever.

The man feels water nibble his genitalia.

Rising Action
When the man had awoken, the boat was rocking back and forth, tipping with what must have been large waves—the man guessed at least five feet. Really he had no idea. This was the man’s first trip on a boat.

The man curses himself for falling asleep. He should have been on deck. He should have stayed awake after his wife went to the bathroom. He should have realized the heavy rain meant a terrible storm. He should have—

The man feels water around his neck. He sits still. He thinks about life.

The man holds his breath.

“It’s my fault,” the man thought to himself. “I did this.”

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