Vasant 2023 Stories - Richard Hartwell


War of Attrition

By Richard Hartwell


The water inside the reef is churned up a bit more today, driven by the squall lines several miles out. The green and turquoise waves build up from wind and tidal impulse as the shore continues to repel their advance. The waters will subside over the next six hours or so, but it is only a tactical retreat. Each attack and withdrawal carries with it the minute grains of ground lava sand and scuttles them in the lagoon. Twice each day the island is diminished. Twice each day the water level rises. Drop by drop, grain by grain, change occurs to both combatants. Eventually, the shore will subside into the sea; the seabed will rise; the water level will rise; and, all the preparations and fortifications of the shore dwellers will be for nothing. I love the sea; and, I love many parts of the land. Such love, however, will not stave off the one nor shore up the other. To them I am collateral damage. I have learned to embrace this conflict, the change. Like the changeable weather, I revel in the flood and ebb of life; otherwise, all would be stagnant. No such truce can hold over time. Attrition continues. So, I’ll sit here on the island awhile longer, but eventually I’ll spread wings and fly away to . . .


Rick Hartwell from U.S., is a retired middle school teacher (remember the hormonally-challenged?) living in California with his wife of forty-seven years, Sally (upon whom he is emotionally, physically, and spiritually dependent), two grown children, a daughter-in-law, two granddaughters, and sixteen cats! Like Blake, Thoreau and Merton, he believes that the instant contains eternity.


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