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All the strands of my heartstrings

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I want to tell you.

Tell me.

I want to tell you that, sometimes, the waiting is a struggle.

I know.

I know you do. And I will tell you. I will tell you how the boats fade into the sky, and how I walk back inland, far from the shore, with everyone else. Left behind, lost on dry land, all the fisher lassies, the old, the wounded. There is nothing for us, nothing but the sea and the sky. And the waiting, every day, day after day.

You know. You know that nothing ever happens, here in Perthshire. The sky is huge, the sky is on fire, and up there, the face of a smallish, scarred moon calls us back to the shore, back to that struggle of waiting.

I know.

I know. But I don't want to wait. I want to tell you. Yes, I want to tell you how I stand here, at the edge of the sea, how I don't want to wait, but I wait anyway. How I say your name—a man's name, and I am not ashamed. But still, I tell no one else.

Tell me.

You go out to sea, and I don't, and the first week is the hardest. The sea holds you now, but I try not to be jealous. I try not to be sad—but I am. I am broken, half-alive. I am waiting for you.

Don't be jealous, my love.

But it hurts. Do you understand? I look at the sea, and it hurts. Day after day, I stay here with my pain, like a sharp stone. I hide it behind my hands, and within my breast. I bury it in the sand. You know.

I know.

And it gets cold, and my knee gives me trouble after a long day. It gets so cold that I think my heart will break. But it doesn't, and I don't stop. Me and the girls, we walk past the quayside, stepping over the stones and the shells and the bones, walking back home, day after day. On and on, we don't stop.

No, I don't stop.

Tell me. I am listening.

After the work is done, they sit and drink and laugh and make music, and I listen. I think of summer. I think of clasping hands under the water, fingers entangled like nets. I think of faces looking up, looking at the stars. I think of you.

And I think of you.

They sing, and they drink, and they laugh. Chin up, lad, they say. Cheer up. They don't say you are weak, but they don't have to. And I say nothing. I tell no one else. I look down, into my cup, and I say nothing. I miss you instead. The finest catch, eh? You laughed when I said it, but it was true.

Yes. It's true.

Listen. The sea is screaming, and the waves are breaking and raging, and the wind is blowing, sharp and rough. Up high, all the seabirds are wild within it, and with their bright, black eyes, they watch over me, as they dance in the upcoming storm. Listen, and I will tell you how the wind reminds me of you, of your mouth, of your hands—of your hands in mine. It's not very poetic. I know. But it's exactly as it should be, it's something finding its place.

Something real.

Yes. And there is nothing poetic about this anyway. There is work to do. There are nets to weave and fish to gut and tools to clean.

And dreams to dream.

That's true. I work. I keep my hands busy, and the sound of the buckets and the knives and the nets has its own rhythm, its own sadness. But sometimes, I go out walking at night, to the shore—and I talk to the sea, and I talk to the wind. I stand there, all the strands of my heartstrings entangled in your net. And I dream.

And I remember.

Tell me.

I remember the fire in your hair, and the storm in your arms, and the light in your eyes, and the salt in your mouth. I remember your hands soothed me, like a wounded animal. I remember you found me, and you found it—the sea within me. You found my heart, and my heart was burning.

Tell me again.

My heart is burning. And I hear the rough, wild song of the sea. I feel its fierce kiss. The sea roars, the sea calls out, and it speaks to my heart, and I answer. The sea calls—and I go. I go, into the darkness, past the quayside, past the lighthouse. I go out, to wait for you. I don't say goodbye. I tell no one else.

And I wait for you by the shore. And my love is burning.

My love—

And the ships come in. And you are back. You are back, safe, with the salt and the love in your mouth. You are here, with my charm around your neck. You laughed when I put it there. But it was true, and you took it along with you, along with my heart.

It's true.

And there is nothing here but the waiting. And sometimes, the waiting is over. And I tell no one else, but you're here, and the sea touches my hands and the edge of my heart. The wind blows over the sand. The wind finds me, and whispers in my ear, like a song. The wind kisses my eyes.

I kiss your eyes.

And I kiss the salt in your mouth. And I am lost, within the wind and the wild abandon of the sea. I am weak, I am drunk, fallen at your feet, whole again, yours. Yours, I tell the sea. I tell you.

Yours. I tell you.

But we tell no one else. We stand here, in the embrace of the wind, heart against heart against the sea and the sky. And my hands and the tide and the salt water draw patterns upon your skin. And you lean on my shoulder, so close, your heartbeat within me, like the sudden thrill of the sea. And I want to tell you.

Tell me. Again.

I want to tell you, how the sea changes its colour from grey to green to deep, deep blue, how the sea says your name—how I say your name, like it belongs to me.

And it does.

It does. And here, with nothing between us but the sea, I want to tell you. I am the charm and the catch. I am the salt in your mouth. And I don't want to wait. I want to tell you. But, against my mouth, you say—

I know.

And we tell no one else. And only the sea knows.