The Cruel Sea

I pause halfway up the gangplank of the ship that is to take me to a new life and career across the ocean; the ship that is to save me from poverty, ignorance and prejudice.

I look back at my family waving goodbye – my father, diminished by years of heavy drinking; my mother, the feeble shell of a battered wife.

I think of the abuse and beatings I have suffered, bones barely knitted.

I look at my young brothers and sisters; see fear in their eyes.

I throw my ticket into the cruel sea and return to the dock.

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54 Responses to The Cruel Sea

  1. hmv says:

    So much turmoil in 100 words… Very powerful. I wish I knew what happened next!

  2. Wow, this is heartbreaking. It speaks volumes about the character, being that he chooses to give-up his ticket to freedom in order to protect those who don’t have the chance. A pure example of selflessness, and I hope the situation improves. Very compelling story.

  3. Sarah Ann says:

    I have a feeling he’s going to receive another beating from dear ol’ dad for throwing that ticket, but his mum and siblings will love him. Hopefully now’s he grown he can stay and help them all build a better life.

  4. AnnIsikArts says:

    Excellent and sensitive writing. The characterisation is brilliant. We see that your hero(ine) has somehow evolved to a high state of being – acts according to moral duty (and love and compassion) rather than personal desires – despite his/her own dreadful childhood. I also like the personification of the sea – (cruel) which is an echo of your character’s childhood sufrances and also those of his siblings and also resonates with ‘cruel fate’. Love this! An achievement and a half in 100 words.

  5. hugmamma says:

    Sibling love…taken to the max. Lovely story…in spite of the horrible life.

  6. Now that’s good. At first I wanted more but now I’ve had a chance to think about it, I think you’ve nailed it perfectly in 100 words.

  7. hafong says:

    I like it that he went back because that was what I would have done. It’s nice to know there’s another such as I! 🙂

  8. Alice Audrey says:

    That’s very noble of him, assuming he doesn’t turn out like his father.

  9. Melanie says:

    The love of many can overcome the fear of one.
    I hope yours, unlike mine, isn’t based on personal experience. {hugs} to you if it is.

  10. Really well written – but my favourite part was how you didn’t have a dentist anywhere.

  11. I think I can see ol’ dad running for his life in the next scene.

  12. Interesting and thought-provoking take on the prompt. I hope things will be better for the family from here on. Now that the main character knows he is remaining as a result of his own choice, he will have the self-belief to stand up to his father and protect his family.

  13. Sandra says:

    Nice piece Patrick. I think he should go back, for the sake of the others.

  14. Patrick, Being the father’s body has diminished, perhaps the son can now handle him. Dear Dad seems to be a bully who doesn’t yet know his heyday has passed. I hope this son proves it to him. Good for him as he’s very brave and would probably never been happy knowing he left his family in their distress. They will be depending on him. Good story and well written. 🙂 —Susan

  15. Lovely not to abandon the mother and siblings. I want to know – really want to know how it all ends.

  16. elappleby says:

    One of those stories where you want him to stay but when he does you wish he’d taken the chance and run. Cleverly done.

  17. Choices we make…don’t judge me until you walked a mile in my shoes. Powerful story.

  18. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Patrick,

    Nicholas Monsarrat called. He wants his title back…

    I love the tone and tempo of this story and the feeling I get at its conclusion that the father’s days of abusing his wife and children are about to end. I wonder, though, what the sea did to deserve the adjective you chose. With that small quibble out of the way, I must say that on the whole, this was very well done.



    • Nicholas phoned. He says it’s okay. Re ‘cruel’ sea, here it’s sort of a metaphor for some of that which imprisons them all. I think! Thanks for thinking about the piece.

  19. Dear Patrick,

    I hope he meant to go back, beat the unholy crap out of “dear old dad” and then buy tickets for his mother and siblings. At least that’s the scene I’d like to see. Well written.



  20. Shandra says:

    Wow. A hope of escape then misplaced loyalty turns the tide. Very powerful in so few words. Nicely done.

  21. Interesting, intelligent tale! Good job.

  22. Brilliant – well written.

  23. Honie Briggs says:

    Run! Run far and run fast. Never look back. Oh, too late. So sad.

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