This week on Search Engine Stories the prompt is WHAT IS THE WORLD SEEKING?
Here is my story –
Mary saw the wheel in the water, moving in an arc so it looked liked someone was steering it from below. The spokes were green with algae, lush as a rainforest. The mosquitoes were out already, pricking at her skin. She slapped at one and a smear of blood spread across her arm. She wondered if it was her blood and was slightly repulsed that it might be someone else’s.
She and Brendan had been fighting again. The same old stuff. His habit of insisting she had said something she knew she hadn’t, knew she would never say to anyone, was beginning to grate. Her resentment was like internal bleeding, buried deep, not visible, but still, in fact, a wound. She did not like it when people who professed to love her, misinterpreted her character.
If Mary and Brendan were anything to go by, the world would always be at war. It was pettiness that stemmed the flow of the peace movement, an inability to let go of past slighted feelings, not a thirst for battle.
Mary’s hands were shaking; really badly now. It might be nerves, anxiety or the sadness Mary felt for her future lodging itself in her central nervous system, blocking her synapses. She flexed her fingers over and over again, hoping to stimulate blood flow. Her hands were cold, always cold. People in the shop jumped backwards when she gave them their change as if she had sent ten thousand volts through them. You should see someone about that, said one customer. Cold hands, warm heart, said another. Not in my case, Mary thought, my heart is wedged sideways in permafrost.
A Japanese tourist startled her with a flashbulb, photographing the wheel in the water as if it was a piece of art or an ancient relic. He bowed to Mary, gesturing to the wheel with a delighted smile on his face. Mary couldn’t help but giggle at his enthusiasm for what was really a piece of garbage. It got her thinking that maybe the wheel was imbued with more power than she had given it credit for.
She decided to play a game, to pretend the wheel had been sent to the surface by the creatures of the water. It was the wheel of fortune, telling her future, steering her in the right direction.
The wind stirred in the fig trees. The wheel swayed in the tide. There was a thicker globule of algae at the top. It was Mary’s marker. She picked up a stick, spun the wheel. To the trees, I stay. To the water I go, she said.
She spun the wheel. It agitated the surface of the water, sending out ripples like radar, bobbing and dipping. Mary knew she was throwing herself on its mercy, but she didn’t care. It was her moment of truth. Her moment of proof.
The wheel stopped, pointing to the water. Mary nodded as if she had known all along where it would end up. She bowed at the water, the way the Japanese man had done, then began to walk away, far from where the place she had called home was.
She thought she should be crying. She thought there should be a lump in her throat, but she felt like a child going out to play.
As she turned the corner she passed the old church with the wrought iron gates. Every week they posted inspirational slogans on a huge billboard. Sometimes they were funny, sometimes sad; often the slogans were questions. Mary decided the questions were meant to be rhetorical for she could never find the answers, but today, for the first time, she actually knew the answer.
What is the world seeking?
the billboard read.
Mary sighed. She felt she was entering a new age. She held out her hands, they were no longer shaking.
What is the world seeking?
She read the question aloud.
That’s easy, she said.
The right path.
Mary walked up the hill, marvelling at how rich the air was, feeling like she could be borne away forever by the clear blue sky.