Fall Contest 2020 Secrets in the Wind


Premarital Canibalism? I think not.
Listen, Rhys, his father used to say. Listen to the wind. Rhys would stand there, listening as hard as he could, not understanding. Shaking with the cold as the rain pelted him, the very wind that he was told to listen to battering him, as if pushing him back towards the house. Seeing his frustration, his father would pat Rhys on the back. If you listen hard enough, boy, the wind will tell you all the secrets of the world. It will teach you a lesson not many are brave enough to learn. Rhys was taught many lessons growing up, standing in the rain for hours just one of them. Johnathan Baker found a lesson in everything, and made a point of sharing those with Rhys. The first began when his mother died of cancer, when Rhys was only five. Life isn’t fair, boy. It finds beauty and destroys it, in any way it can, his father said, patting Rhys’s back, as he stood over the cold, dirt filled hole in the ground where they had buried her. It had been raining then, too. In fact, most of the lessons Rhys had learned growing up were taught to him in the rain, as if the wind did indeed whisper to his father, who seemed to be the only one brave enough to learn the lessons he spoke so freely of. Until one day, when Rhys was sixteen, the very storms John so cherished had taken his life. What lesson was to be learned from that? From then on, Rhys could hear the wind, hear its secrets. It spoke with his father’s voice, following him constantly. It never seemed to have the answers he was looking for.

Now, almost seven years later, Rhys sat on the hood of his car, rain falling around him, as he did every time a storm rolled around. This one was particularly aggressive, lightning striking, thunder crashing all around. The wind tore at him, screaming, yelling, but for all the world Rhys could not find the lesson that was to be learned that night. Rhys pulled out his phone, sheltering it with his body, listening to that voice mail that had been in his inbox for those seven years, the one he listened to in the rain. Hey Rhys, my boy, his father’s voice said, sounding tired. It’s day twenty four. Remember what I told you, about the wind teaching lessons to those who are brave enough to listen? A soft chuckle sounded then, sounding weary. Of course you do, you’re my son. Well, Rhys, I’m on the boat right now, on a job. Rhys remembered that night like it was yesterday. His father, a meteorologist through and through, had sailed their boat right into the heart of the worst storm seen in over a hundred years. Rhys could hear the crashing waves, the rolling thunder in the background, almost enough to drown out John’s voice. Well, uhh...things aren’t looking so good for me right now, Rhys. The boat’s going down, and the emergency boat is already gone. A bitter laugh came from them both now, the sounds almost identical. Guess I wasn’t meant to learn this lesson, I guess I wasn’t brave enough. You are though, Rhys. You’re a hell of a lot braver than I ever was. His father was crying now, the sound hopeless and small. I don’t know if you’ll ever get this, and if it weren’t for the existential terror I’m feeling right now, I’d say I’m feeling a little better today. Rhys’s father had been sick, infected with the same cancer his mother had had. So the bottom of the boat was cracked, but we found a way to patch it up, bought ourselves about three days of travel. But we’re now dead in the water. Rhys had dropped to his knees then a sob building in his throat. Now though, he just stared numbly into the dark, listening. To the wind, to the rain, to his father’s voice. Listening to the ocean waves as the crashed on the beach in front of him. We’re about 3000 kilometers from the nearest island. The patches will hold until tomorrow morning, and that’ll be it. And Rhys, I know I said no more lessons, no more secrets, but I gotta say I was really hoping I could pull of one last one. A cough, then, followed by several deep breaths before John continued. Tears rolled down Rhys’s cheeks then, both seven years ago, and in the present. But it looks like...well you know what it looks like. Don’t feel bad about this. It’s a lesson for the both of us to learn. I—I should probably go lie down for a minute, go rest my eyes. I’ve got to go now. I love you, my boy, always and forever. A beep sounded, signaling the end of the message.

“What lesson, dad, huh?” Rhys yelled then, his voice lost in the wind. “What lesson was I supposed to learn?” Rhys seemed to collapse into himself then, the salt water of his tears mixing with the rain. “What lesson...” he whispered. The only lesson he had learned was everything he loved would be ripped from him, again and again. The wind didn’t tell him secrets, it took his and exploited them. Rhys wasn’t brave, he didn’t want to learn the lesson. He waited, fro an answer to his question shouted into the void, but there was no answer. There was never any answer. He didn’t know why he tried anymore, why he still came here during every storm. Why he bothered to hope against all things that his father’s boat would sail right over that horizon, and they’d be together again. John could tell him the lesson he was meant to learn, in that good humored, patient voice of his. It’s okay, my son, John would tell Rhys. You don’t have to fight any more. That was his job, and instead he followed the lessons he so loved to learn right to his death. Perhaps that was the lesson Rhys was meant to learn. He could hear his father’s voice then. Your final lesson, my child, it said, is that the wind, that fate doesn’t care, in the end, just how brave, or diligent or good you are, it will use you up until there is nothing left. There was nothing left in Rhys, just a howling void, a storm where his heart had been. And yet, he hadn’t been consumed by fate or the storm or whatever. He was left to suffer, alone. He was left to have hope, only for it to be taken away again. So was the way of life. Life isn’t fair, or good, or beautiful. It’s a lie, designed to lure you in, and then snap shut over you. The only comfort lie in death. And yet, Rhys wasn’t brave enough to follow his father into the storm. And so the storm followed him, whispering secrets that Rhys couldn’t hear.


What? Mayonnaise is good!
I love this so much. It’s so simple, yet well written. It kind of gives me ‘Endgame’ vibes, when tony is on the ship.

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