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Short Fiction: Unexpected Delays

By Taylor Hawkins

Sarte Moore and his wife, Claudia, were closing in on their destination, a particular spot near a village on the Faroe Islands, a series of sea islands in the remote northwestern region of Denmark’s property. It was closer to Scotland than Denmark, but the landscape was unmistakably Nordic. The high-peaking cliffs, dusted with snow, covered the land mass in both the distance and their immediate surrounding area, creating an otherworldly contrast with vast ocean surrounding the islands. The water in the fjord between the islands was deep and serene from their high vantage point, as if it was a solid entity, and its walls were filled with crags and crevices that held generations’ worth of secrets. It was the picturesque landscape they always hoped it would be.

Night had fallen since the Smyril Line’s ferry from Seyðisfjørður, Iceland to Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands, landed, and due to delays on the boat, they were running drastically behind. A miscommunication with the rental car service caused them to sit around for another hour. It was the nature of travel. Things rarely went according to plan on a trip like that, but there was something about the unpredictability of the process that made even the strangest of problems seem more exciting that the mundane realities of everyday life for Sarte and Claudia. After traveling together throughout North America in their early 20s, their adventures came to a grinding halt when they started a family together. Instead of going to Mt. Fuji, they instead went to the Smoky Mountains and Dollywood with the kids. Trips to secluded beaches in Fiji were put off in lieu of a beach a couple of hours away. It was such as life goes. After their children flew from the nest and began forming families of their own, Sarte and Claudia put together a list of places to go and things to see before they left the world, and the final event on the list was to watch the Northern Lights in Gjógv. They had lived the mundane life, and it was finally their chance to truly live.

Their rented Nissan Qashqai was smoothly eating up highway on their short hour and 15 minute drive to Gjógv, and it seemed like they might have time to spare before the show began. As they were roughly half an hour away from their destination, they hit bump and the entire car began to shake violently until they came to a stop. Great, they both thought simultaneously. It was another delay in a series of delays.

“I guess I need to fix this before we’re too late,” Sarte said, sighing under his breath slightly.

“Do you need any help, dear?” his wife asked with genuine concern.

“No thank you, honey. It should just take a minute,” he responded, kissing her cheek to reassure her before getting out of the car to assess the damage.

It was what he expected, a flat tire. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone, an intricate and beautiful piece of modern technology that had served him well in the past, and saw No Service in the upper left corner. He hadn’t had service since they left the United States, but he constantly checked it as if he would magically find a signal, more out of habit than anything else. He checked the trunk to find a spare tire full of air and the necessary equipment. It was a stroke of good luck.

He began loosening the lug nuts and found himself struggling to do so. Winded, he finally got them all loosened before jacking the vehicle up and changing the tire. He had changed tires numerous times over his life, and he had never had an exhausting sensation come with the deed. It felt as if his mortality was slipping away. He wasn’t quiet as strong as he once was, not quite as spry or energetic. When he got back into his car after the work had come to a completion, he looked at Claudia. She was as beautiful as she had ever been, though her hair was graying and the lines of age presented themselves more clearly on her face. In that moment in the deserted region on one of the Faroe Islands, he had never loved her more. She was more than his lover, friend, and the mother of his children. She was his partner in his second life, his search for adventure and enlightenment. They embraced once more and set off on the road once more.

When they arrived, the spot they had been told about, an empty clearing on the side of a mountain, was secluded, which delighted them tremendously. It was a moment they were unwilling to share with strangers if it could be helped. They loved meeting new people, but this was the final chapter of their list, their intimate journey. Unfortunately, the sky was dark and empty. They tough they were going to be late, but it seemed as if they were just there on the wrong night. A chilling wind from the ocean reached them, causing Claudia to huddle up closer to Sarte for warmth. Even then, his heart skipped a beat out of joy.

Then, as if created by some magical command, the first wave of an almost unnatural green flashed across the sky, and it was followed closely by a blue aurora. The waves danced as if their entire purpose was to hypnotize you. Aurora Borealis, the show of a lifetime.

“What now, Sarte? We’ve done all we have wished to do, seen all we have wished to see. What’s next for us?” she asked, holding his arm in her arm for both warmth and comfort.

“I suppose there’s only one thing left we can do,” he responded with certainty. “We’ll make a new list.”

And they sat in silence as the green and blue waves danced rhythmically into the night.

 

About the Author:

Taylor Hawkins lives in Mississippi and works as a freelance writer.

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