“There, I promised you a desert island and freedom from those men – oh, and those cruel women who treated you like scum in their own ways. You’re free now and this island is verdant green, mostly. Even the very shore is full of food; oysters, mussels, cockles no doubt too.”

Argosy, giddy from thirst and hunger, looks from one woman to the other, both lying on the beach in fading dusk. He’s sitting hugging his knees. An incoming wave sweeps a ripple up through shingle and around his ankles. The mast of the stolen boat rocks gently with the surge.

He stares into the deepening gloom. “Funny, you see sails going out and in, out and in the harbour. You don’t think that it takes anything, maybe just hoist a sail and off you go wherever you want!”

Shivering in the chill air, he mutters, “And deliver you from evil…”

Argosy spits into the next wave. “Funny god we have, who tells you to do good but not how to do it.” He falls silent for some minutes, washed by rising and chilling water. “Anyway, ladies, you’re free now. Where you go from this is up to a fate I don’t understand. I wish you the best: I always did – I always did!”

He breathes with each successive wave, shifts his weight as another rushes round his thighs and as high as his stomach. Having to brace himself by placing his hands behind, he feels a chunk of smooth rock and turns to study it.

“Here, my darling. This stone is shaped just as a cushion for your gentle cheek.” Pulling it from the sucking clay and detritus of smashed shells, he lifts and moves it toward one of the women but her head no longer rests near him. Fading sunlight and the weakness of the moon barely illuminate the white dress and body drawn by backwash into the maw of the next surge.

“To do good and not know how…”

The boat’s broken mast is whipped by the rising tide.

“They wanted to hurt you both. You wanted to escape. I wanted to help you. It’s all want. Want is selfish. I don’t want to be something that a god of want made. Wanting is not enough. I want never to want … see how much I hate this? I can’t even find a way out!”

The next wave submerging the shoal knocks him flat. He lies defeated, choking among the lifting mass of wrack.

©Gary Bonn, 2017