I had come to the Port on the Ship. I had stood with my fellow passengers upon her bow, rising high and white above the water as we entered the harbor; then at mid-day I, like the other passengers, wasted no time in descending the broad gangways where we were met by the welcoming locals who greeted us by placing garlands of flowers on our heads and toasting us with spiced drinks of local creation.
For hours I had wandered the streets of that magnificent port. Once it had been the vanguard of a mighty empire now long forgotten but today it was a place of exotic beauty, a place where all the ships of the world came to trade and to mingle and to exchange stories of the myriad sights they had seen and the many novelties they had encountered so that all the world would know the secrets beyond their own horizon.
I became enraptured of the Port. All day I had explored its myriad winding streets, engrossed by the aromas of exotic spices, the tastes of unknown languages, the colors of foods I had never seen and the touch and taste of alien but strangely beautiful woman. So when it was time for us to return to the Ship for the evening I remained behind in the port, for the Ship was not due to depart until long after the next sunrise and thus I knew that I would have time to continue to sample the novel delights of the Port and still return to the Ship in time for its departure.
At night the Port rang with the sounds of dancing, of song and of revelry. I wandered from place to place and at each location I was welcomed. I traded the stories of my travels for food and drink and companionship and the night became a comforting cloak of exotic perfume, of warm touching and the smoothness of silken sheets.
Then, just before dawn, I was suddenly awakened by a loud roaring and a crash and then the screams and cries of horrified citizenry. I rushed out of the room in which I had finally come to rest and down to the water’s edge only to see the Ship lying on it’s side; broken and bleeding from numerous wounds. The people on the water’s edge told me of the great wave that had come unexpectedly from the Sea, the wave that had lifted the Ship and crushed it against the dock, scattering its broad gangways and sending the locals with their garlands of flowers and their spiced drinks fleeing for their lives as the Ship’s skin was torn open by the cruel strength of the wave against the dock before being pulled back into and under the surface of the water.
They told me that all on the Ship had perished and none would believe me when I told them that I was of the Ship. After all, all on the Ship were to have returned on board before evening so I could not have been a survivor. When I told them my name they told me that man had died on the Ship so I could not be him and they sent me away.
So now I wander the streets of the Port homeless and alone. I can no longer trade my stories for they are old and the only currency the Port knows is novelty. I have watched the other ships come and go but none will take me aboard because they claim I am a dead man and no one wishes to have a man who is dead among their number. So I wander by day searching for what scraps of food and drink and companionship I can find and at night I sit at the edge of the water looking towards the broken body of the Ship, her bow now submerged in the oily waters of the harbor and her gleaming white hull now broken and rust streaked and weep as I recall how I once rode her to the many ports of the World but how my life is now confined to this one horizon.