Alaska Short Stories

Symbols of Progress

I was convinced it wasn’t real.

I’d been warned against the powerful effects of mirage that can overtake the senses on the open waters and recalled those warnings as I watched the shape emerge from the meringue-like fog.

The retreating tide at my feet revealed treasures of glass transformed by salt and tumble, shells that once provided refuge for sea creatures, remnants of trees from afar, and any number of odd items discarded by those who no longer contrived a use for them.

The tide returned and sea foam rushed over the toes of my Xtratufs as I stood at a full-stop, wide-eyed and unable to move. I audibly exclaimed that no one had told me it was today. No one made any mention of it and now here it was, larger than life, the event I’d looked forward to for months.

I had walked the beach daily, looking out to the horizon in three directions and had seen snow, then ice and finally rolling waves that broke aggressively upon the beach.

The port-less Arctic beach that previously held small, simple treasures was filling with symbols of progress, promise, and industry. It was clear to me as suddenly as if a light had been switched on in a dark room – It wasn’t a mirage after all, this was life of a very different sort.

Barge season had begun.

Story by Maria Falvey

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