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ADRIFT • by Andrew S. Fuller

She was the third eldest of her sisters, born weeks after N’glye and Uwtn’ylh. She showed early signs of restlessness when her lava had barely cooled, by reaching out with long jetties and peninsulas. Two season cycles later, when the last sea turtle departed her south beach, she drifted off into the night.

She traveled slowly, often against the tide. After many moons, she found her first big land, a place where crystal cliffs sang with sunlight. There she listened to an overture that lasted years, and watched the sharp orange birds that fished between their shores.

Then a pod of dolphins caught her fancy, and she moved, studied them until they were out of sight. Heading east, she encountered a land whose edges hung steeply out over the sea, with forests that grew downward. She moved along its coast, through bays and around capes, witnessing great spires of agate, beaches of spherical brocatel boulders, and twisting dunes of onyx sand. Unable to find a canal, she decided this land went on for too long, and turned south where she enjoyed the open water for a great while.

She rode a giant maelstrom until it felt repetitive. She witnessed a savage war between whales and squid. She would hold still if she saw a ship in the distance, then slide away at dark in the other direction. She spent one millennium in the cold waters of the north, fascinated by the wildness of their creatures and their subtle differences in color. She first knew love there, a young and ambitious stark white berg with deep blue edges. She warned him from the beginning that she was nomad, though they were both smitten at first. The more he whispered affection to her, the more she wanted to stay, which only made her want to leave. It filled her with despair to know that he would follow her into warmer waters, clinging to her beneath the surface. But she still went. And still she increased her speed.

Afterward, she craved anger and guarded loneliness. She sought storms. She allowed herself to be tossed by tidal waves. She preoccupied herself with shark feeding frenzies. She swallowed her lagoon, claiming that it slowed her down. One night she snuck up on a fishing boat and capsized it, then drifted just out of reach for hours, until she let the dazed crew onto her beach. When they fell asleep, she rolled, dumping them. And she fled.

She formed cragged shores and sat alone and unmoving for years, whispering to men, then wrecking their crafts. She sank beneath the water for eons, vowing not to return, and slept.

She rose, restless, with bitter hope that the world was now to her liking. She wandered, seeing birds and fish and new animals, but no more ships. She felt hollow but heavier. She returned to the place where she had been born, but her family was nowhere to be found. No shores were familiar any longer.

She wept and wailed. She drifted.

Until the day a fiery thing streaked from the sky. It plummeted and blazed across the clear blue day and splashed into the water not far off. She went to the spot and found a huge rock unlike anything she’d ever seen. He was beautiful and talked in stirring iridescence. He spoke of his home, and promised to take her there. And for the first time in her life, she followed.


Andrew S. Fuller has been writing speculative fiction for nearly twenty years, some of which has appeared in Abyss & Apex, Fantastic Metropolis, The Harrow, House of Pain, Blood Rose, and upcoming in A Fly in Amber. He lives in Portland, OR, where he reads, climbs rocks, and edits Three-lobed Burning Eye magazine.

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ADRIFT • by Andrew S. Fuller, 3.1 out of 5 based on 50 ratings
Posted on July 26, 2009 in Fantasy, Stories
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  • http://jfjuzwik.blogspot.com Joyce

    What?

  • http://www.russheitz.com Russ Heitz

    Smoothly written, but … I agree with Joyce. What are we talking about here?

  • Lucy Douglas

    I’m with you, Joyce and Russ. Lovely piece of writing, but complete gobbledygook. At first I thought we were talking about a volcano, then Earth, then a mythical goddess/Gaia type, then none of those, but since there’s no story anyhow it doesn’t really matter. I felt like a schoolkid who hasn’t done their homework after reading this, which I don’t think is the aim of fiction, Andrew. Sorry. (What do you think, Paul Freeman – I always agree with you?!)

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Yeah! A bit difficult to get a handle on this one.

    I took it to be about a leviathan, though at first it seemed to be about the birth of an island. The writing is very Old Testament style, too, and just as open to interpretation.

    It was hard going, though!

  • http://conversationsfromlandsedge.blogspot.com/ Alan W. Davidson

    I agree that it is very hard to interpret. At first I thought it refered to a whale, but it mentioned seeing a whale (and it would not live a millennium). I then thought it was an iceberg, but the creature/thing returned to where it was born.

    The vagueness of the creature aside, it was beautifully written and I think the votes cast (at this point) are being unneccessarily harsh on the writer.

  • http://teenangel.netfirms.com Jim Hartley

    This one made absolutely no sense to me. Who … or what … is “She”? I couldn’t figure it out! Throwing in weird names for the “sisters” in the first paragraph and then never using them again didn’t help, either.

    Lots of lovely descriptive writing, but describing … what?

  • R.A.S.

    I thought it was an island drifting through life, looking for its place in the world – just as we do. I think the author did a great job in giving her heart. It pulled me through to the end and I cared and wished “her” well.

    Beautifully told.

  • Jen

    I thought it was an island too and while I didn’t understand it all, I actually quite enjoyed it. I liked following her on her journy.

  • Bob

    At some point in pieces like this, the author has to play fair with his readers and pull things together – give them an “ah ha” moment that clarifies everything. That didn’t happen here.

  • Rob

    Sorry,
    When her lava had barely cooled? I was immediately put off by the impossibility of her floating around–with no explanation (Not even ‘magic’)– and then the story just sort of circled around. An island falling in love with an iceberg . . . ? I’m afraid that this one moved at a glacial pace for me.
    - Wonderful color and good logical flow. I hope to read more from this author when there’s something a little more interesting to say.

  • J.C. Towler

    Maybe if she’d been named “Atlantis” this would have coalesced for more readers? That was the image I got; a surreal island, attuned to the animate and inanimate alike. I’m not a huge fan of stories that sound like they sprung from somebody’s dream and landed unfiltered on paper.

    Best,

    –John

  • Margie

    Extremely visual and poetic. A lovely piece of Flash!

  • Debra

    I enjoyed this and found it quite poetic. A floating island, how enchanting. She was floating along selfishly until she found the rock to cling to.

  • Sharon

    I was logjammed in a flood of “she”s.

  • jennifer walmsley

    I thought this a wonderful piece. It flowed. I don’t care what ‘she’ is. She just carried me away on wondeful descriptive words.

    Does a story need explaining? Shouldn’t the reader, at times, use his/her imagination?

    In my mind she was a new island.

  • GMoney

    Weird, interesting but frustrating. I don’t mind using my imagination to interpret a story, but nothing I came up with seemed to fit! Maybe it was all just a dream?

    Still, it flowed quite nicely after the initial “wtf?” had subsided and you just went with it.

  • Dani

    Beautifully written, and I liked the originality of this piece. I found the personification quite enjoyable – I loved the post-iceberg angst. This was a captivating metaphor for all life, and if it wasn’t intended as such, it was still a lovely piece of stand-alone fiction. Well done!

  • Jenny Richards

    I think I knew her sister. Uwtn’ylh, was it? No, second thoughts that was different Uwtn’ylh. She only had one brother and he was older than her.

  • A Reader

    Is there ONE aim of fiction? Fiction exists to entertain, to relieve a burden, to tell a story, to make people think/laugh/cry/shout, to convey a truth, to tug at your brain and gut,

    It’s sad that so many people want to read a story that is handed to them on a silver platter. “explain everything to me, feed me, wipe me” — go watch some big blockbuster movie where you don’t have to think or use your imagination. for the rest of us, we will sit quietly and ponder what this (obviously) island is doing now…

  • Bob

    It’s not a personal insult to you if everyone doesn’t agree with you, A Reader. You liked this story; others found it lacking. No need to be a jerk about it.

  • GMoney

    There’s always a place for stories like this, it’s just you have to accept that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, whilst it will delight others, as can be seen by all the comments. Great – that’s what’s good about fiction – sparking debate.

    ps It’s obviously not obviously an island, otherwise people wouldn’t be questioning it (islands don’t usually sit on the water to float, if you think about it).

  • Matt Duncan

    I think, for me, the names of the sisters sent me in a certain direction. (And the fact that I know Andrew personally may have helped, though we haven’t seen each other in years.) If I had to guess her name, I’d first hazard that it might be R’lyeh.

    As in “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

    I may be wrong.

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