Tayy al-Arḍ

By Dale Stromberg

Common sense:
1) An enemy of reason.
2) A deliverance from the weariness of reason.

Bellatrix Sakakino was out to sea on a luxury cruise ship. Without warning, the engines stopped. “Everyone overboard,” came a public address announcement. “We have to push the ship.”

The captain, the crew and all the passengers leapt into the sea. Only Bellatrix stayed aboard, for she hadn’t finished her avocado daiquiri. From her vantage, she could see everyone swimming up against the enormous hull to push.

Some worked alone, others in groups. Some pushed mightily, others lackadaisically. Those on opposite sides of the hull sometimes pushed in contrary directions. None could know what the others were doing.

The boat shifted a bit. A little this way; a little that.

A man in the water wearing officer’s stripes hollered to Bellatrix. “Hey! Are we making progress?”

She scanned the horizon for any landmark by which to discern movement, but it was ocean in all directions. She glanced upward. There hung the moon, ashen in the afternoon, pulling the whole crushing bulk of the sea imperceptibly toward itself.

“Yes,” Bellatrix called down to the officer. “We’re moving.”

Dale Stromberg grew up not far from Sacramento before moving to Tokyo, where he had a brief music career. Now he lives near Kuala Lumpur and makes his living as an editor and translator. His work has been published here and there.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Gauche and Pen)

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