On the Ice

Five weeks, four days.

The ice groans and shrieks like a steam engine from hell, and the near-continuous creaking of the ship has begun to be interspersed with gunshot sounds of planks cracking in two from the pressure. The lower deck is nearly full of water now, and it is only a matter of time until the rest of the ship is in the same condition. We are slowly being crushed like an insect in a child’s hands.

Five weeks, four days, of no headway through the ice, and now I know we must abandon this ship, with or without approval from the captain. To remain on board is insanity and suicide.

When was the last time I saw you? I remember when I shared your bed, how you were still asleep when I left, your dark hair fanning out over the pillow like a halo made of black silk and beads of onyx. But that wasn’t the last time. Neither was it on the day we left port, you standing on the seawall in the red dress and broad-brimmed hat that I’d brought you from Spain at the beginning of that summer. When was the last time I saw you, my love?

Three days ago.

Three days, out on the ice, in your same dress and hat, at the top of a snow-covered hill on the floe, on a day where the wind was raging and stinging the heart of me even under two coats, boots, muffler and helmet. The finest gear the Expedition could procure and I am nearly frozen unto death at every moment outside of the ship, and yet you stood calmly in a summer dress and demonstrated no discomfort whatsoever.

I know that I am going mad. This is why tomorrow I am leaving this ship, leaving and making for the open sea somewhere behind us. To stay here is to waste away, moment by moment, until I am as hard and cold as stone in a place where even my spirit would not be able to break free. To stay here is to surrender.

I could not discuss my plan with every remaining member of the crew, not without calling attention to ourselves. Of the five men I spoke with, all of them have agreed with me on this course of action. We are going to take a lifeboat and what provisions we can carry, and pull it across the ice heading eastward until we come to the water, however far that may be. I don’t know if the captain will proclaim us mutineers or not, but I am of the belief that we have passed the point where the rules of the sea are still applicable.

It is madness to go, but it is also madness to stay.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *