THE FIRST memory I have of my grandfather is of a moment that we share together.
I’m sitting on his knee looking out over the harbor. Grandpa is smoking a pipe. He points at the horizon. “Look, Walt. Our ships are out there. And one day, another even more beautiful ship will appear at the horizon. A mighty ship to take us all away.”
“Where to, Grandpa?” I ask curiously.
He remains quiet. “No one knows exactly,” he says at last, “but that doesn’t make it any less fantastic. One day, that ship will come in. And Annabelle will be on the prow with open arms, inviting us all to come on board.”
The Goddess with black hair waving in the wind, as portrayed on the biggest wall of our temple.
“Why don’t we sail to her ourselves?” I want to know.
“Because she promised she would come,” Grandpa replies. “And in that promise we trust. It’s only the Unbelievers who think they can do everything themselves. They have no faith in the Goddess.”
I was only five, but I still clearly remember feeling a cold shiver running through my body after hearing that last remark. Most children in Hope Harbor are scared of the stories their parents tell them about the Unbelievers: if you don’t visit the temple every week, they will get you in your sleep. If you don’t listen to the priests, they will send you out into the wilderness behind the Wall where the Unbelievers dwell, their robes of black and masks of horror a sure sign of their sinfulness. Once they sink their claws into you, there’s not a chance you will ever return.
But that was then.
I know better now – because I’ve been there, and yet I am still alive.
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