moonlight, sea, waves-4784379.jpg

Moonlight At Sea

This is the very first drambling I’m writing for this wee whisky website of mine. Because of its novelty, I thought I’d give a quick heads up before diving in. This is not a review of any kind. Moonlight At Sea is just a short story, that I dreamed up while sipping some good whisky.

For this drambling, I chose to share a story that a few sips of Talisker 10 once told me. Please keep in mind that even though the whisky is real, the story itself is completely fictional. It has no other relationship to the whisky other than being the muse of this drambling of mine. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is also entirely coincidental.

Moonlight At Sea A Talisker 10 Drambling

An old ship sailing in the moonlight, at sea. Capturing the atmosphere of the story.

Although Aidan could easily find his way back into the harbor blind, drunk, and with his back turned towards the shore… tonight none of these things applied. The full moon shimmered brightly on the breaking waves, showing him the path home to his loving wife. Where he knew, that even though it was the dead of night, she’d still be waiting for him in front of the fireplace. Keeping the fire roaring, so he could warm his cold and weary bones. Though it was not the fire, but her he was truly longing for. For tonight, he needed to warm his soul.

The day had started out lovely. The sun shone brightly, and a soft breeze had allowed him a smooth sailing out. And in the distance, he had even spotted a bob of seals. Which nowadays was becoming a rare sight. The loud orchestra of naval warfare had driven them off. And the army’s plundering of sea life (to feed its hungry troops) made sure that most of them never returned. Aidan had taken their appearance as a sign of hope. Hope that life might once more return to the calm serenity of peace time. That had been a mistake, holding on to hope knowing it would just lead to disappointment. But even without that hope, nothing could have prepared him for what happened next.

When the war had started, several years ago, Aidan had picked up his old ways of smuggling once more. Though this time not for personal benefit, but to make sure the isle’s young’uns at least had some small scraps to eat. Over the years Aidan’s wife Brenna had made sure the rogue seafarer in him had faded. You could even say that she transformed him into (what Brenna liked to call) a big ol’ teddy bear. Not being able to have children of their own, they had swiftly changed their ideas of having a family home into starting the isle’s first foster home.

Instead of begging on street corners and being chased of by constables for most of the day, the kids had found a loving home. Auntie Brenna (as the kids liked to call his wife) provided them with warmth, care, and a hot meal before getting to sleep in a real bed. Grumpy Gramps (the kids did not agree with Brenna about Aidan being a teddy bear) taught them about hard work – on his fishing boat – and how to face the harshness of life. And though they had given him a harsher nickname than his wife, he knew none of them loved him any less for it. They all realised it was Aidan that provided the roof over their heads, and him that taught them how to build a life for themselves someday.

But then the war had started, it had ravaged the already barren land. Food became scarcer, life became harder, and the only sure way most boys could provide for themselves was to join the war effort themselves. Aidan had seen three of his boys sail off, looking to create that roof over their heads he had always told them about. And though he never wanted them to look for it this way, he couldn’t blame them for wanting to make it on their own. Joining the army guaranteed they’d always be fed. But, they also got to set aside a penny to start a family of their own someday (once the war was over). But Aidan still watched them leave with a leaden heart. Because as their “Grumpy Gramps” , he cared about their safety above all. Like any father would for their own.

When Aidan could no longer feed his foster kids, he converted his old fishing boat so that it could ship coal. Coal that he transported to the war camps, where they used it to keep their lieutenants’ snug and warm. His boys that were stationed there would then hide some leftover cabbages, potatoes, and loafs of bread in a hidden compartment underneath the floor. That Aidan then smuggled back home. The load was always easy to conceal, as it was never more than a modest haul. And by sweeping some leftover coal dust on top of the secret compartment, no one had ever found out. But somehow, over the past few weeks, that had changed. Because that morning when he walked into camp, he saw his boys hanging from the gallows.

It was like the world collapsed on top of Aidan, and crushed him to his core. He wanted to scream, and fight everyone inside the whole camp. If only he could. He wanted to tear whoever was responsible to shreds. But instead, he just stood there, frozen. These three young boys had never given him up. Not till the very end. He was still standing there after all, unsuspected of anything. Free to sail in and out of port. And even the ones that saw him standing there frozen, seemed to assume it was because he had never seen a hanging person before. So, Aidan buried his anger. Though it took all the strength, in every fiber in his being, just to do so. But he did it because he knew that if he lost it now, their sacrifice would have been for nothing.

He told himself to keep going, to keep selling his coal and at the same time find another source of food. Because those boys had not done it just for him, they also did it for their Auntie Brenna and for their brothers and sisters. The family that was left needed Aidan now more than ever, and he needed them. He needed to get home, as quick as he could. To hold them in his arms again.

So, he sent a carrier pigeon to his wife telling her he’d be home one day sooner. He wrote her he needed her, but also to ask her to never ask him what happened that day. He knew that his wife and foster kids had been through enough in life, and they did not need another burden to wear their conscience down. But Aidan vowed to himself to never forget what those three boys did. How they protected the home of their siblings till the very end. To honor them Aidan would do the same, just like he had before and for as long as he could draw a breath.

When he finally arrived home, he couldn’t stop himself from running to the front door. Brenna saw him coming and as she caught him in an embrace, he couldn’t stop the tears from falling. But thankfully, Brenna knew not to ask. She just gathered him up and settled him down by the fire. Where she poured him a dram of whisky that he slowly sipped while sobbing in her arms. Many hours and multiple pours of whisky passed, and finally Aidan spoke to his wife. He thanked her for the whisky and told her it reminded him of the ocean, of the ships sail that sail there and sometimes perish. A place often harsh and stormy. But also, a place where voyages made could leave a legacy that would never be forgotten.

With the passing years, Brenna and Aiden never once spoke about that night. But she always knew to put out a bottle of whisky by the fireplace, when the moon shimmered on crashing waves at night.

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