The spray hits his face as he sits on the rock, just like he’s done day after day, for the past few weeks. He’s been coming every afternoon, just after the mid-day gathering, ever since he found it; the huge, colourful carcass, basking in the sun, lying there under skies the colour of the clear waters around it.
For days, he’s sat there, admiring it from afar. It seems so immense; it’s almost inconceivable that something can be so big. His father says it’s because he’s still too little; he’s not so sure. It hasn’t moved all this time, so it’s probably not dangerous. It’s probably sleeping, or just dead. He wants to get closer, but the waters are always wild on this part of the coast. The rock is as far as he can go.
And so he sits, and he studies the silent behemoth, his eyes taking in every little detail. Every line, every dark hole, and every colourful stain, he’s almost committed to memory; unknown letters, forming sentences in some unfathomable language, telling stories from its time on the waters.
Some of the elders claim that men made it; that it came from far across the water, that it carried people in its immense bowels. But surely this can’t be. No man has built anything close to this, in his lifetime. And it came from across the water? But from where? He’s been to the great river, and he could see the other bank clear as day, although he couldn’t reach it. He can’t see anything when he looks at the sea; just water, water everywhere, and forever.
And so he sits, motionless, even as his mind races. He dreams of people harnessing this great beast, of riding it across the water, going… where? Can there really be something else out there? Another place, another village like his own, with people living together, hunting, farming, building huts, singing around the fire when the night falls? Or something different? Different people, people who work wonders, and build and ride monsters?
His father frowns when he shares those thoughts; those are stories for children, and he will soon be a child no longer. And then he is silent, and he keeps the stories and the dreams to himself.
It’s true, of course. He will be a man soon, and it will be time to let go of those foolish stories. He will have to stop visiting the rotting giant.
Soon. But not yet.
The sun is half-gone beneath the water, when he gets up. The fires will be lit, and supper will be served… and the songs will start again, just like they’ve done, day after day.