The Wiles of Poseidon

Photo by Max Ablicki.

Do you believe in destiny? I don’t. Or, at least, I didn’t think I did when I was staring down at the green water below me and pondering the legend of Poseidon. It was then that a wave crashed against the rocks, sending a white spray into the air and leaving the water below slightly foamy. I looked on in admiration as the water level started to drop, but when I looked up, I saw a wave coming in. A big one. As the water below started to churn and fold in on itself, I finally realized what was about to happen. I tried to run, but the rock beneath me was smooth from years of weathering and I was standing in a puddle. If I were to run, I would certainly fall and hurt myself. It was too late. I stood my ground, hoping that God would do what he did for Moses and part the sea around me.

With a thunderous crash, the wave hit the rocks below me. As if the ocean had some score to settle with me, a wall of white water flew into the sky, exactly where I was standing. I was powerless as the water engulfed me. The water hit the stone underneath me with a loud splash, and everything was calm again. Calm, that is, until the people around me saw how drenched I was, fully clothed, and began to laugh. Maybe next time I need to carry a staff to do what Moses did with the Red Sea.

Later I stand on the balcony of our sixth-floor hotel room wringing out my socks. I finally got the chance to shower the salt off my skin, and I’m happy to be dry for the first time in hours. The street glows in an orange light. Apart from the Arabic written on the storefronts and the mosque on the hill in the distance, you wouldn’t be able to tell Rabat apart from any city in the US. The sounds of cars driving by and the occasional beep of an impatient driver are the only noises to be heard—until a door slides open on my left.

A man steps onto his balcony two rooms down from mine. I smile and say “Salaam.” He smiles back and says something I can’t hear, putting his hand over his heart and bowing his head. I do the same. We’re both enjoying the view, though I’m no longer wringing out my sock. Over the sound of traffic, he turns to me and says in broken English, “Want to jump?” My hearing isn’t the best, and I’m unsure that I understood him correctly, but I panic anyway. “No jump! No jump!” I say loudly, waving my arms emphatically. He smiles and returns to his room. I let out a sigh of relief, and return to wringing my socks out.

Yes, I might have misheard or misunderstood him. There’s a good chance that the man was just making a joke. Or maybe he thought I wanted to jump and he was trying to tell me not to. But from my perspective, it certainly seemed like my friendly words of encouragement talked him out of plunging six floors to his demise. It felt like I did something good. And I never would have been on that balcony to save a desperate man’s life if Poseidon hadn’t unleashed his wrath on me.

Shawn Pilling is an Applied Mathematics major at the University of New England.

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