by MFC Feeley
“And the witch rowed up in a stone boat—” Lazy Brandr told the children.
“Glug, glug—I’m drowning in my stone boat! Help! Why didn’t I listen to my elders? Why didn’t I use wood or oilskin? Help me, help—”. The woman in burgundy velvets writhed on the deck. The children swarmed around her. “Feed me, feed me!” she barked. The children tossed bits of rúgbrauð into her snapping mouth. When the bread was gone, she laughed heartily and stood smoothing her skirt.
“You looked like a bedeviled seal,” complained Lazy Brandr, who had counted on the children’s rúgbrauð for his breakfast.
“Better than a witch,” she answered, slicing the air with her hands in imitation of the sharp green mountains of the approaching coast.
Lazy Brandr stood next to her. “Are you certain of that?” The girl shrugged and danced a few feet closer to the rigging. Lazy Brandr followed. He pretended to test the anchor.
“Be-fairyed maybe. Take care and a seal will chew through that rope,” she said.
“You mean ‘or’ a seal—” and with a splash she was overboard. Lazy Brandr was lazy, but he was brave. He dove after her.
The crew cursed at having to haul Lazy Brandr from the water. Everyone laughed at his story, for no one, not even the children, recalled the beautiful woman in burgundy velvet.
“And she stole your rúgbrauð? Stay here, Lazy Brandr,” said the captain, “and mind the boat while I attend my business in Reykjavik. I’ll give you a loaf for your trouble.”
No sooner had the crew and passengers surged ashore than the boat began to drift. Lazy Brandt pulled at the anchor.
The rope was chewed through.
It was a beautiful day and Lazy Brandt was not afraid. He made slicing motions with his hand and cut an image of the receding coast until he heard barking behind him. A seal, young and soft, had landed on the deck. Lazy Brandr was lazy, but he was kind. He approached the creature with the simple caution he afforded any frightened thing. The animal arched her back and opened her mouth.
Lazy Brandr tore a piece of his bread and tossed it in.
After that, Brandr was never lazy. He broke a sweat each morning and strained his muscles every night ferrying the good people of Reykjavik where they needed to go until at last he bought the business from his boss. Yet those who wished to travel in the afternoon spent hours watching the increasing population of seal pups play in the waves, for every midday Brandr bought a fresh rúgbrauð from the baker and drifted just beyond the horizon.
Love takes many forms. Lucky Brandr’s required privacy.
MFC Feeley lives in Tuxedo, NY and attended UC Berkeley and NYU. She has published in The Tishman Review, Mainstreet Rag, WicWas, The Bees Are Dead, Ghost Parachute, Plate In The Mirror and others. She was a 2016 fellow at the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and received a scholarship to the 2015 Wesleyan Writers Conference. She has been nominated for Best Small Fictions 2016 and was a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. She has been a volunteer judge for Mash Stories and Scholastic. More at MFC Feeley/Facebook.