April 12, 2020. RISK

‘Risk’ by Conal Gilliland

‘Clarice of the Sea’ by Kevin Koivisto

            Ah, now, that is just plain unfair¸ Clarice thought as the boat finally keeled over and sent her somersaulting into the water. It had been a large wave that finally did it, one last breath from the dying storm that she and the two-man crew had so bravely fought till then. Well, mostly the two had. They were missing a mast by then, as well as all other kinds of boat bits she hadn’t bothered to learn the names of (Shaftern? Cleavert? There was something called a thwart, for sure). She got the sense that for the last half hour the two burly men were moving about only to make her feel a little less terrified, so that it seemed they could still do anything. At that point, always the excellent reader of body language that she was, she surmised the boat was a sitting duck. Or a floating duck. A flightless floating duck.

            She felt a little responsible, probably because she most assuredly was entirely responsible for the whole ordeal. It was her money that had been placed in those rugged palms, on that dock in Bermuda, and it was by her orders and her maps that they had moved. One of those maps now swam past her head, in the tumultuous current, floating away with bubbles like some sort of exotic fish. Well, good riddance. What good had it done. Besides,she didn’t need it without a boat anyway.

            The sailors had been reluctant, so she didn’t even have a defence there. Clarice knew the risks, but only the two sailors cared about them. None of the enticing rewards of what she could possibly find interested them. Only cold hard cash. Quite a lot of it, in fact. More than she could afford. But she was willing, because she knew the exact amount of bounty available if they could just reach that one deserted island.

            The storm itself came out of nowhere, like an uninvited guest to a dinner party. It reminded Clarice of her ex. He too had a knack of ruining perfect evenings with gyration.

             Presently, she had little clue where the surface was, but kept swimming regardless. Eventually she’d reach the surface, or at least the bottom, or Cuba, or, if she was really unlucky, Florida. Shapes whirled and floated past her but she couldn’t make out anything definite. There was no sound except muffled sloshing and the rain.

            Eventually, she broke through something, so that she could hear, and air finally entered her lungs. The capsized boat bobbed along with the waves a long distance away. One of the men was helping the other onto it. She yelled for help but they were too far away, her voice muffled by the wind and the rain. There was a box, a mix of metal and plastic, floating empty beside her, that look buoyant enough. She grabbed onto it to so she could save her strength. The water was choppy, (Was that the right term? She’d heard someone use it about water before.) but not too bad. Not as bad as it had been only minutes before. She called out again, but the boat drifted further.

            Clarice must’ve passed out eventually, unless she had somehow gained the ability to teleport, as the next time she looked up the boat was gone, as was most of the other assorted pieces from it. Also she wasn’t moving anymore. Looking to her right, she saw that the box she was still holding onto had wedged itself onto a sandy beach. Of an island.

            Clarice jumped up and almost fell back down, her legs having little strength. Could it be? The shape of the island definitely looked right, and it was just the right size. All she needed to do now was find the wreck.

            She limped around the beach to the other side of the island, looking for any signs of the thing. It would be pretty big, hard to miss – a-ha! A pitch black steel container, the size of a large van, with INDASCorp boldly written on it. This had to be it. The sheer luck!

            After finding a big enough rock to smash open the lock on the door, she swung it open, and rummaged inside. It was hard to see without a light, but there was only a small package in there that she quickly stumbled upon. She brough it outside into what was now bright sunlight to open. An unremarkable wooden box, with no lock on the latch. She swung it open with trembling hands. There, sitting on an violet velvet cushion, was the largest diamond she had ever seen. She picked it up and ditched the box, letting the stone glitter in the sun. Then she screamed with joy, jumping up and down, and shouted insults at all those that had underestimated her.

            “Take that, Director Stevens, and your stupid rescue party for being too slow! By the way, thanks for dumping this on international waters, so that I own it now, SUCK IT. Also, screw you mom and dad, you never believed in me, never supported me, not when I wanted to be a photographer, or even when I started dancing, and especially not now that I’m RICH. Ha! Well! Guess who’s never buying you a single thing with all the fortune I’ll get for this!” She waved the thing over her head joyously and continued shouting to her many imaginary doubters.

            “And my so-called friends, who were “concerned” for my “mental stability” and didn’t want to come along, well, guess what? YOU’RE NOT GETTING ANYTHING, EITHER! Neither are you, Brad¸ no matter how much you work out to impress me, Brad. No matter how much money you make at your stupid accounting firm, it won’t be enough for me to want you back, Brad. How do you like that, eh, BRAD? And to every sailor who doubted me, when I was trying to get you to drive your ship, or sail it, or WHATEVER, who refused, well, look at this! Because you sure ain’t getting a piece of it, no matter what you do, I don’t care where you sail…your…boat.”

            Her arms fell at her side. She stared at the horizon. Soon the diamond fell too, and sank with a dull thud into the sand. Everything was silent but the breeze in the palm trees. There wasn’t another island in sight. Nor any boats. In fact, as far as she knew, this whole place was well off any sort of fishing or shipping route. A place where nobody had any interest to go.

            And no one knew she was here.

            Those two sailors sure weren’t going to talk, they didn’t care. They were probably pretty angry that she’d broken their boat, if they were still alive, if they figured she might’ve survived. They wouldn’t look for her, or tell anybody. They already had her money.

            Clarice was stuck. No one would come to help. She looked down at the rock by her feet. And that’s all it was, with no one to sell it to. A shiny rock.

'Risk' by Mikhaila Fitzpatrick
a ringing in my ear,
This choice that must be made
can go either way.

The feeling is not good,
The weight it too great, 
To do what must be done,
Please let there be fate.

What’s that?
A wind behind my back!
My hand is being taken.
I am finally awaken. 
‘Risk’ by Henri Syrjö
'they're too greedy' by Linda M. Crate
essential employees
don't want to be sacrificial lambs,
but society didn't ask us
what we wanted;

politicians insist our lives
are all right to put at risk—

that our families, our lives, our dreams,
and our aspirations don't matter;
in essence the only thing that matters is how
much money than can make off our backs
and how much they can afford not to give us

my company threw a dollar at us
like that wasn't an insult
to injury—

they want us to give it our all,
but they don't want to give us anything in return;
all i want them to do is close the store

they could leave the pumps on and let us all
stay safe at home—

they're too greedy.
'A Riskless Endeavour' by M.A.A.
"Take a step," he said,
"Take a look down below,"
a deep granite abyss, opening a lone ridge,
Quite a deep fall, I admitted with a slight wince,
"Now, think what a mighty leap of faith it would be,
if it was to be flooded, all up to our knees!"
Barely a step, no risk in adding some water,
no harm in turning some ravine into a grove,
a riskless endeavour, that much is surely true.
"Hah, awfully easy answer, and slightly rude,
what about our dear abyss, what about the fall,
your green covets would violently close them all,
the reason being a mere hope of seeing green,
do you now see what a leap of faith it would be..."
But closing few unwanted doors is not a risk,
for we have already seen it, although in haste,
witnessed its finely laid ties to this canyon’s clique,
witnessing merely a fall into nature's wastes,
already taken a look - and that's all it says.
"Well, go and shut this intimidating domain,
its many ruins still celebrating their age,
but absolutely no step can be taken back,
sure, the small risk of falling down will be no more,
but as you push it away, few pieces will stay
to float up with the cleansing waters you have made,
pieces of the abyss will then roam in the grove,
chasing you still, but this time without chance for trade,
and as you take another step into unknown,
they will wait for you
to deliver something true."
‘A Leap of Faith’ by M.A.A.

‘Contemplating Risk’ by Harrie Costello

“What’s life without risks?” Howie asked me. He always comes out with these kind of phrases. I don’t think he means to be so profound when he says them but he often leaves me wondering when he poses the question.

It’s a very valid question and it forces me to think about the risks that I am so unwilling to take at the moment, battling with my biggest enemy, my own fear. I’m really bad at that, just even opening the door to discussing the risks I so pigheadedly bury, even just with myself. I tend to make like the ostrich and stick my head in the sand, but always eventually have to come up for air, and face the music. The two biggest fears I have, is letting my music be heard and putting myself on a stage with my band, and falling in love, or more specifically, finding it. Two very big fears with two very different reasonings.

The band thing is more than your standard stage fright and failure. I love making music, and I’m not very good at much else. I could spend days tirelessly recording and rewriting and replaying tunes and lyrics and motifs over and over, scribbling notes and destroying staves waring my fingers thin and tired from guitar strings and piano keys. I’ll muster the willpower to shovel jar after jar of putrid manuka honey down my throat just to breathe the words that find that one feeling, or hear that perfect harmony and send the one private message that everyone can hear. I want it to spread like wildfire, I want to be the one that someone distracts themselves with, or the one that reminds someone of their fondest memory. I want to be the one they celebrate to or the one they make or fall in love to. I want to be the voice on the radio as they drive up the mountains, or the one on the speaker blaring through the train carriage, being sung along to on the way to the beach. I want be in your headphones on the bus as the sun rises and the writer of the verse you religiously recite after chips at 3am after another drunken night out. Its selfish but I want that privilege, but with it comes so much responsibility and we get one shot. In my head, that’s a fairly

understandable fear, but it consumes me sometimes. I dreamed of it since I can remember. I want to hear a thousand voices sing my song back to me as I stand there with the people that brought our idea and dreams to life, stare me back in the face with sheer love and disbelief. I want to be that for them, and be there with them and share that love for those moments. That love and unity that we could create, that brings so many strangers into a family they never knew they needed to be part of, no matter how long it lasts.

Now that love is a different kind of love. I don’t fear that love, just the steps I have to take to get it. I’m afraid of finding or never finding love. I feel like we all are but I wonder if everyone feels like they have a certain duty to please some people with the kind of love they want. I do, I feel like mine has to be approved, yet I still don’t really know what I want. I don’t think I know “that” love, but I know different kinds and I’m not sure if what I want is so fa-fetched that it can’t be. 21 years isn’t a long time I know, but I feel like I should have a better idea.

Instead of continuing on about what I don’t know, I reckon it’ll be of more use to list what I do know. I know I feel alone, and that’s because I am but it’s a tangible loneliness. I listen to the birdsong in the morning with no one. I pull the curtains and smell my roses first thing to fill a void that I’m not entirely sure is even there. I read the same poem stuck to my wardrobe door every morning with hands on hips, about lovers and excitement and fulfilment. There’s only one toothbrush on ledge and one scent of peony that lingers on my bedsheets.

I think deeply about what a partner would be like in general. The aspect is foreign to me really, and previous lovers make it feel like it was pretend. I look back on them through a dissociative lens, but not an emotionally removed one. I analyse it. I mould myself to fit an expectation. I don’t know who made or enforced that expectation sometimes, him or me. Even the thought of that confuses me. The back and forth. I feel like burying my head now. I sometimes blame my  parents, specifically my father. I never realized how important it was so have a relationship model, any model at all really, to see how people live together and mor eimportantly, love together. I haven’t seen one in action. The extent of my parents relativity is as follows; they lived in the same house and called the same people their children. That’s it, there was no relation, just frustration. A loveless relationship at least teaches you what you don’t want, but for me I don’t need a process of elimination. I need specifics. We all want it to be just like it was in the movies and sometimes I let myself think that that’s ok. It’s good to dream, but my that cynical and frightened part of my mind always raises the shield eventually. No expectations then results in no disappointment.

I laugh, as a devout Dickinson fan, I feel like I am her sometimes. In love with my art and destined to be alone as I gradually descend into madness. After all, I did always like the idea of being at my own funeral. I feel like romance was the funeral in my brain. I see it and I think I want it, but I really want my own kind. We all do realistically but mine just feels so unobtainable. I think there’s something wrong with me sometimes. I also want to have the capacity to give the love I receive. Whilst she gave me funerals for things I didn’t know I needed to grieve, Dickinson also gave me hope, in the form of the thing with feathers, that perches in my soul, and sings MY song without the words and I really don’t want her to stop, ever, at all.

'A Risk Taken' by S.J. Saighead
The blue lights below signal catastrophe
for warm bodies and sharp minds not known to me.
The sound of sirens hang in the night air
our roads are empty, great runways bare.
The times are strange, you’ll hear no denying,
there’s no longer normal, no point in trying
to return to an age before all went wrong
when we gathered in pubs, connected in song.
Eventually we’ll emerge, once sickness has passed
and hope for this wonderful freedom to last.
But the world we left has died in the cold,
we could not have noticed, we were too bold.
Will we long for times gone, as we do now?
Will we hold on to more hope than hope will allow?
Alone they lived, 6ft around.
Alone they die, 6ft below ground.
This is a strange time, there is no doubt.
We scrambled inside, but what was left out?

Published by artisticdifferencescurator

My name is Seán and I am the creator and curator of the Artistic Differences Project. I started this project during the lockdown in Ireland due to COVID-19 in March 2020 as a way to get my friends and I creating during a troubling time. From there the project as gone from strength to strength and now we publish a new exhibition every two weeks.

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