“Dip your toes in the water” she spoke, almost a whisper, like a prayer to a mere mortal. The warm July wind hummed across the the Cote d’Azur, singing softly through the trees. He stared pensively to the blue, hesitant to offer any response. Still, she prayed once more:
“Dip, just try it, dip, dip your toes in the water”. Her call was sweet, and despite her beauty, she was no siren, there was no temptress tone in her words.
The pain was still too great. The fear, crippling. For dipping would lead to heels, heels to which his head would fall over too quickly.
Her soft fingers traced down his sunbrown back. Sand stuck to his lightly sweated neck. Flinching, he was unable to dissuade her hearts call to touch.
“Just a toe” she whispered.
His cheek flinched, the sun sparkling rays of warmth into his otherwise cold soul. His raised arm over his face no match from the glare from the blue. He shifted, nestling under the protection of the vine, shielding, as if it were, from the warmth. Her words resonated. Echoed. Bounced off the walls of his heavily guarded heart. Still, her hand gently persistent, tracing ‘eternity’ around his squared, pensive shoulders.
“One dip, it’s all I ask” sweetness permeated from her lips. He wondered, picking his salt-dried lips, wondered, wondered, wondered why. The pain gripped him around the throat one more time, angrily choking the wonder from his mind.
He remembered the cruel sea. He remembered the pain of the dark blue. The storms. The angry wind, the viscous waves. The grave of the deep reaching his angry hand to drag him down. The siren of the water, that whore, promising pleasure, leaving him shipwrecked, alone, adrift.
Still, he wondered.
She stared out across the Mediterranean. Her fingers, massaging the nape of his neck, prying the anger away from his throat. Her warm fingers. Twirling a lock. Tracing the bones of his spine. Being.
They hadn’t spoken since her proclamation in Marseilles, since he shut down, wondering why she would ruin what they had with something so reckless as love. His broken heart still clenched tight, he angered at why she would dare. Why she would be so foolish as to entrust such a thing in him. Still, her fingers lingered.
“Try me” she implored once again “Just dip your toe in, just once” her words, reassuring, her repetition comforting. He found himself inching towards the thought.
He trained his eyes on the sea. The white caps of the waves, the boats rocking like distant metronomes on the water. He felt the tempest recede inside of him. He wondered, just wondered.
“Dip your toe in the water, my darling, dip it in the water, with me” her voice once again gently persistent like the incoming tide, coming up to meet him, to meet his shore.
The storm still stirred, yet he turned, turned towards her. Her eyes deep as the blue before him, he mustered a squint and a smile
“I’ll dip my toe in the water, I’ll dip it with you”.
Image from http://swim-in-the-sea-count-the-stars.tumblr.com/post/112132247487
Je Suis Charlie. Shading your Facebook profile in the colours of the French or Belgium flag. Doing a hashtag to support the victims. Signing up for a war in a foreign country at the prime of your life.
Private Mumford, born 1894 and killed on the field of battle before his 25th birthday. I don’t know if Mumford left a wife of children, if he left a promising career or siblings. I don’t know if he was the town drunk or a scoundrel or a racist. The only information I have on Mumford is a random plate inset into a footpath on the headland at Caloundra. I know that 99 years after his death, after him storming some machine gun fire, or being obliterated by a shell, or being bayoneted by the Kaiser’s army, that the very land Mumford and his brothers fought over are once again being attacked, overrun, terrorised.
You can be cynical and say Mumford was but a small pawn in a seismic shift on the European continent some hundred years ago. You could rely on some commentators who argue that the Australian soldiers were brawlers, rapists, drunks and mercenaries. Me? I like to think Mumford signed up for war to fight for freedom for himself and his family.
I’ve been wondering what Mumford would think if he was to come back now. What would he think about the countries he marched across? About the land the blood of his brothers was spilled? About how the police in France and Belgium are now turning water cannons on their own? When a ‘March against Fear’ is cancelled due to security concerns. When parts of Paris and Belgium are now no-go zones for the indigenous population. When the press is now set upon, beaten and attacked.
It’s argued that violence is never the answer. It seems though that there’s a very prominent group at the moment who’s subscribing to the thought that violence is the answer. It seems that one group is using terror, violence and fear in a very effective manner to subjugate freedoms, prevent liberty and impose a set of values and beliefs that are literally hellbent on submission.
I think about my response to terrorism, and the response of my ‘elites’ to terrorism. I think of the talk, and the arguments that ‘diversity is our strength’, and that we need to watch what we say as to not offend anyone. I think about the endless gabfest about the triggers for extremism, about not marginalising disaffected youths, about how we all have a responsibility to make people feel welcome.
I know Mumford wasn’t in World War Two. I know he wasn’t fighting against the evil empire of Hitler, or the oppressive Soviets. I know though that Mumford was still fighting for the liberation of France and Belgium.
You know what Mumford wasn’t doing? Hashtagging his twitter with messages of support. changing his facebook photos. He wasn’t keeping his damn trap shut against tyranny, oppression and haters of freedom. No, he was probably freezing his ass off in some muddy ditch in a field in some French backwater, the Hun’s shells exploding around, machine-gun bullets whizzing overhead and mine-filled no-mans land ahead of him. Like I said before, I don’t know what kind of a man Mumford was. Was he a man of integrity? Was he a swindler? Whatever he was, when freedom was concerned, he was doing a hell of a lot more than I have.
What rights for freedom and her sister liberty have you fought for?
I know that I won’t be keeping silent about freedom and liberty. I’m thankful that, just under 100 years ago, there were guys like Mumford that fought fire with fire in the name of freedom. Fighting against the cold wind of tyranny and oppression away from his family, his home, his country.
As this evil wind blows, threatening to silence, intimidate, cause fear, what are you doing? Cowering, not wanting to cause offence, or standing up and making lives like Mumfords mean something?