The Snowman

“In the darkness the engines sputtered and the boat shuddered and then there was only the lapping of the waves. The refugees on board, crammed to the brim, knew that many had died on that stretch of the ocean between the Colombian coast and the Darién Gap. The smugglers inspected the engines, made phone calls, shrugged. They shared no language with their cargo. In the silence the refugees began to pray, the Muslims, the Christians, the Nepalese, lifting their voices in a jumble of aspirations, when from under the surface of the waters a beast with an enormous back – some kind of whale or snake? – brushed against the side of the boat. The refugees let out one countryless scream.”

Stephen Marche – Tortoise – August 2019