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To Reach the Place of Departure

By Catarina Baptista
Translated by Sara Fernandes

Today I’m going to change things up and start with the end. Is that okay?


I could start at the beginning, but it’s not that different from the ending of this narrative.


You know when you go watch a movie and already know what’s going to happen? Do you watch it anyway or not? Well, even though the main character received spoilers a long time ago, the story continues.


Here it is.


It’s about the captain of a boat. At first, she sailed slowly, but, day after day, the boat moved further into troubled seas, and, because of that, the captain was gradually losing control of the steering. She of all people, who had always known how to sail in open waters.


Nonetheless, she kept going. ‘Why?’, you ask.


She saw land on the horizon, the destination that waited for her at the end of the journey.


But it wasn’t the end. It was the start.


She wanted to stop sailing. She didn’t want to reach that place of departure, but the troubled seas controlled the boat as if it had its own will.


I don’t know if you have figured out the end by now, but the captain, who thought she was strongly holding the helm, had reached the place she didn’t want, although her arrival was already predicted.


She knew the map, and the x that marked the land had been there for far too long. Still, she went.


Sailing.

Sailing.

Sailing.


In a boat that she steered, alone.


Was the destination bleak or was it the solitude of this journey that made it so?


Eventually, she got there. And from there set sail. Once more.


But not alone.


She left accompanied: by herself.


She didn’t carry a compass. A compass points to the North. And she didn’t want to reach it, even though she had.


Why? Why did she reach that cardinal even though she didn’t carry a compass?


Sometimes, she thought, the sea takes us through bigger waves, so we learn that land is after them.


In the end, she concluded that this compass didn’t point to a place. It pointed to the horizon.


The horizon, although far, was always in sight. The more she tried to get close to it, the more she realised she couldn’t reach it. So, once she arrived at the destination, she left. (I started at the beginning after all.)


She left.


She never looked back.


But the x marked on the map, that stayed.

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