Paying the ferryman

My boat is ready, when they come in groups. Orphans, elderly, unshaven men and teenage girls.

The mica in their eyes reflect the river; fear; but in their hands they clutch my fee. But there are those I leave behind. They sleep in tents, and call for help.

They try in vain to trade their goods for coins.

I have a small collection, bribes and trinkets, and my bed is always warmed by girls, believing they can melt my granite soul.

I am Charon and my fee is fixed, and worse than Hades is the nothingness of being left behind.

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The image put me in the mind of Charon, and the river Styx. Somehow I wanted the fee to traverse the river being similar as the human traffickers who live as parasites of the misery. Alas not a happy and uplifting piece this week either. I think my prose fell back to poetry this week….

Friday Fictioneers is a blogging group who writes to the same photo every week. We are all working under the leadership of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who in addition to manage this group is successful as an author. Join us.

March 16, 2016

100 responses to “Paying the ferryman

  1. Dear Björn,

    A rather grim piece, but well done. The comparison of human traffickers to Charon is stunning.


    P.S. Thank you for the kudos and the extra ‘s’ in Wisoff. 😉

  2. His granite temperament grinds through this piece. I saw the allusion quickly and it made the piece even more dramatic. Well done.

  3. Loved this Bjorn. It’s right, the mythology works brilliantly when used to illustrate the terrible things people traffickers get up to and how their victims suffer.

  4. I have never heard of Charon. I think I might be afraid to research though so I will just take your word for it that he is a bad dude, especially if he is similar to a human trafficker. Well done. I was creeped out!

  5. Yes – we were both thinking along the same lines this week! I love this – so beautifully written, and about a chilling subject. ‘My bed is always warmed by girls’ was a very poignant line.

  6. My immediate thought when I saw the title was of the river Styx, but then as I read, images of the influx of Syrian refugees came to mind as well. And I have to wonder which is worse. Quite powerful interpretation of the photo.

  7. Brilliant piece of work, Björn. Again.
    You juxtaposed the reality with the myth beautifully.

  8. I saw the trafficking first and only later ‘got’ Charon in there. It shows how timeless these old stories are, and how little humans change. Sad and tragical. Wonderful writing.

  9. This was amazing. I loved the dark and unapologetically honest narrative. The final sentence was stunning and chilling.

  10. “melt my granite soul” that’s beautifully expressed. The comparison between Charon and human traffickers is indeed an excellent one.

  11. Wow! Twist and twist again Super take on the prompt, Bjorn. In fact, and I’m glad you included it, the Chris Deburgh song popped into my head as I was reading it. One of the greats — and a good story to go with it (or is it the other way around?).

  12. This is masterful how your story mirrors the horror of human trafficking. He has such power and seems so smug and detached about leaving them behind. Well done, Bjorn. As always.

  13. Wonderful use of Greek mythology (something I love to use — I recall using Charon in a story last year, but it was quite different from this)! What a bleak, bleak vision.
    I loved it, of course!

  14. The voice of Charon—crisp, stony, unwavering—feels as fixed as his soul. The precision of the language is lovely. I particularly enjoyed the specificity of the list of people who came to him. Such a chilly story; very powerful. Thank you.

  15. Oh, I got it, even without your notes. Wonderful writing on a very troubling issue.

  16. This is such a moving parallel – and so apt. Wonderful use of details to bring the character of the ferryman, and his modern equivalent, to life.

  17. How terrible to think you’re going to a place like that. The soul wouldn’t be alive or dead. As one author I read put it, “I want to be me.” Well written, Bjorn. You’re great with metaphors, with description. — Suzanne

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