It wasn’t time yet. The beach was quiet except for the firecracker sound of ice melting in the sea. The boys sat, and llistened, waiting for their fathers to yell out and break the silence that lived between the blue ice and the pale grey horizon.
When they had watched their fathers push their boats away from home, the boys pretended not to be afraid.Their fathers would be gone a month, or more, and soon there would be the sight of blood pouring from a massive and holy animal that the boys would have to help pull from the ice. An animal that seemed absurd on shore, ungainly, a quiet monster. In a few years the boys themselves would be the ones holding the harpoons and sleeping on top of the bottomless sea, waiting for distant sound and shifting weight in the depths below. By then most of their fear would be replaced by skill, and their boyhoods would be trapped in memory. They knew they’d have to pull soon, and that bright red blood would pour onto their boots and soak through the snow and ice they stood on. Their fathers would have already pierced the great creature so that its pain would have left with its life, but the smell, the impossible weight, and the death would be a beautiful, necessary tragedy. How great and terrible and wonderful they would all feel then, when it was over. Their mothers and sisters would arrive to help,using their grandmothers’ knives to cut the flesh away from the blubber.