There was not a wave as far as he could see that morning. The boat sailed lazily across the stillness, painting white stripes in the blueness that otherwise seemed to occupy everything. He stood in the bow and wondered about the time that had drifted. He felt a sting in his body, one in his knee and the other in his heart.
He knew one was real and the other a figment of his emotional state. His knee always hurt when he was feeling vulnerable. He imagined he had inherited the trait from his grandfather who claimed that whenever he was feeling blue his ears started to sing songs that weren’t real. He placed a white pill under his tongue and continued to stare out at the ocean.
There was a vulnerable, melancholic joy in the day. A joy that he knew he would be robbed of if he just turned and looked back. If he saw the shore behind him. He knew he would hear her laughter echoing through eternity if he ever looked back. He would hear her quick steps on the wooden floors and he would look to see but there would be no one there.
He would hear her voice and he would almost feel her tiny hands around his neck, feel her soft kisses like a breeze brushing his beard. And he would never be able to stand up again. He would remember her dark straight hair and her beautiful brown eyes and he would be forever lost to the memory of her.
The little girl lost.
The blue ocean was what he needed to focus on. The blue ocean and the cerulean sky, the familiar fluffy reminded him of the white marshmallows she would insist on having whenever they used the grill. The ocean, the waveless sea and the inviting eternal skies. That was all there was, that was all there ever had been.
Her soft voice inviting him to play, then insisting and then her tears when things didn’t go her way. These tears would be welcomed now.
He saw a single mockingbird quickly flying towards the shore. He wanted to follow it with his eyes but he knew what waited him back there. The snake haired medusa would still him in his tracks, stone him and he would be forever lost. He couldn’t look back. Never look back. His stony skin would break into a thousand pieces.
But he was already broken, and the pieces would scatter over the continents, over time and he would seize to exist, just like she had.
And maybe that would be for the best but something in him still stared out at the blueness, at the fluffy white clouds he tried to see as elephants or castles or white bunny rabbits but no matter what he saw in the clouds the thing reminded him of her.
Her voice calling for him. The desperation in her voice echoed in the stillness of the world, echoed in the sound of the boat floating forward into the sunrise. The image of her lying on the ground, broken, gone.
He didn’t see the blueness in the tears that fell to the floors of the ship. He couldn’t feel them flowing over his bearded cheeks. He only felt the desperate sting in his knee.
And then the mockingbird sat down on the rail in front of him. It appeared to look at him, contemplate something and then it flew up into the air and back towards land again. His eyes betrayed him. Unwittingly they followed the bird towards the shore, his head and body followed suit and soon he was facing the shore again. Looking backwards, the way they came. The white stripes on the ocean following the boat. The harbour and the empty shore.
Her broken eyes echoing in the mountains above the city.
She played by the water. The lake was still and you could almost see the entire forest on the other side of the lake in the reflection in the water. Her mom sat on the patio, drinking white wine out of a tall glass and she sighed pleasurably, the way only a grown up can sigh, as if having good time was something rare and unexpected.
The boat she was playing with had an old hemp string tied to it. She let it drift out and then pulled it violently back. She giggled as the small waves hit her feet. The boat was rather big and it sailed well but she didn’t want to let it go.
Her dark hair flew around her head as she let the boat flee and then ran back to the beach with it. It tilted to the left and right and water splashed over the small figures tightly glued to the ship. She especially liked the man in the starboard bow. He looked sad, as if he wanted to be far away and she liked that he was on a boat that could possibly sail to all the corners of the world.
She let the ship drift forward one more time, then pulled the string so it flew back towards her, wetting the jeans she had pulled up to her knees. He had a beard, the man on the boat but otherwise he looked a lot like her dad. He had been tall and blond and she remembered he had always had sad eyes, even when he was laughing.
She bowed down and gently patted the figure on its little head. Then she smiled and untied the hemp string.
“Farewell” she said and then she pushed the boat into the lake and watched it sail away. It made white stripes in the water then it slowed down but still drifted further and further away.
“Goodbye sailor, see you on the other side” she said. She splashed in the water for a little while before she went back to the house to get some orange juice and a cinnamon roll. It had always been her dads favourite combination. Or so he had said.
“There is nothing like orange juice and cinnamon rolls” he’d said, “remember that”.
She always would.