Michael and Amaelia each held one end of the Sunfish in their arms. Each silent fixed on the task at hand and focused on the day ahead. They were climbing down from Amaelia’s grandmother’s house with a million scaled steps running right into the water. It would be worth it, though, the descent, and sore calves later. They moved without talking, each minute a step in sync. Amaelia kept thinking that the end of the day would be the best, but Michael was thinking about the beginning, each enveloped in thought of the day ahead- on the water. The inlet was filled with rocks and it was difficult to tack around them, unless you were really one of them, from the island. Well, it wasn’t really an island in the end, but they liked to call it that. They were born to do this, like salmon swimming against the current, they jumped into the frigid tidepools and sunk in the muck. The Sunfish could carry two maybe three at a time, but they liked the company of just two. Once they took the dog with them. It was a fine day and he loved being with them, that false smile created from the edge of his dog mouth greeted them cheerfully.
It was Michael who really knew how to get the mast up, like straight, and then he was able to turn the Sunfish into the wind. They headed out into the open bay a few riders behind them towing tire tubes and laughing kids splashing as the boat that towed them turned in wide circles. This was the way it should be-always- thought Amaelia: everyone having fun, not a care in the world. The water seemed a bit rough for her taste and she sat straight up, her back held awkwardly firm to brace herself from the sway and lull of the waves. They could be anyone at any time in history thought Michael and he meant it. The only difference would be the shape of their boat. He turned into the wind once more, carrying them further out. Amaelia’s grandmother’s house a gingerbread fortress at the summit of ladyfinger steps. They would live there someday, thought Michael, more sure of this than anything else. The sea told him, with the salt of so many beings that had lived before them. The air felt fresh and he could taste the saline water brazing against his lips and cheeks. He turned his gaze back and smiled at Amaelia. She looked like a movie star, her peddle pushers just a pair of rolled up jeans, she had cut short and a spaghetti strap top a faded orange.
The wind tossed them about, careless doll-like figures manipulated by invisible children cluttering up the sink with their toys. She tasted the salt and thought of all the creatures that went into the sea and never returned. They were crowded into this tunnel like space, holding ropes and mast intermittently, steadying themselves so as not to fall into each other. The sea would have its victory today, she thought. What difference could a day make? Sunset wasn’t too far away and they both looked to the west as though their thoughts had been spoken, although their lips remained still. Could she ever feel like this on land, she gasped and held the edge of the boat. Was this where she was meant to be?
Her eyes drifted again to the horizon capturing the fading light as a pinhole camera, fixing everything in focus for miles. She brushed her hair back again, turning into the wind and felt a stillness, akin to alchemy- a magic untended. She wanted him and yet, she felt so small, so young, so, helpless. In an instant, the wood began to creak, a subtle sound, yet definitely alarming as the call of rabbits chased by predators in the night- the pitch high, yet soft, penetrating. The mast was moving under her fingertips. Michael pulled her close to him just as she had recognized this, springing into action pulling her across the hollow of the boat and into the water. He swam, dragging her behind him, one nestled in the other’s arms as she was kept afloat by her life vest. She blinked as water burned her inner eyelids and she spat out the excess that had drifted into her mouth agape as she saw the mast fall, a kind of silent reckoning of the sea to man. Timber, she whispered to herself. Michael began to laugh, hysterically as he was finally able to calm his nerves, the danger having passed without consequence.
She thought he might have heard her, but it was just coincidence. CO INCIDENCE. She thought about how the word broke down, like the mast of the boat falling and Michael pulling her towards him as she had desired. But this wasn’t exactly how she had pictured it, was it? She shook her head and Michael taking this in, thought she was blaming him somehow for the mast, his face darkening, lips turning down as the ends of a bow poised for the arrow to pass beyond.
They swam to the boat, catching it and moving in silence towards the rocky shore. She wasn’t a strong swimmer and it showed; her stroke pulsing, rather than moving in a rhythmic pattern. He turned finding her barely able to make it to shore, but for the boat pulling her along behind him. They turned back just for an instant, a split second, a moment of grace. The sun was nearly at the water’s edge; the storm obscuring the pinhole view and softening the edge of one world and another. The sea had usurped this kingdom and the sun was forced to forfeit his lands to this once obsidian reflection. She bowed her head a silent reverie. And turning, she glimpsed Michael as he turned away, and she thought she saw something on his face, an expression, unfamiliar to her.