On deck with Rebecca

The trouble with lost is you’re lost.

“Captain,” she says, repeating, “Captain.” How long has she been calling me? I am a heap of rag on the deck. The ship sails smooth through open water. Small lappings, lift and plunge. The crew have the ship in hand, there is wind in the sail, but where are we headed?

On all sides it is the same, gray water, pale sky. You could look forever and see nothing. What is there to get your bearings by?

I could sink into despair, but Rebecca is watching.

She hands me a pearl, places it into my hands, cups them around it. It is not the moon, but it remembers the moon to me. Something lifts and stirs in me, something scents the air.

Rebecca sees the change and is satisfied. “Wash up and ready yourself. Soon it will be dark and there will be stars to read.”

I am so relieved to remember the stars – the fixedness of them in this place without landmark. The reliability of them. That vast perspective.

A curl of wind drops a leaf onto the deck between us, an impossible thing, inexplicable. I lift it, rub the tenderness of it gently between my thumb and forefinger. It leaves a bright citrus smell in my hand. I give the leaf to Rebecca in exchange for the pearl. She nods, accepting. It will give hope to the crew.

Wherever we are, land is just this leaf’s journey away.


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