Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee
I remember being on a boat. On the North Carolina coast there’s an aquarium, except it’s off-shore on an island and you have to take a ferry to go see it. This was twenty years ago. I was with my family, mom and dad.
What stuck with me most about the ferry were the seagulls. They lapped the water like a wedding procession, lining up in their best white gowns, waiting for bread. My mom had brought a stale loaf from our kitchen. We were a whole wheat family so the bread was dark brown and balled up well in your hands.
I tossed it. The seagulls latched on. They picked the best pieces, or fought for the rest. Blinding, a blizzard, white wet snow. By the time we got to the aquarium, there was no room in my head for other memories. The seagulls are what followed me, nothing else.
A few years ago, thousands of miles distant from the NC coast, I took a different ferry, much larger, and with a few friends, from the island of Miyajima back to mainland Japan, where we had a train to catch for our Hiroshima hotel. I was beat. We’d been walking since the morning and we’d climbed a mountain. We’d watched the sky go grey and threaten summer thunderstorms from the peak. But the thunderstorms never came.
On the ferry, I mostly thought about getting older. It’s the kind of thought you have when you’re leaving a place you’ll never see again. Halfway up the mountain, I’d gotten exhausted. I had to slow down. I was with three other Americans, they were all a few years younger, and they were happy to wait for me (we took up by a stream trailing down the mountain), but I felt bad about it anyway.
Eventually, I pushed on with them and reached the peak. At the top was a rock with no railing, a sheer fall into green forest. My companions climbed the rock and let their legs hang like Christmas mistletoes, but my arms were too heavy to lift myself and my head was full of vertigo, so I sat down in some dust by the old, grey stone. I looked up at the sky and it didn’t look any different now than it had at the foot of the mountain. Gradually, as clouds came, I took to sleep.
I couldn’t have been out for more than a second, but when I woke up I saw a single black crow on a gnarled, toothless tree. It had it’s head cocked and eye bobbing like it saw me, and when I’d rubbed the sweat off my forehead and gotten myself more conscious, the crow took off, careening toward the ocean, vanishing near the water where I’d soon embark a ferry, and leave Miyajima for good.
Grey-black skies at the end of something, or white seagulls at the beginning. Always getting ferried between the two.
Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller
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I was and still am that same ship which carried me to the new shore, the same vessel containing all the memories and dreams of the child in the brick house with the toy tea set.Luisa A. Igloria