Today’s post comes from RC Bonitz, author of A Blanket for Her Heart. Each post for the next few weeks will begin with the following words- “This is it. So very simple actually. Just the end. And no one can prevent it.” See what you can do with them! Here’s RC’s version.
The smell of fresh baked muffins and rolls fills the shop as I remove the last of the blueberries from the oven. I start baking before the sun comes up and then open the shop at 6:30 when Mother comes in to help. Today I’m wired and just have to take a walk to burn off my frustration. Father presented a proposal from Henry last night, for the third bloody time. How many ways do I have to say no before they both get the message?
I plop my apron on the counter, leave the shop open so Mother can get in, and set off down the street toward the harbor. It’s a beautiful morning, the sun low in a golden sky and the sea calm with very little swell. Tourists will flock aboard the ferry boat today and we’ll be busy at the shop.
Passing Mumford’s Book Shop (owned by Patti Mumford, my best friend) and Collier’s Marine Supply (he’s at least sixty and married or Father would be pushing him at me I’m sure), I’m soon on the docks. Most of the fishing boats went out before dawn, but Henry’s is still here. He can’t be waiting for my answer? After two rejections? He’s nowhere in sight though, so maybe I can relax for a few minutes before he…
There’s a sailboat tied up at the gas dock. Someone must have come in late last night. An unusual looking boat it is, with complicated cruising rigging and a sleek modern hull I’d expect to see on a racing boat. And it looks tired and well used.
I’m about to hail the boat when the hatch slides back a little bit and then a little more. Somebody’s awake. Then the hatch board disappears below and a child sticks her head out, sees me and smiles. About six years old, she puts a finger to her lips and climbs out on the deck.
“Hi,” she says softly. “Daddy’s sleeping.”
I assume that means I shouldn’t wake the man, but that’s exactly what I’m here for. I’m the harbormaster, you see, and her Daddy needs to move that boat. The man also needs to supervise this child, or else her mother does.
“Hi. Your daddy needs to wake up. He has to move your boat,” I tell her and then I notice she’s not wearing a life jacket. Some parents are so lax with their kids. What if she fell overboard? “You need to put on a life jacket.”
She shakes her head. “I can swim.”
“You need to wear one. It’s the law,” I insist.
The hatch slides open all the way and a sleepy-eyed male head appears, his sun bleached blonde hair all askance. “What’s going on Emma?” he says.
“Your daughter has no life jacket. You need to put one on her.”
He stares at me as if I’m from another planet, “She’s a good swimmer. She doesn’t need one.”
“It’s the law. And you need to move this boat.”
“After breakfast,” he mutters, and turns to go below again.
This man is so—insufferable. Lackadaisical, arrogant, whatever. “You can’t cook at the gas dock.”
“I know that,” he shoots back and comes up to stare at me again, this time awake and alert.
“Life jacket, no cooking, move the boat,” I snap.
“You got any other demands you want to dump on us this morning?” he says sweetly, giving me an evil grin. He intends to ignore me; I can see it in his eyes. He’s laughing at me, the jerk
“I’m the harbormaster. You’d better pay attention.”
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Catherine A. MacKenzie