When I was a child I used to wish I were Pippi Long-stockings, now I realise she would probably wish she were I.
I tighten my grip on the rail, the wind whips my hair about my face and the sea spray flutters onto my cheeks. I feel alive. The salt in the air settles on my lips and I can taste it. I take in deep breaths and smile out at the horizon, I wish I could do this more often. We slow down as Dad’s GPS tells us we’re close to where he left them. We putter about the green, orange and black bobbles that disappear under the swell.
“Alright, when we get close throw out the grappling hook and pull the buoy into the boat.” Dad’s voice roars over the motor.
Jordan looks at me uncertainly so I smile at him and pull a goofy face. He lifts the hook above his head and flings it at the buoy. A wide smile takes over his face as he begins to pull. Success.
“Nice one boo,” I call out.
He wraps the rope around his hands and begins to pull. Wrap, pull, wrap, and pull. Dad muscles him out of the way and takes hold of the “pot” which is more like a very large, very heavy cage. The sound of shell hitting metal fills the air with excitement. We eagerly eye the crayfish flipping in the cage.
“Looks like we’re eating tonight kids, grab my measurer.”
I hand it to him and we sort out which ones we can keep. Two lucky critters get tossed overboard. They wave their tails as they swim away.
“Eat up my pretties, we’ll be back for you soon,” I call to them.
We repeat the process three more times, with a lot less luck.
“Oh well, we’ve got enough for dinner,” Dad says.
“We’ve got plenty pa,” I respond.
Dad shows Jordan how to bait the cray-pots and we throw them back overboard. Dad starts up the engine and we’re flying again. He hands me his packet of cigarettes and I roll him a smoke. He takes it and lights up. He opens the portal above his head so the smoke can escape the cabin and throws back his head to sing.
“Life is a breeze, we do it for fun. No apologies, to anyone. We live on the sea, we do as we please.”
Nourishment for the soul can sustain you for much longer than the largest feast.
Splitting the crayfish in half, piling up the fresh salad and soft dinner rolls on my plate, my mouth salivates in anticipation. I head out onto the deck to find a seat by the fire. The sky is pinky orange and the fire burns a blue-red. Birds titter as they find their nests for the night. Life is good.
“Mm this is so good,” I say to Robyn who cooked up the feast.
“It’s so good to have you guys home.”
“It’s good to be home.”
We stare into the fire in contented silence. Dad and Jordan come and sit with us.
“So when are you going to see your mother?” Rob’s voice belies the innocence that she attempts on her face. ‘Your mother’ spits through her teeth like an accusation.
“Thought we’d head over tomorrow night” I smile.
“Oh already? I thought you were staying longer?” Dad let’s the guilt hang in the air.
“Just for dinner” I say. They don’t know how much she needs me right now.
“Oh okay, cool. What shall we do tomorrow?” Dad changes the subject as Rob purses her lips. It has begun. Along comes the awkwardness that arises when talking about my mother spoils the sweet air. Usually I would make a joke about how I don’t want to go, not today though. Today I’m worried. I haven’t seen her since she told me and I know it’s been hard on her.
“I’m easy,” I say.
“Keen for a fish?” he asks.
“Yeah!” Jordan jumps in.
Dad and Jordan start making plans for the morning and Rob starts fussing around the kitchen. I offer to help but am swatted away in that motherly manner. Why do I still feel guilty? I pour us both a glass of wine and we sit by the fire chatting about everything and nothing until it burns down to embers. Jordan and I pick our way to the sleep-out in the dark. I strip down to my underwear and slide between the sheets. Wriggling my toes around the cool sheets, my body tingling from the comfort. Jordan gets in and our bodies melt together as we spoon. He’s the little spoon and I’m the big spoon, it’s the only way I can sleep.
“It’s good to be back, it feels so ‘homie’ here” he sighs.
“Home sweet home.” I kiss his neck and we wriggle closer than close.