Monday, February 22, 2010
I'm not awake. I know I'm not awake.
She turned over slowly. All that was left was his pillow. The room was dark and a thin sliver of light was winking beneath the door. He was awake, before daylight, again. This had become a ritual.
Is it morning she thought. She pulled on a pair of jeans, t-shirt, and cardigan and moved toward the dining room, grudgingly, her stocking feet sliding lazily across the wood floor.
There he was, in his pajamas, his face set aglow by the light of his laptop screen. His eyes were wide and he typed furiously.
When are you leaving, she began in a sleepy voice. Do you want me to walk downtown with you?
Soon. I can't sleep and I have a lot to do. You don't have to wake up.
All too soon he was walking away. She wasn't familiar with this part of the city, but found a place that looked interesting enough. After a cappuccino and a slice of panetonne, she pondered her options. Back to the apartment? Back to bed? Wander? Yes, wander, I guess.
She exited the cafe. Alone again, the sky heavy and seeping rain, her umbrella stuck. A few nudges of the small lever and it finally popped open. The street was quiet and the shop and restaurant windows were all dark. Her eyes lit up when she spotted the museum, but it was closed. Then a green sign came into view. It had bold white lettering that read FERRY underscored with a bold white arrow.
She followed, all the while thinking maybe I should just go back to the apartment. My pant legs are rather wet. It's February and I'm cold. Her feet continued in the direction of the bold white arrow, as if led by remote control, across the desolate street, up the empty stairs, over the bridge, and into a quiet terminal.
There were a few people sleeping on benches and a couple of men working behind a ticket window. It didn't seem any action would be taking place in the near future, but then she noticed there was a ferry leaving in ten minutes. She approached the window and stumbled Um...hi...if I take the next ferry, will it take me to the type of place where I can walk around a bit, on a Main Street of sorts, maybe find a cafe, and then take another ferry back to this terminal? He answered affirmatively, in a you-can-do-whatever-you-want-lady manner. Okay, one round-trip ticket please.
A few minutes later she was boarding a giant, and practically empty ferryboat. She sat down, alone, on a long pale bench and looked deep into the cavernous interior. The next passenger sat a distant seven or eight rows away. She was surprised this beast of a boat traveled with so few passengers. This was a fairly ridiculous day for an island stroll, but she admired the dependable ferryboat company for sticking to their set schedule.
She removed her jacket and rested it and her tote beside her. Feeling fidgety, she sought comfort in her book. She removed it from her tote and opened it to the page where her bookmark rested. She looked down, absently, at the page partially obstructed by her bookmark, not reading a word.
The view out the window was more interesting. She closed her book and gazed out at the ash colored sky and water, her head tilted lazily to the right. It was magnificent. The boat vibrated and hummed beneath her as it glided across the bay.
She laughed to herself thinking I feel like I'm in a movie. She was the drab character beginning what would be a fantastic journey that would change her life. This was one of those moments that refused conjuring or fair warning. She smiled and watched the boat cut through the grey waves. Always be ready she thought.
And then they landed.
She exited the ferry, her umbrella popping without argument this time. A heavier rain and a larger sign. DOWNTOWN, underscored with a bold white arrow. She followed, only looking out from beneath her umbrella to observe a traffic light. The movie feeling was fading and her wet pant legs were beginning to adhere to her legs. She crossed the intersection and saw what appeared to be the beginning of Main Street. Finally.
Entering the book shop, she wound the strap around her small dripping umbrella. She was the only customer in the shop and moved through every display slowly and methodically, reading staff reviews, picking up book after book and reading about the authors, studying their photographs, and spending perhaps too long with a book of Russian poetry.
The shop felt as if it had been drawn around her. It suited her perfectly. She decided on a used book. The way the woman at the counter paused and lovingly ran her hand over the cover left her wondering if these were waking hours. The woman, lost in a daydream and looking toward the front window, punched the keys of the old cash register and languorously said A perfect day for soup at the pub.
Yes, she agreed while drawing the necessary bills from her wallet. How do I get there?
Around the corner, down the hill, past the ivy-covered cafe, and through the parking lot. The actual name of the establishment escaped her. She left her with you'll know and she was right.
She entered a small warm room with a fire place, wood plank floors, and windows through which the mind could slip. Split pea with ham, a chunk of bread, and a pint followed.
The rain continued as she left the pub and walked around to the pier. She walked out along the planks, stopped about midway, and looked down over the railing into the crystal clear water. There were scattered starfish lounging about in the strangest positions, their bodies a vibrant orange. She stood there for a long time, her umbrella perched over her head, watching the scene as raindrops dented the surface of the water.
On her return to the boat the sun emerged, heavy, low, and beaming. She returned to her pale bench and familiar tilt of head. She revisited her bookmark and then tucked it away, again.
The sun reflecting off the light chop on the bay combined with the new warmth sent her mind adrift. She envisioned the boat traveling along a wide semicircular arc back toward the island. She knew she'd be able to sleep there. Time passed slowly, or so it seemed.
And then they landed.