I stood alone on the deck of the sturdy little craft. The sea rolled and roiled, bigger and bigger from one moment to the next. I should have been afraid. We had every chance of sinking this little pleasure craft out on this wild sea. Terror should have touched my heart.
Instead, I stood alone, poised between ocean and sky and felt, quite ridiculously, free.
Brent’s The Ship poem fluttered into my mind, all uncalled for, with its odd parallel between shore and death. I felt alive. Like listening to divine music, I lost myself in what was both a long time and a short time; endless, yet, wanting it to never end.
Michelson struggled the length of the deck to check the sail. I couldn’t spare a moment to watch him, but I knew he took some pains over the boom.
A tiny orb glimmered in the distance. Could it be a harbor light? It faded almost at once. Still, I scanned what I could see of the island. The shoreline was no more than a hulking gray shape in the dimming daylight.
Surely, we would see the lighthouse’s bright beam soon? I was sliding past exhilarated and heading toward exhaustion. I had no real idea of the distance we had come, though I could clearly envision a map of the coast we sailed.
We journeyed up the east coast of Cape Breton Island, the northern tip of Nova Scotia. We needed to sail by the lighthouse south of McLellan’s Harbor before we turned to enter the harbor itself. It would be a trick to bring the boat around at the exact moment to glide into the mouth of the harbor.
Thistle jauntily swung up a great swell. I looked for the red-trimmed lighthouse. The storm so darkened the late-afternoon skies that I could make out no more than vague shadows.
At the peak of the next wave, finally, I caught a glimpse of a flickering light. “McLellan’s light,” I shouted. Without planning or thought, I leaned into the wheel.
Michelson lunged over next to me and helped me bring her around. We were a tangle of arms and legs, both trying desperately to drag the wheel left against the pull of the current. His enormous strength made the difference. The boat started to come around.
I looked again for the light, but saw, instead, the roofline of Widow Trumbull’s house, clearly lit and shining brilliantly into the face of the storm. Her lights shown day and night this last half-century, or so it was said.
Mrs. Trumbull, forever vigilant, forever hopeful and…too far south.
“No,” I screamed. “We’re still south of the harbor!”