The engine whined and strained. The boat spun in the eddy, and Liz’s knuckles went white trying to prevent the steering wheel from spinning. Sandra looked like she was going to puke. Harley looked like he wanted to jump overboard.
“Liz, move over to the next seat but keep your hands on the wheel until I get there. Sandra, you and Harley get underneath the cabin into the berths, one on each side, and keep your heads down. We’ve got to stay balanced. This is going to be a rough ride.”
Mike got his ass in the seat, turned catty corner into the waves, and gunned the engine. The Whaler, made for stability in the surf, cut through it but crashed and rocked wildly between the swells. An air horn rolled back and forth across the deck, adding the effect of a ticking clock to an already nauseating ride.
The cuddy cabin kept the worst of the spray off them, but Mike had to unzip his roof panel and stand up to see over the salt encrusted windshield. A wave lifted the entire boat out of the water.
“Hang on!” He crouched and braced for impact. I hope everyone is where they’re supposed to be or we’ll flip. His lungs were about to burst.
The door thudded from side to side in knee-deep water. The motor bobbled and threatened to stall as the propeller came out of the water. He’d been out in weather this bad, but his two-way radio had been on and someone knew where he was.
He passed the living room where the flashback of an emaciated Mary, in a hospital bed, being tended to by a hospice nurse, wiped all the good feelings away. He pushed past it, into the kitchen.
Mary stood at the stove, stirring and filling bowls with noodles and dumplings and gravy. He smelled lily of the valley, her favorite perfume. Wine-tinged bile rose into his throat. The light dimmed, and all the other voices in the room went silent as she hummed some catchy 80’s tune. The glass fell from his hand and shattered, but he didn’t hear the glass breaking or feel the blood-red wine soaking his feet.
“Dad! You okay?” Allison ran toward him.
The room brightened. “Yeah, my hands were still wet.” He eased himself down to the floor to pick up the glass shards.
“Careful, don’t cut yourself.” Mary knelt beside him. Her hair smelled like lily of the valley as it brushed his cheek.
Mike reached for her, and tumbled into the void when she vanished. He landed on the heel of his hand, miraculously avoiding the splintered glass, coughed, and shook it off. “Get me a paper towel. Damn. Waste of good wine.”
Jay stared. Dana brought a roll of paper towels.
Allison mopped up the spill. Concern etched her face. “Dad, you’re exhausted!”
His cheeks burned, and his hear raced. Mike tried to act nonchalant and hauled himself up. “Yeah, I’m tired. And hungry. Let’s eat.”