The sea is dark. One of the generators is struggling, then stops, the lights fail. There are loud curses, the flash of torches, then the sound of the back-up, cold, old, chunking into life, coughing, pistons banging, then another oath, then more sharp blue light.
I am sitting in a chair. I am wrapped in a red blanket. They want me to go, but I can’t. Not yet.
Jenny was laughing this morning. You would so like to know what I do when you are out fishing. Do we have any AA batteries? Jenny was laughing this morning.
It’s the hitchhiker makes it worse. Why should that be? Where does, “That’s not supposed to happen” come into things? Do people on planes think, “No, this is wrong.”?
A Gap Year, she said. She wasn’t even nineteen. She was into saving the planet, said we should all spend a day as a plastic bag. When I said why would anyone do that she answered tuna, dolphins, turtles, we are choking the poor fuckers!
I was trying to get home before the kids went to bed. She could come too I said, we had a spare room, and I’d drop her somewhere tomorrow. She said it was going to piss down tomorrow. I said well it’s not exactly nice tonight is it?
She was squatting at the side of the road, had a card with THE SEA on it. Later she said she liked sofas, tiramisu, being in love, cinema. When she went back home she always had a date night with her dad, Pizza Express followed by Vue. He liked war films, she was into rom-coms. They took turns. She had a soft, warm voice, so soft and accepting it was like she had never known pain. When she said sofa she did it slowly, Soh-FAH.
Jenny II is still upside down, slapping, its white rump somehow obscene. I am here, ashore, alive, but I have no idea how.
She was wafer over cornet, strawberry not vanilla. She was going to Lesotho to help build wells. People like that don’t drown. People like that don’t just STOP because they blagged a lift, then thought it would be cool to go out on the water.
They’ve got the hull caught up now. They are getting the crane down and setting things up. I feel so cold, so fucking useless.
My head is in my hands. I am trying to remember stuff, woodwork classes, chisels, planes, shellac, tables, solid things. I can’t imagine I’ll ever go out again. I cannot contemplate talking to a man who likes war films.
I really don’t get the randomness. Me, fine. I fish, there’s a risk, but a kid, a girl?
My mother would have said, “We have been called to table. It is how it is. We are small and can never hope to understand.”
But fuck that, it’s just wrong. Not this kid.
My head is in my hands. They will lift the Jenny soon. Then I hear a voice, a soft, warm voice, soft, accepting. “Hey you, can we have a little more light in here?”