Sailing

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The water lapped up at my feet, the wind blew the boats out and then the water drew them back in. My hair was blown into my mouth and you laughed that sweet laugh of youth and innocence. I miss that laugh. I started to change my mind but you pulled me back insisting that I had to do this. I shook my head saying I’d just watch from shore, but you wouldn’t hear it. It’s windy, I said, I won’t be able to see. You laughed and informed me, as if I didn’t already know, that we need wind to do this and also that I had a hair elastic around my pale wrist. I told you I would get sun burned, but you reminded me I had SPF 75 on. I asked what if I fall in and start to drown and you told me in a way only you could that you would save me.
I ran out of excuses, so I stepped onto the dock. I walked slowly and carefully as you leaped forward towards the end. I reached the end and ever so carefully stepped onto the boat while you jumped on to it. You pushed us off from the dock with more grace than I’d ever seen you exert. You started messing around with ropes and sails and I suddenly felt like I was in the way. But you noticed and took my hands and showed me what to do. The minute you let go of my hands I felt afraid, afraid I would do something wrong. But in an instant your guiding hands were back again feeling the ropes alongside mine, your chin on my shoulder looking out across the horizon.
I asked what you were looking at, I didn’t see anything. You paused for a minute, you never paused, our conversations usually occurred without a stop in between. Finally, you answered that you were looking at freedom, the freedom which you would never have, the freedom to just sail into nothingness. I responded asking why you can’t have that freedom, why we just can’t sail away into the unknown. Once again you paused, after this you never paused before talking again, and answered that we have obligations and commitments and expectations to meet and we can’t just leave them all behind. We stood there in silence for awhile, just listening to the waves hitting the boat and the wind in the sails.
You said it was time to head in. I didn’t want to go, which caused you to laugh. You teased me about my being afraid of coming out and now not wanting to go back. I said I like the freedom to which you agreed. We pulled into the dock and you tied the boat up. We got out, and you just sat there on the dock and I lay there with my head in your lap listening to you recite Shakespeare and Jane Austen, because you knew it was my favorite, into my ear. I said something, I don’t remember what it was now, that made you laugh. That was the last time I heard that laugh. It changed after that day, when we went back to the real world, the world with obligations and commitments and expectations.
Every now and then I think I hear that laugh again when I come out to the dock. It reminds me of you and that carefree day. When I come back I see the face of that man on yours because I know that man is still in there, the man that longs for freedom. That day you didn’t save me, but I should have saved you. I should have saved that thought before he answered and had his freedom. But I didn’t save you, I waited though. I waited for that man, but I never did see that man that you were that day ever again, but I knew he was in there, waiting to sail into nothingness.





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