On The Boat

January 30, 2009
By Mia Bruner BRONZE, Calabasas, California
Mia Bruner BRONZE, Calabasas, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

On the Boat

The car: a red BMW. The roof is not just a sunroof, but a California roof: it rolls all the way back. The interior is gray; most of the seats are plastic, except the cushions. They have dog hair and brown stains. The front seats are dusty and have nets on the back that hold a black leather planner with a Mickey Mouse clasp. The netting sags; the planner almost falls out. My sister, Audrey, is in the front seat; my mother, in the passenger. Audrey's hands are on the steering wheel. We all have the same hands; stocky, worker hands. I have burns on mine, my mothers have varicose veins. Audrey's are clean. We are all wearing black and driving up the coast. I have a hole in my tights. The leaves under my mother's seat stick to the feet. No one is talking. They both wear sunglasses. Audrey's look like new age Jackie-O glasses. Her headband is patent leather. Actually it is mine. My mom's sunglasses are silver boxy circles. We're off the freeway. All the signs in Santa Barbara are brown. I hope my heels don't sink in the sand. My mom is holding on to the handle above her head. Her other hand clutches the cup-holders and I notice that her wedding ring is on for the first time in a while.

My mother's blouse blows in the breeze. Audrey pulls into the harbor. She surveys the parking lot with her lips parted. My dad's car is in front of us. It's black. We pass The Breakwater Caf' and my Grandpa's voice floods my head: stories of sails, and my father as a boy, traces of a BLT on his lips. We park.

Outside at the harbor, everyone is wearing sunglasses. One man is wearing a light purple suit; no one told us we didn't have to wear black. Audrey and I buy snacks. I got a diet squirt; Audrey, honey mustard chips. We share and eat them outside waiting to get on the boat. As we scarf chips my Uncle Bart shows us black piece of poster board with pictures of my Grandpa plastered on it. We compare him to my Uncle Charlie; they look so much alike. Walking on down the ramp I noticed we talked about my Grandpa in present tense.

On the boat, everything is white. My cousin, Jasmine, walks in with her boyfriend, the movie star, Paul Walker. She is tall and tan and blond and wearing a long sleeve shirt and jeans. She greets my Aunt Julie, her mother, and fixes her necklace; they hug. Aunt Julie sits next to me. It is the first time I notice that she looks old. Her blond hair is ratted, she is wearing dingy black sandals; her blue eyes are shrouded with wrinkles, everywhere. She looks like a rotting pumpkin. She whispers to me that she is nervous about the speech. I can smell the vodka on her breath mixed with her smell: a mix of flowers and curry. The boat begins to move. The man who works on the boat tells us how to be safe but the only word I caught was 'snack bar'. I greet my Grandma. It's so strange to see her alone. Her face, which has always been round, looks gaunt. Her bone structure resembles a perfect globe, so the indents below her jutting cheekbones just look like liaisons. The boat rocks; it's nauseating. Something smells; it's in the wind. Aunt Julie takes off her sandals and Jasmine sits in a corner with Paul Walker. My attention wanes, I notice that the snack bar is a box of chips and a cooler.
I stand near the railing the fresh ocean air caresses my face. I want to lie down on it like a pillow. There is one pelican in the sky and my two young cousins play games. They are both around six, and they both wear pink jackets. There are other boats in the water: a big iron blue one that looks useful. There are seals on a buoy. The two girls get excited but they call them sea otters. The seals stand up and bark at us. I feel bad for smiling so much here. Cassidy, one of the little girls, mistakes a seal flipper for a dolphin. Of course, my dad corrects her. The ship turns around and one pelican nods on the water. There is a thin sheet of fog above the ocean but it doesn't go very far into the sky. It's pretty transparent. Everyone is paying attention to the animals. My mother stands next to me. We have been silent for a while. She puts her arm around me and she kisses my face.
My nine-year-old cousin Jace turns to his mother and says, 'The ocean is very vast place'. She says her husband, his father, my Uncle Bart 'Bart! Jace said something poetic!' The little boy, Jace, gets embarrassed. 'I take it back! I take it back!' he yells. He nuzzles his face into his mother's leg. My Uncle talks about his sunglasses.

In the center of the boat is a U-shaped counter. There is a photo album and a basket of stones on it. There are sharpies next to the stones for people to write messages on them. The boat stops to turn around. The sun is focused on one spot of the ocean. It looks like a sprinkle of stars. Jace decides to write 'Peace' on a rock and asks his mother how to spell it.

My dad begins to speak. His left foot over his right. He says that we are 'handling' this. That we will 'release' the ashes and the stone into the ocean. The rocking of the boat is nauseating. One hand on the iron chords of the sail he uses his left hand to describe my Grandpa's sailing technique. He says he wants to thank him for accepting 'a few knuckle head boys' into his life. The thought of my father that young makes me start to cry. Paul Walker leans against the railing. Uncle Bart and Uncle Charlie are blocking the sun with their hands while they listen. Uncle Bart has a strange smile. He is more showing his teeth then smiling. My Aunt Julie talks next. Her voice is soft and she looks down while she is talking. Her ratted hair covers her face. Once vibrant she is taciturn, hunched, concave. I'm the only one crying. I stuff my sleeve in my mouth and take deep breaths so no one will hear. I am sitting on the bench next to Audrey. My Uncle Charlie speaks. He has one hand on the iron rope. His left foot is over his right. He is chewing gum while he talks. He has the same wrinkles as my Grandpa. As he talks everyone begins to cry.

The moment of silence; Jace hugs his mom, she looks down at the ocean. Their hair is the color of straw. Jasmine has rings on her fingers. She is holding my Grandma. Her hands are long and tan; my father's, wide and pale. They take the ashes out of the brown box. It is rectangular and the ashes make the bag into a triangle. My dad opens it and begins to pour them over the edge. His back is to me so I can only see the dust pour out through the space between his legs. He hands the bag to my aunt, her bare feet brush against each other against each other while she pours. Then it is passed to Uncle Charlie. The girls in pink jackets crowd the railing to watch. I say something to Audrey but she doesn't answer. I feel my Uncle Bart's arm on my back. I turn to hug him but he is just reaching for a stone. My dad folds up the bag and puts it back into the box. Paul Walker begins to make small talk. His hair has highlights and he is wearing clean brown sandals. He looks at his arm while he is talking to my grandma. She looks straight and still wears her sunglasses.

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