Saltwater

Lane Ashfeldt
Publisher
Saltwater
Price
€12.50
ISBN
n/a

A shadowy boat approaches. A fishing boat. A skinny man leans forward and grabs the window to hold it steady. We scramble aboard, first Archie, then me.

'Gwynn?' the skinny man says.

Johnny Deakin.

I don't say his name, or thank-you, or anything. What is there to say?

He gives a quick almost hug as he wraps a blanket round me and my brother, then nudges us toward the cabin. He goes back to shining his torch off the front and calling out. It's the older man steering the boat, who asks, Were your parents at home?'

I shake my head. 'Out.'

'Anyone else?'

I'm silent. Too many ifs swirling round in my head: if I'd fetched Archie quicker, if I'd not listened to Mrs Reeves, if I'd only held Little Davey tight.

The man makes a low whistle. Would you believe it: them gas lamps are lighting still.'

I can't believe he has room in his head to notice this, but I follow his gaze and he's right. A line of greenish streetlights glows eerily beneath the sea. The man uses their light to steer an obstacle free course towards higher land. Under the scratchy blanket I feel a patch of warmth where Archie's head rests against my arm, and I lift the blanket so it covers my face. I just want to go home. I want it to be yesterday, and none of this to have happened.