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Wa lurched and tossed me against her ash ribs. I untangled myself from the bedding and stumbled naked through the cabin, dragged myself up the three steps of the companionway, and grabbed the cabin top. Spray hit me in the face. In the dim light of a new moon, I could barely make out Pete’s form on the stern twelve feet away. Above him, the wind vane that steered the boat had disappeared from its bracket.
A wave broke over him, and he staggered. “I’ve got to get the vane back aboard,” he called. Take the tiller.” The wind whipped the words from his mouth.
Grabbing the flashlight by the companionway, I scuttled under the boom and unlashed the helm. Foot on the tiller, I pushed Wa back on course, held the flashlight for Pete with one hand and hung onto the side of the cockpit with the other. Thank God, he’d taken the time to put on his safety harness. He was wearing nothing else but his glasses.
What I want more than anything else in the world is for Mother to take me in her arms and hold me. I know that’s silly, cause I’m five years old and way too old for that stuff, but still. I asked Santa at Christmas. Instead he gave me a new doll named Gretchen and a dump truck so I can move grass and sticks around at my village under the pepper tree in the front yard. Maybe he forgot. Or maybe he doesn’t give those kinds of things. I don’t know.
Daddy hugs me all the time. He calls me “Peanut” and other silly things—I guess he’s a nut, too. Mother smiles. Sometimes she laughs, but the laugh has an edge to it, like she’s running along the blade of a knife and afraid of getting cut. I’d like to grab her and pull her off of that knife, but I don’t know how. Maybe I could take her in my arms, but I don’t think she’d understand.