The sky was bright and blinding when I stepped out of the
airport. I felt numb as people pushed past me and an endless stream
of cars flowed by. My grandfather was waiting for me dressed in a
dark grey fleece and sandals that reminded me of my mother’s daggy
fashion sense. He did not look like the man I’d seen in my mother’s
photos. A man flushed with youth, strong and tall with hair like
He held out his hand. It was bony and rough, freckled skin
sagging, thick blue veins bulging out of the backs of his hands. I
shook it. Despite his frail appearance, his grip was strong and
unshakeable. I couldn’t remember how to talk.
To my eyes, accustomed to years of drought and murky brown
waters, it seemed more like an ocean than a river. I could not see
the other side. Blocking my view were countless pink-grey granite
islands engulfed in trees. The water seemed to stretch out forever,
following the curve of the earth to the horizon.
My mother thought that the change in scenery would do me
good. I thought I was past being helped. I didn’t voice that
“How far away is the cottage?” I yelled, struggling to make my
voice audible over the churning of the engine and the rush of the
wind. My eyes stung.
“Not too far,” he yelled back. He stood, hunched over the steering
wheel in his old age, his face twisted into a smile. I was clueless
when it came to boats, but I knew we were going fast. We were
quickly overtaking all the other boats around us. My hands
tightened around the railing as the boat jerked and jolted over the
waves, its tip rising and falling, sending drops of crystal clear water
spraying everywhere. We were going so fast I could barely register
the shape of the islands passing us by. My head swam, not like when
I was back at home, lying facedown on my bed and feeling so
miserable I couldn’t feel anything at all, but like I was at last alive to
feel my heart threatening to break free from my chest. A blue and
white speedboat veered around the corner, red and blue lights
The policeman flagged us down. A worm of fear tunnelled itself
into my heart. Grandfather slowed the boat to a stop.
“Anchor your boat!” the policeman called out as he steered his
boat beside us.
On The Floor
Of The World