His wife didn’t like sleeping out under the stars. Things might crawl on her, it would be damp and she might wake to find something supernatural nose to nose with her.
So the day the world snapped, he knew he’d go alone.
What he really wanted was to be on a boat, moored a long way from land, never going back to work again. But never going back to work was not an option, the sea was too far away and he could only anchor himself in the garden, adrift of the house he was working to pay for.
Taking a week’s leave he traversed the lawn and swayed in the dappled shallows under the cedar, turning his back on the house. Left against the shore of the back door, a note said “Casting myself away. Don’t rescue me. Yet.”
He couldn’t sleep in the shed which was so decrepit that even the resident bat had gone; but he didn’t have to live in it, just know it was there. The July weather was set fine so he erected a standalone hammock between the tree and the shed and placed a small garden chair alongside, facing into the swell of the scrubbery.
For a few days he was marooned, eating out of tins and washing under the outside tap. He imagined the traffic sounds from the bypass were distant rollers on the edge of his lagoon. In the morning, dew sparkling in his hair and beard, he pretended the pigeons and thrushes were gulls. In the evening, he tried to ignore the wafting smells of tomatoes, garlic and chilli and refused to decode the indistinct sounds of shore: the TV; negotiations between his wife and their teenagers; the rattle of closing curtains. Later, rocking under the stars, he heard the curtains open and knew his wife was risking the supernatural to watch over him. Bathed in her love he fell asleep.
On Thursday evening, he felt a clink against the hammock-stand. Looking down, he found a note in a bottle: “permission to board?” After a moment’s pause, he turned to the house. At the back door stood his wife. He beckoned and she walked across to him, awkwardly dragging a chair and carrying a basket of fresh food and chilled wine.
“Are you running away from me?” She asked.
“No. Just adulthood.” He answered.
“I feel like that as well.” She whispered. “And I miss you.”
“There’s room in the hammock for two.” He offered.
She thought momentarily and nodded.
As the sun set, they lay cuddled in the hammock, rocking over the shallow waves of the lawn and listening to the rollers in the distance.
“No pirates in this ocean.” He reassured her. “But we’ll sail home tomorrow. Only shall we cast adrift again sometime?”
She cuddled into his shoulder, feeling the strength of his arms and the warmth of his body. In the moonlight their faces were transformed, young and carefree again. “Yes.” she said. “We will.”
Copyright 2016 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission