Vancouver Island morning
Andrea works at the wharf in Lund, on the mainland of British Columbia. She shares an apartment with Monique. The two women accompany Jim, a commercial fisherman, to help him get his boat home to Comox on Vancouver Island, because Jim has a bandage on his wrist and a patch over his eye from burns he sustained from melting zinc while working on his fishboat. After a weekend in Comox, the women return to Lund via the ferry, but sparks have already begun to fly between Jim and Andrea.
Commercial troller, traveling
Excerpt from The Wind Weeps (Chapter 10 – Jim):
At the ferry terminal, Monique walked a short distance away so I could say goodbye to Andrea.
“Thanks for everything, Andrea. It was great having you over here.” I put my arms around her, being careful not to press too hard on my wrist, which still hurt like hell. But, somehow, I didn’t mind the pain while I was holding Andrea.
I buried my head in her hair. Fresh as a herb garden. I pulled back slightly to give her a kiss and her lips were already on mine. Our body language clicked perfectly. No awkward bumping of noses or clashing of teeth. It was all so easy and natural.
I trusted her and felt I could relax around her. She would never make me feel stupid if I said or did the wrong thing. She bolstered my self-confidence. No more shy guy. This girl was good for me.
“I’ve really enjoyed this weekend,” she said. “Thanks for having us over.” She lifted my bandaged wrist tenderly. “Be sure to look after this, won’t you? That was a nasty burn.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it. I need it healed for fishing time. Maybe I’ll see you when I stop in at Lund on my way north in a few weeks?” I watched her expression carefully. She seemed to light up as if she liked the idea. Good. I’d hoped she would. “I’ll call you, okay?”
“Okay. You’ve got Monique’s number, right?” She gave me a light kiss on the cheek. “I’d better run.” She looked over her shoulder. “The foot passengers are already boarding. Take care of yourself.” She picked up her overnight bag and hurried after Monique.
Turn around and let me get one more look at you. I watched as she crossed the parking lot towards the ferry. Almost there, she turned to give me one more wave. Her smile was genuine, natural, beautiful.
Driving home from the ferry terminal, her smile hovered in the front of my mind. She had me chuckling to myself, as I replayed so many of our moments together. There was something easy and comfortable about being around Andrea. I didn’t feel I had to role-play and try to impress her or be on my guard about what I said or did. I could just be me. She had an innocent way about her, didn’t want or need impressing. I loved that about her.
So unlike Sarah. Most of that woman’s sentences started with “I.” When I went out with Sarah a couple of years ago, I thought she was pretty in an earthy way – the artsy type. But what a left-wing greenie. Nothing wrong with wanting what’s best for the earth, but most of her beliefs involved way too much theory. Great ideas, but in practice, forget it. They just didn’t work.
“Everybody has a right to have enough food,” she said.
“Well, of course, everyone has a right to it,” I agreed, “but sometimes circumstances prevent that from happening, and it doesn’t matter if you have a ‘right’ to it or not. If food’s not available, you don’t get it.”
“How can you be so hard-hearted?”
“I feel bad for starving people, but the reality is we can’t save everyone.”
Then she rolled her eyes and shook her head as if she couldn’t believe my lack of understanding. She walked away muttering something about the bigger picture.
I could have just snapped her up and married her. She’d look good on my arm. But how would we pass the time when we weren’t having sex? Yes, sex. It was just that. It wasn’t making love with her—you need more emotion for that. But suppose we’d married and had the rest of our lives to spend together? I had a little taste of what that could be like when she deckhanded with me. There were hours sometimes when the fishing was slow and it would have been nice to have a conversation.
“What do you think is going to happen with this new Euro coin they’re trying to get all of Europe to use?” I asked her one day after hearing about it on the radio.
“I don’t know.” She shrugged. “Who cares anyway? That’s way over in Europe. It’s got nothing to do with us.”
“Well, sure it does. It’s going to affect the whole world economy. It’ll probably have a trickle-down effect on the price of my fish.”
“Is that all you can think of? Money?! You’re just like all the rest of those capitalists.”
“How can you say that? It’s what feeds me and pays my bills. What’s wrong with that? And believe me, what happens in European markets will affect all of us here.”
“Oh I sincerely doubt it,” she said. She blew out an exasperated sigh and picked up one of her paperbacks with the picture of lovers on the cover.
Not a deep thinker. I was disappointed in her. She looked good, worked hard when we were into fish, and was pleasant enough to be around, but something was definitely missing with her. She was all about herself in the here and now. Her only thoughts about the world at large echoed what her left-wing friends repeated. The only original ideas she had were in her artwork; never about practical things.
It just didn’t work for me. Fishing was a hands-on job. About as real as you could get. There was no room for a lot of idealism on a fishboat. If you had a tangle in the lines, you had to get it out fast and get that line fishing again. You couldn’t stand there and philosophize about how many chemicals went into making all that perlon and how it was ruining the environment. Sure I cared about the environment, but this was not the time to get out the placards and protest the use of polyester products in fishing lines.
“Did you know that wearing polyester underwear lowers your sperm count?” she said.
God, she was way out in left field.
“Mine’s cotton.” So there. For once I got the last word.
And now, a couple of years later, in spite of all Sarah’s earlier left wing green talk, it seems she’s turned into quite the little capitalist after all with her gift shop in Lund.
I pulled into my driveway, shaking off thoughts of Sarah and wondering why I ever had anything to do with her when I could have someone like Andrea. I would call tomorrow and make sure I didn’t let her slip away. Andrea was a keeper.
Will they someday sail off into the sunset?
Andrea soon gets herself into a life and death situation. Read more about her in The Wind Weeps.
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The Wind Weeps is also available at Chapters in Nanaimo, B.C.,
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