Ocean and Sky
From Aimé Rurchard to Julian,
I am sorry for disappearing that night. This letter is filled with intentions of hope and luck. I may not have acted it but you were a lot to me. To prove this I want to tell you what I can remember of our journey.
Sailing through the dark night my small sailboat, bobbed in the waves closer and closer to the decrepit docks of the Potomac river. Its blue sails carried me right up to a suitable dock. No better place to be then under the moonlight for the one man crew of The Cloud. I moved swiftly around the sailboat, as if I were a breeze. I let down the sails, anchored and finally tied the boat to the docks jumping off to touch solid ground for the first time in about three years. You came running toward me, young lanky and kind of loud. You tripped but got up unharmed. I soon learned your name was Julian and you would change everything for me.
"Running from something?" I asked
"Please set the sails I've got places to go."
"Kid there ain't no place you gonna find that running isn't the easy way out."
"I'm not looking for something easy."
"Well that's good then ain't it?" I smiled obnoxiously
"Why don't we try something a little bit different. You tell me your name and destination, and I get this ship a'sailin."
"Well then Julian, where ye be headed?"
"South, Galveston Texas"
"You know that we a far way from Texas, right?"
"Yea so the sooner we go."
"The faster we get there, good point, good point." He boarded my ship and I got things ready to sail.
Soon enough the two of us were sailing into the darkness again. Once the winds picked up in the right direction I sat back down with Julian. He gazed out with bright blue eyes into the dawn that was fast approaching. I knew he was something more than just some kid; he had a presence that seemed to electrocute the air around him.
"Julian, why are you headin so far from here anyway?"
"I'm looking for my parents; we got separated during the war."
"Your one of the one's that got caught aren't you?"
"Yea they sent me to one of the camps to keep us safe."
"No, just kept us uninformed and out of the way."
"Your alive though aren't you?"
"What about them? What about all the kids that didn't get caught?"
"We lived in hell for the last few years is what. No fancy island to keep us floating above the chaos."
"I never asked your name."
"I'm Aimé Ruchard, from New Orleans. I don't have no parents to find and no island to run from." Then the silence took you over, closing your eyes and relaxing on my boat, I carried you down to the cabin and let you sleep. I kept the boat sailing throughout the night. I heard you moving about well after the sun had found its place above the horizon. I set anchor and began to fish for you. By the time you were on deck I had a nice large fish cooking and I was fascinated by the glow in your eyes when you smelled the food.
"What are you making?"
"Nothing special just fish. Sit down, eat, or I'll eat it for you."
"You'd eat my breakfast?"
"Breakfast is breakfast; I don't really care whose it is." So you sat down and we ate. Once I was done with my half I raised anchor and we were off again. That day I didn't talk to you, so you didn't talk to me, we just sailed. I started to like seeing the back of your head, and I didn't mind that you didn't talk it let me imagine the conversation the way I would have had it.
Night came and out stomachs started to turn and grumble so I let the tides take us to shore somewhere around the Carolina's. Dropped anchor and fished again. In the starlight you finally seemed interested in me. I am still not sure if it was more of your hunger or your heart that made you take my fishing pole from me. You told me to relax that I had done enough for the day, so I laid back. My eyes closed for what seemed like a second when I could smell fish cooking. We ate in silence, it's how I thanked you, by honoring your meal with a quieted stomach. I let you sleep in the cabin as I slept on deck.
The next day was the same way. In fact for a few days all I can remember is some combination of that day where nothing happing but sailing, fishing, eating, sleeping, and adoring your quiet presence. I do remember that one day when the sun was high that you asked me.
"If I learned to sail, could we get there faster?"
"Well one of us would sail at night and the other would sail during the day."
"Teach me then?" you said, I smiled hoping I would get to hold your hand, or for my skin to even brush yours, maybe my hot breath would be able to finally run along your neck as I had wanted it to for once. I showed you the ropes, metaphorically and literally, I showed you the ruder and how it works, I placed your hands under mine on the wheel. I informed you on which side of the boat was stern and which was starboard, where the bow was and which way port was.
After a few days you caught on, which was fast compared to when I learned. I remember my parents trying to teach me, and my older brothers saying how I would never make it on my own. When I met you I had been living on my own for three years. When I left you, I never wanted to be alone again. We passed the keys and the rain came. You coughed once and I condemned you to the cabin so that you wouldn't get sick.
"I can handle a little wet and cold you know…" You said angrily
"But I'd rather you stay healthy so that if I get sick you can take over, if you get sick then I have to sail the boat and take care of you." "A cough isn't the plague…"
"I'd just rather not take a chance ok, you get sick and we have to go ashore. Then we will take twice as long to get to Texas." I knew how to stop you in your tracks. You wanted to get to Texas, so anything I said that might hold us from that would halt our conversation. Another night passed, this one was dry, and so we slept on deck. We were so close it was almost sleeping together and so far we could have been considered in two different worlds. I couldn't sleep, so I guess that counted against us too. At this point I can hear your disgust at me, I remember the way your breath is different when you're unhappy.
Another night or two passed.
You were the one to spot the lights on shore. Then the music came with the fog. The old big easy was alive and thriving with a party. You changed that night, you wanted to stop and see what was going on. So I sailed us into port. The fog was so thick the ocean looked as if we were sailing on clouds. You jumped onto the pier, and stood staring at the city. I tied the boat up and let you lead me into the city. We pushed our way into crowds of masked and costumed people. They turned their heads and huffed at us in disgust. So I decided we should pirate some masks away from one of the small stores. You pick pocketed yourself a get up that had the feel of a desert raider, and I stole a palette of greens that made me look like a prince of the swamps.
Then into the accepting arms of the carnival we went. Lovers to everyone we glanced at or slipped by. The streets were light with torches, which made shadows into people just as real as you and me. A constant parade concurred the center of the streets. You held my hand the entire night dragging me this way and that, we even became part of the parade for a decent amount of time. Before the sun rose you turn to me tired, I picked you up and carried you into a café. Up the stairs we went, to room number seven. I laid you down and then fell asleep in a wing backed chair.
"Wake up, Aimé." Your voice pierced the morning air. I stood, went and washed my face then opened the curtains to the new day. Our window faced the streets we had partied in the night before. In the day light they were as dead as the ancient streets of Rome.
"Where are all the people? Where is the mess?" You asked me genuinely confused.
"You really don't know how much the world changed while you were on your little island do you?"
"I know that the Big Apple is abandoned, and that the Capitol is the new place to gather, for now."
"You left a place to gather? With survivors and all?" I had to question your streak of decision making.
"Yes, someone said the last place they saw my parents was in Galveston Texas."
"And you don't think your parents would head there eventually too?"
"I need to find them, I just do." You said stubbornly.
"You missed the death of most of civilization, you missed the great break down of mankind, you were gone when all the lost spirits needed somewhere to go."
"The people in the streets…"
"All dead, all moved to the great beyond, that what this city is now, a ghost's paradise."
"That's impossible." That's where you really started to figure it out.
"So was the war to end all wars until that happened." I told you messing up your tuft of hair.
"Now how about we get outa here and get a move on before something happens and we become new resident spirits ourselves.