Reads: 261

“Hello?” She doesn't recognize the number or the area code. She almost didn't pick up at all.

“Hi... Is that... Jess?”

What? “Yah, hi. Who's this?”

“It's ah... It's me, Alex.”

Fuck me sideways – for real? She leans against the ferry rail and holds the phone tightly to her ear. The July winds are chilly here. She draws a blank.

“Hello?”

For real. “Hi, sorry. God, how've you been, Al? I thought you must have fallen off the map or something.”

“Hah... yeah you could say that. Yanno me, I'm not the best at keeping in touch.”

“No kidding. Whatsit now, five-”

“Five years yah.” The reception isn't great. Al's voice beams in and out.

“Crazy.”

“And you? You okay?”

No. “Yah, good. I’m actually on my way back… Ashley’s fiancé… well, he died.”

There’s a moment of silence.

“Al?”

“Yah… sorry, must be the phone. Yah I ah… I saw it on the news, Jess. I’m… I’m sorry”

“Yah,” she says, absentmindedly, “me too.”

“Yah…”

She doesn’t know what to say. What can she say? Nothing needs to be said. Nothing should be said. But with just the phone holding them together the silence is painful, not as it would be – as it should be. She grasps the rusted rail.

“I’m coming back,” he says, finally. His voice nearly makes her cry. It aches.

“What- now?”

“Yah. I’m just-”

Nothing.

“Al?”

“Yah, sorry… we’re docking. I gotta go, Jess. I… Listen, I ran into Millie. I’m gonna try and make it to the funeral if I can, okay? I’m going home. You’ll be there?”

“I’ll be there. A few days.” She breathes. “Will I see you?”

She can hear a woman’s voice on the other end, instructing passengers to return to their vehicles.

“I’ll see you there, kay?”

“Okay. Take care, okay?”

“You too.”

“Okay.”

That’s it. Five years. Nothing, and now this. Out of nowhere. She can hardly believe it’s just happened. There’s a tightness in her eyes. Roaring in her ears. Her phone rings again, and it’s another strange number. She picks it up.

“Hello?”

The person on the other end doesn’t speak.

“Hello?”

A few seconds pass, and they hang up.

Weird. Jess pockets the phone and stares down at the froth running from the ferry. Despite all that’s happened, with Ashley and Kevin, and Millie showing up and her breath coming in ragged clouds at the back of her throat and her heart pounding with fear – she smiles. Excitement takes over. She overflows. Glows. Her cheeks ache and she rubs them.

Looking down at the water, she catches a glimpse of something long and white beneath the surface. A beluga? A ghost? It runs with the ferry for a moment, brilliant and beautiful in it’s elegant simplicity. No one sees it but her. It dives and fades into the bubble-frosted blackness beneath the ferry. Gone.


Submitted: October 26, 2016

© Copyright 2021 keithdaniels. All rights reserved.

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