A short story from: Coastal Maine in Words and Art: Gallery Fukurou’s Reflections by Maine Writers, 2019.
© Lynn Smith, 2019
Seaweed Lawn, photographic art by Yorozuya Yohaku
I am standing on the shore in a filmy floral dress, holding my high-heeled sandals by their straps as I scan the horizon, wondering where the hell the water taxi is. It was supposed to be here fifteen minutes ago, but it hasn’t come, and I’m tired of standing in the wet sand with seaweed sticking to my toes. I want to call and scream at the dispatcher, but my phone is dead, and there’s no way I’m going back to that party.
We had gotten the invitation a month ago—Matthew had brought it into the kitchen one evening while I was making stir-fry.
“It’s a gender reveal party,” Matthew said. “It’s at Waterscapes next month—cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a balloon release afterward. We could take the two o’clock ferry. And they have a discounted rate on hotel rooms.”
I looked up from the bok choy I was slicing. “Balloon release? Seriously?”
Matthew slipped the invitation back into the envelope. “They’re eco-friendly balloons. They biodegrade.”
The cold water laps at my feet as I consider my options. I could walk to a convenience store and ask to use the phone. Call the taxi service and demand that they pick me up. But if they can’t . . . then what? There is the hotel room, but that doesn’t appeal to me. It’s one of those chain hotels with the ice machine near the elevator and the amoeba-patterned carpet in the hallway.
I notice a man at the dock, stacking lobster traps in his boat. I recognize him as one of the lobstermen who is out trapping every day. Maybe he has a phone?— It’s worth a shot.
Matthew had been eager to return to the mainland. The couple were relatives of his—a cousin and his second wife. “I’ll be bored out of my mind,” I had said. “And who really cares whether the baby is a boy or a girl?”
Matthew pursed his lips the way he does when he’s annoyed, and I realized it was too much trouble to argue. He messaged his cousin and told him we’d be there. I put away my watercolor palettes, packed a bag and booked a pedicure.
“Dana Greenville—pleased to meet you,” he says, tipping his cap. His skin is weathered from the sun, and he looks to be about my father’s age. His smile is kindly. “You live up to the island, right?”
“Yes,” I say. “I live near the Porthole.”
“Down front,” he says. “Summer resident?”
“No—year-round. I work in the library and I also paint.
“I have a niece who paints,” he says. “She’s wicked good.”
I decide to get right to the point. “I was wondering if you have a phone—I need to make a call. I left a party early, and I called a taxi but it never arrived.”
He stoops down and secures his traps. “Haven’t got a phone,” he says as he knots the rope. “But if you’d like a ride, I’m headed that way.”
I twist the handle on my pocketbook as I think. I don’t know him . . . and yet I do. He’s been an island resident for years—probably his whole life.
“I would appreciate that—thank you,” I say. He reaches for my hand as I step into the boat.
The ferry had been late. When we got there, the hostess brought us to the patio. We found our place cards at a table next to Matthew’s mother, who was waiting for us.
“You almost missed the raffle!” she said, handing me a strip of tickets.
The next hour seemed endless. I made small talk and smiled. Finally, I found Matthew on the dance floor and told him I was leaving. I wanted to go back to the island.
I sit on the seat as he unties the deck lines and starts the motor. There is a puff of exhaust and the smell of diesel. We pull away from the dock.
The sun is getting lower in the sky as we set out. Sunlight glints off of the buildings, and I can hear the band playing. Suddenly I hear the crowd cheer, and a cloud of pink paper balloons floats up to the sky. Dana Greenville sees the balloons and smiles. “Looks like someone is having a baby girl,” he says.
“Yes—that’s the party I left. I just don’t have the patience for that sort of thing.”
Dana laughs. “Well,” he says, “I guess you’ve got all the information you need.”
I look at him and smile.
“Yes—I’m all set.”
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Coastal Maine in Words and Art: Gallery Fukurou’s Reflections by Maine Writers, 2019 was published after a contest for writers to create stories to accompany art photography that depicted Rockland and the coast in its myriad situations, moods and emotions. This story was published in the book along with 27 others.
An overwhelming 88 stories were submitted for the contest. In the end seventeen writers were chosen. Their stories are told with depth, insight, candor, irony, wit and humor. Anyone who has every visited Maine’s coast will be able to relate to them. They’ve put humankind’s instinctive emotional connection with the sea into words.
A gallery exhibit/booksigning was held at Gallery Fukurou in September 2019. The contest was held by Polar Bear and Company, of the Solon Center for Research and Publishing.
The Maine Humanities Council provided a grant for our project that enabled the Solon Center to donate books to libraries across Maine. MHC is a statewide non-profit organization that uses the humanities, “as a tool for positive change in Maine communities.”
Please ask your local bookstore to order it in for you or, if need be, purchase it HERE. All photographic art is available through Gallery Fukurou at info(at)soloncenter.org.