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Friday, 27 May 2011

Seventy-One

Experimentally, I let go of the wheel, and it remains in place. I turn and kneel down beside Lisa.

"Not long now," I say.

She groans and shakes her head. "Thirsty," she says. Quickly, I fish out one of the tins of fruit from the bag and open it.

"Here," I say. "Don't drink too much." She sips a little and then hands it back, and I set the tin down beside her. I pull out some of the blankets as well and then just sit there holding her hand, helpless, useless. If only there was something I could do...

And so it goes on for the next hour. I move back and forth between Lisa and the wheel every few minutes, checking our course as best I can. Although the marina and the coast become more distant the island itself hardly seems to move closer at all, and then quite suddenly it is swallowed by the night and I find that whichever way I look all I can see is water, and a blinking green light up ahead that I assume must be a buoy. With nothing else to navigate by, I steer towards it and hope. Meanwhile Lisa's condition has hardly changed. She's uncomfortable constantly, shifting position and groaning, barely opening her eyes. And occasionally a contraction will come, and she will scream, grip my hand, the sound of her pain going through me like a knife.

Out here the sea is rougher as well. Flecks of saltwater finding their way in through the door to the cabin. Lisa wraps a blanket over her shoulders against the cold. Beneath us the little boat rolls and tips on top of the waves. I'm hoping, desperately hoping each moment to see the looming shape of the island against the dark. I strain my eyes for it, fingers tight on the wheel. But all I see is that blinking green light, getting slowly, slowly closer.

"I'm scared," says Lisa once, after a particularly painful contraction. "It hurts so much I feel like I'm going to die from it."

Her words sent a jolt of sick fear through me, but I try not to show it. "You'll be fine," I say. "I promise you'll be fine. You and the baby."

And then we're alongside that blinking green light, and I see that it is indeed a buoy, bobbing there in the water like the only human thing in the world. It casts a pale light over our little boat, over me and Lisa, and in its glow I see how her face is shiny with sweat, how she looks as though she's aged ten years in just the last hour.

Another contraction seizes her and she doubles over in pain. And then her screaming changes pitch. She gulps air, eyes widening in fear before clamping shut once more. She holds out a hand. I kill the engine and the boat coasts to a halt as hold her on the cold metal floor of that tiny vessel, rising and falling on cruel waters in the middle of nowhere and nothing.

"This is it," she says. "I... I can feel it coming..." She grips my hand so tight it feels as though it breaks bones. "David," she moans. "Help me."

1 comment:

catalyst2 said...

So close and yet so far.