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Friday, 3 June 2011


We wake, me and Lisa both, to the sound of the baby crying. I'm stiff and cold, tiredness heavy in all my limbs. But it's light, and the water's gentle, slapping against the hull in a slow and patient rhythm. Lisa sits up a little and hushes the baby, pulling aside the blankets and bringing the little mouth to her breast. The baby girl starts suckling at once, as if she knew what to do all along.

"Look at that," says Lisa. "Clever little girl. Good little girl."

I stand and stretch and poke my head out of the cabin to find out where we are. We've drifted a little in the night, but there's the buoy with its pulsing green light, and there--my heart leaps with excitement--there is the island, unmistakeable, closer than ever. I can make out tall chalky cliffs and a beach of white sand. Narrow paths cut their way up the cliffs, and there at the top are a jumble of houses and cottages, trees and fences. It must be very early morning still. I can't make out any people.

"We're close," I tell Lisa, ducking back inside. She smiles. We both watch the baby as she suckles. When she's finishes, Lisa holds her out to me.

"Will you take her for a while? I just want to get cleaned up."

"Of course."

I can't remember the last time I held a baby. At one time, just months ago, it's not something I could ever have imagined myself doing again. She's so small. I take her out onto the deck to show her the island, but she's asleep, and so I just sit with her, marvelling at her. Her softness. Her fragility. All the horror that she's been through to get here without even knowing it...

"I'm going to name her London," says Lisa, emerging from the cabin, looking refreshed but still tired. She looks out towards the island.

"London," I say to myself. I like it. Keeping the old names alive. "That's a good name for a girl."

I stand, and Lisa comes to my side, and we kiss once more, and then simply stand, holding London, holding our baby and looking towards Holme.

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