– Here you go Jane!
She said to herself as she was about to board the “Splendor”. People were going here and there on the docks in big hurry, sea gulls were flying, they were free, she looked up at the sky, she felt free.
It was the greatest summer day, she was holding her luggage and the painting stuff, she was fragile if you’ve looked at her, you couldn’t believe she can hold so much stuff. She was excited like a kid in front of a candy store, she was out of the cage, the chains were broken even for a short amount of time.
The ship was new, she was really a splendor, an engineering marvel technically, but very old school looking.
She ran into her cabin, threw the luggage on the bed, grabbed the painting set and wooosh, she went on the deck to sketch the harbor. The deck was so crowded, sailors were busy running everywhere to get the ship ready to set sail, people couldn’t find their cabins, she was just bumped and pushed from place to place.
She went to this corner.
– Lady, you can’t sit there!
She went in the other corner.
– No, no, no, get out of there, you can’t stand there.
She went in that corner.
– WATCH OOOUTT !
She ducked as a big rope with a huge metal hook swing above her head. Jane was in shock, but suddenly she felt someone touching gently her arm and a voice whispered into her year.
– Come with me!
By instinct, she let her be carried away by the hand on the metal steps, deck 1, deck 2, deck 3, the highest deck.
It was the perfect view of the town and the harbor.
– I am sorry to interrupt …
She came down to earth and turn to the “savior”, a tall handsome man, dressed in white uniform, so confident and so proud, but in a calm way.
– I am Captain Powers and i don’t want accidents on my ship, it was reckless of you to go in all those dangerous places on the ship.
She was so ashamed.
– I am really sorry … I am Jane Hackelby.
As he turned around.
– I thought this will be a good spot for you.
– Thank you captain !!!
He waved slowly as he was going down the stairs.
Life on board was relaxing for Jane, and familiar, there were lots of painters that got together to share experiences, techniques, feelings. She was sailing on a sea of creativity, she really felt alive.
That morning she was more then happy because she received a message from her in-laws, that the kid was alright, healthy and he missed her mom. She was around the other painters on the back of the ship, all working on the stunning cliff they were slowly passing by.
She was very concentrated on her work but she felt a presence, she turned around, Captain Powers was checking her work a few feet away … he nodded his head like he’s so impressed in what he sees. She smiled, he smiled and walked away.
[A few days later]
Jane get a message from Gerard.
“I thought you missed me STOP is it all about painting? STOP when will you come home? STOP”.
Here they were again …
Days passed, she recovered, she was having a good time with the other paintings, working, laughing getting better, experiencing and checking about the little boy with the in-laws.
That morning she was getting ready to get on the deck to paint and another message from Gerard came.
“i thought you would come home earlier STOP that’s how much you love me STOP where are you STOP i will send a car to pick you up STOP”
She felt the world crumbled, her heart was shattered in pieces she felt a flow of spears rushing through her veins, she grabbed her painting set and went running to the deck.
Jane was climbing the narrow metal stair looking down at the big waves that hit the ship like wild dogs biting she tripped and bumped in a sailor going down the stairs also in a hurry to get the ship ready for stopping in the next harbor.
But everything stopped … again … and the world ended.
The painting set was flying to the water, the brushes scattered in the wind.
She grabbed the railing and set down on the metal steps with a sea of tears on her face.
She started to think this is a sign, that she didn’t have to be here in the first place, she was confused, she was really down.
The ship coasted in the next harbor for the next three days, a slice of heaven island, but she couldn’t get up from her bed, she was crying rivers, she was so down and so full of negative thoughts.
She skipped lunch and after the dinner was over, she was also in her bed with napkins all over the bed like a cotton field.
[SFX: Knock! Knock!]
– Go awaaaay !!! …
[SFX: Knock! Knock!]
– What is it?!
She dragged herself from the bed, looked in the mirror … big swollen eyes, make-up in a mess around the eyes … she swiped once her face hoping this gesture will do magic on her appearance and she opened the door of her cabin.
– Ms.Hackelby, i have something for you.
There was this big flat beautiful wrapped present and it also had a ribbon.
Jane was puzzled she acted like she didn’t knew what to do, she was chaotic. Captain Powers came to the rescue.
– You don’t have to say anything, please … calm down and take it. It’s no big deal. I hope you will be fine.
She took the present and closed the door, put the present on the little table and crashed on the bed. But if you think a woman will still stay on the bed after she received a present, boy, you’re so wrong. As she was standing face down on the bed, like being crucified, she turned her head to the present on the table, she dragged her there and opened the present.
It was a brand new painting set.
Poor girl instantly get to her senses, washed, fixed make-up, dressed and in not more than 5 minutes she was on the highest deck, the captain was there.
She threw her arm around his neck.
– Thank you so much captain!
He get around her waist with his arms squeezing her back. She let go of him.
– This is the greatest present i have ever received.
– You’re welcome. And you can call me John.
The last month of the cruise, the Jane and John were inseparable, they talked for hours, she painted, they walked and explored every harbor town the ship stopped, they felt very open and sincere and the captain turned out to be very sensitive and supportive. She loved that, she was at large, she was herself, she have found the greatest friend.
Messages from Gerard continued but as long as her child were alright and she was not needed, she thought she would get the trip going until the end.
And here came the last night of the cruise, the last night together, she didn’t do anything all day, she just sat in her room and thought about her life, her marriage, her kid, painting, the awesome moments spent with John.
Gerard gave her tones of presents but never a single brush or canvas, he looked at her pictures in the beginning but not like the good captain, she had everything she wanted with Gerard but all this time with John, she really felt communicating with someone a man really being there for her.
They were at the ship’s restaurant for the last lunch, both dressed impeccable, both trying to enjoy every breath of the other one. They were not showing that but they both felt it on the other side.
– John, can i ask you something?
– Of course.
– Why are you a ship’s captain?
– I feel free at sea, i’m feeling like home and i think i will change this only with a very strong reason. You see, it’s exactly like you, and painting.
She couldn’t believe her ears, her heart almost exploded.
After the lunch, they both started to walk to Jane’s cabin but they were like one step forward two steps back, they were kind of nervous …
They get in front of Jane’s cabin door. She looked at him.
– John … can i ask you something?
– Of course.
– We had some great talks during this trip, what can you say you have discovered about me? Honestly !
– Honestly ?! Nothing !
– Oh, sorry, it was a dumb question!
– And to be brutally honest … right now i wish i could leave the sea to discover you.
Her heart was shattered in a million diamond islands in the ocean and she went in her head.
[ Is it over … it can’t be ]
They touched their lips like the sky kisses the ocean in a clear night, he took her in his arms and opened the cabin door.
– Nine months later, my daughter was born.
Said Mrs.Hackelby turning from great sadness to a smile while looking at me.
I didn’t get it.
– … And what happened to Captain Powers … ?
– That night we made plans to go together, i was supposed to get the boy and leave Gerard but when i got home, all sorts of crazy and dark thoughts came to my mind. What if i was just another girl, how can i explain this to Gerard, what would he think of me, what his parents will think about me, that i was indeed not good for their son, they hated me from the start, what will think of me my little boy, they will never let me take him away from them, it’s my husband, he loves me in his way, what if i will give up painting, maybe things will improve in my marriage .. what if ?!… what if ?! John insisted we should meet and sort things out, he could not believe i turned my back on him, we met, i told him i don’t want to ever see him, i’m a married woman and what happened to in the cruise was the biggest mistake. He was devastated, he knew i mean it, i made him swear he will never try to find me … but he did one more thing, he send me the letter … and i didn’t went to the docks … i couldn’t.
Tears were coming from her eyes.
– I never saw him again …
I took her hand in mine.
– It’s alright …
– You don’t say anything ?! You don’t judge me ?!
– No, you have suffered enough.
– Mark …
– I owe you an explanation … you know, the hand thing …
– Only if it will make you feel better.
– My daughter don’t know anything about her real father. After a few years, Gerard died. We had lots of arguments and i think he suspected something about my daughter. My in-laws told me one day not long after he died, that i should live the house and live my boy with them. I get to Happyville with both my kids, not without a fight with nothing and we started over. All this killed me little by little and one night, after a fight with Gerard’s mother, i collapsed, God punished me and left me motionless. My kids take care of me for years, they didn’t deserved this, my son was more of an adventurous type, but my daughter was by my side for years. I couldn’t take it anymore, all i wanted was to kill myself and set her free. I prayed to God every second and God helped me, one day my arm moved … a few days later i smashed the window that shattered over me and a divine big piece of glass cut my wrist … i panicked … again … i was a coward, i should have take a piece of glass and finish it … the neighbour came and … i get to the “Thousand Oaks”.
I squeezed her hand … she squeezed mine.
– Thank you Mark!
– You’re welcome!
– You can go now … and Mark … this story will stay in this room.
– Or what?!
– You know, i’ll beat you to death, and you know i can do it now!