The stars shone brighter than I’d ever seen before as we floated together that night. There’s something about the stillness and purity of night on the ocean that turns faint starlight into a bath of tranquility.
The waves rose and fell with a slow, steady confidence, lifting our small lifeboat toward the stars in offering and then dropping it down between the swells in an almost protective way. Tom didn’t feel the same sense of peace and acceptance I did. Whenever the water on either side of us rose above the short walls of our boat, holding us in the valley of two gentle waves, his breath would quicken, hid grip on my hand tighten.
“I’m sorry, babe,” he said, long after I thought he’d fallen asleep (or whatever passes for sleep when you’re floating on a lifeboat lost at sea overnight.)
“Don’t be sorry, honey. It’s not your fault.”
I licked my dry lips and reminded myself for the four hundredth time that salt water would kill me faster than no water.
“If I hadn’t insisted on this cruise we wouldn’t be out here, about to die of dehydration.”
“Stop. We are not going to die.” I grabbed his hand. “Look at me, Tom.” I waited until I saw him turn his head toward me, waited until I saw the starlight glint of the dampness in his eyes. “We. Are. Not. Going. To. Die. Trust me. We’ll be telling this story at parties for years. People will be sick of this story, we’ll tell it so often.” I kissed his fingertips and held his hand to my cheek. “This is not your fault.”
He wrapped his fingers around mine and we fell silent once more, scanning the horizon for glimmers of dawn or the shadowy masts of a passing ship. The stars twinkled and the waves rolled, just as they had before we arrived and as they would long after we had gone.
11/14/17 prompt: trust, tranquility, forgiveness