She is standing in her usual position. Poised with one hand on her hip, the other resting on the window sill, she stares ahead, in motionless contrast to the framed view of the reckless sea.
“He’ll be hame soon.” I approach cautiously. “Ye know he always comes back.”
Yet even as I watch the angry waves, they seem to laugh with a lion’s roar, as if to say Who can tame me?
“Gae away, and play!” She turns in agitation as I draw closer.
I return to the garden, my long hair tossing uncontrollably, in the howling wind. I stand and wait like Mammy.
Only fifteen minutes later, I see the top of his woollen hat come bobbing up and down as he climbs the hill.
I open the gate and my numb, cold legs begin to run without effort.
I see his red, storm-beaten face, underlined by a few days stubble, breaking into a grin as I land into his arms. He smells of seaweed and fish. But I don’t care. I bury my head into his overalls.
“How’s my wee lassy the day?”
“Ye’re so strong!” I say, as he picks me up and carries me to the top. “Did ye catch anythan’?”
“Plenty’a monkfish this time.” he answers, and produces a bag from his pocket. “There’s a big’un ‘specially fer yer tea.”
Mammy doesn’t seem so pleased with the fish, and she doesn’t want to hear about daddy’s trip, or the crew either. I’m told to go and play again, so I hide in the back room, and listen to their voices, cold and cutting as the sea outside.
It’s not long before I hear the door slam again, and creep back in to find mammy at the window again.
“Where’s he away to?” I ask quietly, keeping my distance this time.
She doesn’t reply this time. Just stares ahead.
The next morning I wake up to find Daddy sitting on my bed.
“Get up, lassy.” He pulls the covers off. “I’ve somethin’ tae show ye.”
I get changed, and follow him into the garden, and down the big hill.
We walk hand in hand across the shore, collecting shells as we go. I paddle into the water, which is a bit warmer and calmer today. As we walk, we pass ‘The Anchor’, Daddy’s trawler boat.
“Wull ye take me some time?” I ask.
“Maybe when ye’re a wee bit older.” he replies, ruffling my hair. “The sea isn’a the sort’a place for a wee bairn like ye.”
He leads me on for what seems like miles. We end up on a deserted strand which I haven’t ever seen before. He sits down on a rock, and leaves a space for me behind him. We sit like bookends talking about all the things that have happened since we last saw each other.
“Ye know, I was born to be a trawler man.” Daddy says. “ It was all ‘a ever wanted tae do. Yer mammy doesn’a understand o’course. An’ it must be hard fer’er too, what with me bein’ away so much.”
“Aye. She wurries aboot ye.” I explain.
“I know.” Daddy turns to face me. “But just ye remember this - Nobody can control the sea, ‘cept Him that made us. He uses the sea, an’ all the other forces of nature, tae bring about what needs tae happen. I’m in his hand no matter what.”
It was an interesting conversation. I’d never heard Daddy mention God before. Only Jimmy who was part of his crew ever talked about God. They called him ‘the Fisher o’ Men’. Maybe he’d reeled Daddy in.
It’s been thirty-eight days now. I stand in front of the window, one hand on my hip, the other on the window sill. The sea rages on. Only debris from ’The Anchor’ has been retrieved. Mammy stands closer now than ever before. I take the chance to wrap an arm around her waist. Surprisingly, she draws me closer.
“He’s in a better place now.” I remember his words to me as we sat on that rock.
For once Mammy’s face looks peaceful, like still waters.
“I feel that too.” She smiles wistfully.
“Can we go fer a walk?” I ask. “I want tae show ye somethin‘.”
When we reach Daddy’s rock, warm sunlight is beating down, and the waves ripple gently. We sit like bookends, and talk ‘til the tide comes in about Daddy, God and the sea.
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