The storm appeared out of nowhere,
tossing our ship back and forth
like a shuttlecock batted by sweaty young boys
in their junior high gym class,
gray t-shirts emblazoned with their school logo
and embarrassingly tiny red shorts,
and this simile brought Jacob to mind,
and I wondered what he was doing now,
so many years later,
with his pretty blonde wife and two kids.
When I dream of him,
does he dream of me too?
Does he ever think about me?
Ever wish he were with me?
Probably not now,
with the salty fingers of the sea
slapping my face,
blinding my eyes.
I try to walk across the slippery wet deck,
staggering like a drunk,
wind shrieking in my ears,
loud thunder cracks I can feel right in my stomach.
What am I even doing here?
I could be safe on shore, sipping an iced tea,
watching the brutal storm
terrorize the sea,
wondering what kind of idiots would be out
in this weather,
their boats taking on water,
the heaving, the rocking,
too terrifying to make you sick,
the lightning striking just behind you,
all your hairs standing up on end,
all this for a fish
that probably went extinct thirty years ago,
long before I even met Jacob,
in a junior high hallway,
and I couldn’t open my locker,
and he laughed at me,
but he showed me how.
I always told him that I would be
a marine biologist.
Every girl in our school
wanted to be a marine biologist,
inasmuch as they wanted to ride dolphins
and hug the seals,
but you’d have to go somewhere with water
to live the dream.
So the other girls who went to landlocked colleges
and married landlocked men
but not me.
I am hunting the ugliest fish
that ever swam while dinosaurs rambled
and volcanoes erupted and meteors tumbled.
And if I find it,
I might wind up briefly named in some textbook,
and it will make absolutely no difference
in your life.
So here I am,
sitting on the deck,
dirty orange rescue vest over my shoulders.
The storm passes overhead;
the ocean’s anger dims.
The bullets of rain turn into a mist,
and I close my eyes.
When the sea is finally calm,
I can feel it breathe
and remember that I can too.