Monday Sidetrack: 18

Monday Sidetrack: 18

Ruby stood up and began pacing around the center of the table.

“I’ve seen something about this somewhere. I know I have. It might be in my pack.”

“It might be in your pack? I'm not sure what you mean by that. Is there a portal in your pack?"

"No, I have a book that might help us, but first I'm trying to remember that story I heard about when I was a kid. The one about Viola's grandfather. I think it's related."

"You know a story about my grandfather?"

"Of course I do." Ruby stopped in her tracks and looked at Viola. "I mean, he gave me to you. I knew him."

Monday Sidetrack: 16

Monday Sidetrack: 16

"If anyone asked where you were, what would you say?" She wrapped her hands around her teacup and leaned forward a bit.

"I guess I'd say I’m in New Zealand. I arrived here a few days ago and I'm on a kayaking trip nearby." I ran my right index finger and my glance down the side of the suspected milk pitcher.

"Not much kayaking around here. The waves scare away most people." Her eyes searched mine and then moved to the platter.

I looked up and felt myself losing my edge. I had heard about this side of my grandma - a shrewd businessperson, sharp as a tack, or a shard of glass depending on who you asked. Either way, it was never mixed in with the homemade chocolate chip cookies or tapioca she treated us to on weekend sleepovers.

Monday Sidetrack: 15

Monday Sidetrack: 15

I patted the platform around the beacon and found nothing but smooth surfaces and clean edges. The longer I searched, the more quickly I moved, the more desperate I felt. There was no way to know when I might be pulled back to my kayaking trip or to some other place I'd have to figure out. Every step I took and every move I made could lead me away.

Monday Sidetrack: 14

Monday Sidetrack: 14

My heart beat a new rhythm against everything it could reach, not holding anything back for the sake of reason or self-preservation.

Relax, relax, relax. Losing your cool won’t help.

Walk up and pretend that you’re lost.

I shifted my weight on the stairs and tried to find the position that looked the most natural in case I was discovered.

What am I saying? I AM lost.

She was almost to my side of the building. I scooted down a few more steps, away from the opening.

Monday Sidetrack: 12

Monday Sidetrack: 12

Jerome was sitting to my right, next to Malcolm and across from Allison. None of them seemed to notice that I was there. They looked like they were behind some sort of screen, like I wasn’t quite in the tent with them. When I turned my head to the left, I could see several lights in the dark. I closed the zipper behind me and followed them.

Monday Sidetrack: 11

Monday Sidetrack: 11

The entrance to our campsite was an inlet that was only noticeable when we were already coming in to get out of the water. Like the rest of the Sound, it was wooded and rocky, but a small path was visible from several meters away. We floated in and my eyes stayed fixed on each new section of the path, hoping to see something to help explain the ferry.

Monday Sidetrack: 10

Monday Sidetrack: 10

“So, how much kayaking have you done?”

“Enough to sign up for this trip. I live near a lot of rivers and I always mean to kayak more.”

“Why don’t you?”

“Um, probably because I work too much. On the weekends, I don’t have much energy for anything except the housework I didn’t do during the week. BUT, I’m changing that. This trip is the first step in that process.”

Monday Sidetrack: 7

Monday Sidetrack: 7

I did have a quick flash of what it would be like to try to reach anyone back home if I would happen to capsize my kayak and hit my head on a rock or something. It involved a helicopter and an industrial-strength walkie talkie that would reach Queenstown and relay my mother’s name and cell phone number seven THOUSAND miles away while I was receiving CPR and a tourniquet around my head.

Monday Sidetrack: 6

Monday Sidetrack: 6

              Today, I drank tea and felt my mind race through all the things I had finished on Friday. I knew I had checked off everything on my list, but did my list have everything I needed to do?

              Stop. You are on vacation. Relax.

              What do people do on vacation alone?