The longboats

A little book Lester’s sister had given him told a story based on the settlement of the scattered islands of Polynesia. He loved the very idea of it. What had driven them to set out? How had they found their specks of land in the vast Pacific Ocean?

It became his favourite topic of conversation. Whenever anyone visited he’d turn the conversation around to those tiny boats, lost in the fog of history, setting out across unknown waters.

He told the story to friends and family and returned to it, at the end of each day when he and Dean were again alone together, usually with a bottle between them and something from Dean’s CD collection playing in the background. Dean’s strong arm around his shoulders.

He imagined what it would be like to be one of those sailors, bidding farewell, the water an unending void between present and future.

The longboat journey. That’s what he called it. So much better than the other word. The one he hated more than any. The one that held him captive. Cancer.