Crossing the Sound

By our first summer out of school Lesley and I were thinking about our futures, wondering if they might be intertwined. Then Lesley’s family announced they’d be moving to the other side of the Sound.

‘How can they do that?’ Lesley said. ‘Without even asking.’

‘What’ll we do?’ I wove my fingers into hers. It was a three-hour drive to North Cape. The gravel strewn mountains along the way looked great on postcards. Up close they weren’t so romantic.

She stroked my arm. ‘I’ll row across to see you.’

‘Are you mad? It’s ten miles. Open sea.’

‘I’ll wait until the weather’s good. I’ll show them what I think of North Cape.’

I didn’t really think she’d do it.

But three weeks after the move she rang. ‘Today’s the day,’ she announced.

I waited by the shore. Two hours. Three. The skies darkened. Then I saw her in the distance pulling hard on the oars.

The little boat sat low in the water, waves breaking over the gunwales as she hauled it closer. Packing crates surrounded her, weighing her down. But she stroked mightily and brought the boat to shore.

‘I’m not going back she said. Help me with the boxes.’

I took one from her, streaked with blood from her red raw hands.

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (