I’m leaning against the wall of the porthole

on

A wave comes crashing down. The captain looks out to see what the hell
happened. With his back to the wall, water drips from cracks in the wood
above. It hits the floor with a thud.

The captain lifts his face and stares at the wall. He can’t see me because I’m
leaning against the wall. His hands grip at the wood above his head, and he
saves me from the water. He doesn’t look at me. The water from above is hitting
the wall where the deck meets the wall. If he was a real man, he’d turn around
and try to escape.

What he sees is a rat, peeking from behind the metal of the door. It’s still
running around its cage, hoping to catch a mouse. The rat is the first wave of
water washing ashore.

An hour later, it’s raining cats and dogs. The wind blows harder and harder,
causing more and more waves to come crashing down. The deckboards groan as they
squeak and scrape against each other.

The rain makes me sweat. The salty water in my eyes chills down the back of
my neck and runs down my neck and chest. The rain doesn’t care if I live or
die. It keeps on coming and coming and coming.

I turn around and I see the rat from behind the door. It’s still scurrying
around the cage, hoping for a mouse to run up its nose. I know it will never
catch one.

The rain slows down to a little drizzle. I turn back to look out the porthole
for a moment, but I don’t see him. The water from the roof and wall is slowly
drying up, but the waves keep coming. They keep crashing down, over the
windows and the door.

I have to go. I’m getting soaked. The water in my eyes would drown a rat.

I go to the door and look out. There. My eye’s fixated on his empty chair.

He looks like he’s sleeping.

I go out and stand by the window, looking out to see if he’s watching me.

He’s not.

And a few hours later, I get out of the water. The rain stops for a few hours
by the time I come back out.

I don’t look for him. I don’t look for anything. I stand there looking out
the window and look at his empty chair. If I don’t find him, I’m not going to
look for him.

I don’t know how long I’ve been standing there. All the while, I’ve been
waiting, hoping he’d just wake up.

There he is.

I’m almost ready to throw him out the window when he stands up.

He throws the chair out of the chair. It hits the window. It crunches the
glass and breaks it. The chair hits the floor with a loud clunk.

The captain stands up and looks out the window at me. He’s wearing a smile
that turns into a grimace. A frown settles between his brows and turns him into
a grimacing monster. His body is hunched over in a crouch. And he’s holding
his arms with crossed hands.

“Good shot,” he says.

“It was the only thing I could do,” I say.

I walk past him to the door. I open it and look out.

“I don’t know what else to do,” I say.

“I think it’s time for a little nap,” he says.

I look out the window again. He’s standing up now. He’s not wearing his gloves
and hat anymore.

“You’re not going to bed right after my porthole, am I?” I say.

“I have been sleeping outside for a long time now,” he says.

I laugh.

He’s looking out the window at me, but it’s with an expression of terror.

“It’s not funny,” he says.

“I’m not laughing. I don’t know why you’re so scared, but you’re not going
to bed after me.”

“I’m scared,” he says. “I’m a little scared.”

“Oh yeah, huh? Who wouldn’t be scared out here?” I say.

“I am scared,” he says. “There is a monster out here. It’ll come back from
the sea and chase us into the water.”

“There’s no monster,” I say.

“There is one out here,” he says.

“No, there’s not.”

The rain has stopped. I look out the window. The sun is breaking out above
the horizon.

“I don’t know why I’m so scared,” he says.

“It’s probably because you’re scared to death. It’s hard to take a life on
purpose, if you’re not afraid of it at all.”

“I’m not scared at all,” he says.

“Don’t be a brat. You’re not going to bed after me. You’re going to climb into
that chair and hide until it’s over.”

“You’re afraid that something will come back from the sea?”

“I’m afraid of everything,” I say. “Why are you scared of the sea?”

“People get lost in the water,” he says. “I’m not afraid of the water.”

“Not really. The water’s a little wet.”

I look out the window again. The storm is not moving from the ocean, yet my
fear for him is real.

“You’re not scared of me,” he says.

“You’re scared of me,” I say. “You think I’ll come in and eat you?”

“You’re scared of me. You don’t know me, because I’m not there right now.”

“Then what’s in your face right now?” I say.

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