Chapter One – Patient Spaces. “…all I need is a miracle…”
Mystique is full of naked shelves and patient spaces, waiting for Joshua to fill them with something of himself, and he has hasn’t yet begun. Eighty-five litres; that what it takes to hold his life, and he had carried that on his shoulders , when he had first stepped aboard his vessel: Master under God, on the first day of the season. He had carried that on his back last night, and on this morning he sighs with his yacht, he has returned, and this time to stay. It takes some shuffling to rearrange a life, and for the first weeks of spring, Joshua had done just that. He has back-and forthed and in-betweened, rounding up his bits and pieces; toys left messy on a nursery floor.
Despite the unfamiliarity of last night’s novel berth, he has awoken early, feeling rested. Exhaustion from a twelve hour drive and a choking toke on Ravi’s finest, had limited his beer intake to three, before he had crashed in his salon. Hangover-free, and with the best intentions to kick the day in the arse, he has showered and shaved, grateful that Griffin has connected the shore systems. He is more grateful, that Dassie Baai’s only coffee shop is on the marina, and the table and chair that now sit in his thoughts, are fifty-five paces, a smile or a wave, from the end of his gangplank. He has counted.
Joshua looks around the salon, and back on the years before Mystique, the first place that he can call home, in longer than the time that he had been away. There had been hours, sometimes whole nights when his restless spirit had felt some ease, but those hours had been few and the nights far between. His need for somewhere more, than just a place to hang his hat, and it is a cap at that, joined the serenade, the croon from the sloop, and called him in from the desert, where he has been ghosting too long. But there were other choices too, that had marked their crosses in that ballot, and money was one of them.
There is more than one road less travelled, and Joshua has searched out quiet foot-paths and lonely trails. The seekers that he meets all know he isn’t seeking, and the people who are hiding, watch closely, they can see that he is hiding too. Even this place that he has found is far from prying eyes or nosey neighbours, so he thinks. But snake-eyes rolled from a cup of chances, and he was rudely awakened, from the bed that he had made in someone else’s house. He was dispatched forthwith, to the country of his birth. This too is not home. Well, it certainly doesn’t feel it. For the moment, for the next four months, his wings are clipped, he is forced to roost, waiting with the patience of a vulture, for bureaucracy to grind. He has hopes that by December, his ticket to the ball will be poking from his pocket, and with one more passport in his hand, he will return to the secluded coves that he has found, and this time, he will have his home beneath him.
Joshua needs help and he hopes that it has been arranged. The old man had assured him, “Ag, Joshua don’ worry, you get back We’n’sday, I’ll sen’ someone Thursday…after lunch,” and that is this afternoon. It was Griffin who had sold the boat, and the old man is a teacher too, He: “Learns his kids” in dinghies and Joshua is his new apprentice, on bigger boats. The young man wants a license, a ticket to the show called Life, and hopes to learn from the old man’s mistakes; the ones he will to choose to disclose. Those curious twins; teaching and learning, had poked their noses into a different discussion, when Joshua had noticed a framed impression on the wall of the old man’s office, and invited comment. It is a photograph of a field of smiles and the proud stout seaman fills the background with his presence. “My kids” , he had explained and from there, well that was a month ago now and Joshua’s first lesson is arranged; tomorrow afternoon the men will sail.
Joshua likes his lattes with a double shot and a glass of water and six days out of seven he will call the crossword at its bluffs before his second coffee. Today isn’t one of them; he has too much on his mind. Besides a large part of his view is occupied by the bright lines of the sailing yacht Mystique. His yacht. The pride of ownership he expects to feel still lies tangled in buyer’s remorse , but the shots of bourbon he tips into his cup help assuage the conflict. So it is, engaged in comfortable pleasantries with Jack and hidden from view behind sunglasses, that Joshua would like to spend the rest of his morning. Well there or horizontal in his cabin. “Another coffee sir?” The waitress puts her stress on ‘another’.
“Please, I would, same again,” and he looks from his book past the waitress, and smiles at the woman with the lonely eyes
He sees her in the mornings closeted in her thoughts and hiding too, in the foliage over there. A smile and a glance are all that they have exchanged, yet he would, if he could, and she knows it. The thought makes him blush, but he hides it, and he gathers together his book and his paper, and pays for the drinks. His bed wins this time, and he looks forward to the torpor it promises, and his steps sound through the wood, as he walks away down the jetty. This week he has spent a small fortune, he rued the thinning pile when paying, and he plans to invest more in his plan. But he puts away these bothersome thoughts and his cabin is cool. In a matter of seconds the man sails away on a wing, and the words that he reads take him to sleep. The journal lies open on his chest where it had fallen; the chest rises, the book too. It wants to take off and fly. He had picked it from a packing case, one that he had inherited, among a bigger pile of bric-a-brac that had filled the fore-cabin, bunged there like clothes in a child’s closet. This one stood at the top of the pile and is marked on the leather-bound spine, in gold there is a numeral: 1, and a date: 1955. Joshua’s dreams are of ships, and of stars, and that is not surprising; the last words of the first page, that had pressed him to sleep, lie now close to his heart.
Tintagel, Cornwall, 23 May 1955
I weigh anchor tomorrow at first light; the tide is rising, the river deep. ‘Though Mystique is not tall; she is mine, and I search now for the star to steer her by. It is dark tonight and I ask when the clouds will clear and I will see Him again. Not alone, I sail single handed; my two, and those of my maker, to help me steer the course. That for now, is all points south of where I spin in the compass. First light then. I shiver, not from the cold, and it is that, but at the vastness of the empty ocean, and my nothingness within that infinity. So to bed then and….