No Ticket for Ride
Sounds of whooshing and pattering seeped through the thin cabin walls. I had slept well, the kind of rest in comfort; a fulfilling and deep sleep. I rolled over not wanting the slumber to end. Last time I’ll be reclining in luxury, on a mattress, toasty warm under a doona, safe and protected…
I reached over groping cold rumpled sheet. Oh, well, maybe he was showering. That pattering was the shower, surely. I stumbled out of bed and padded to the en suite. I cracked open the door. The bathroom presented empty and dry, unused towels exuding lavender softener-scent. I glanced at the entrance where rain spattered on the glass sliding door.
I crawled back into bed, clutching his pillow smelling of his musk. He’d gone! Not even a goodbye. Once again, my love had been absorbed into the universe fighting Boris and his minions and the prospect of Captain Sister Driver fobbing me off over dinner in the mess hall. I hoped that this time I’d at least get the heads up where he’d be; in the fleet or running operations on Earth. Was it so much to ask to keep in touch? I nursed the gaping wound of pain of his departure, wallowing in the in-between world of self-pity, immobilised.
Chirp! Chirp! My mobile phone vibrated sounding like a cricket. I flopped over the mattress to the bedside and grabbed the phone. An envelope on screen symbolised a text message. From him? How kind! An explanation perhaps. I fumbled with the miniscule keys on screen. You’re late! Ferry leaves in 15 minutes. No indication who sent the message. Just a very unhappy emoji, was all.
Alarm jolted me. Ripping off my doona, I leapt out of bed, scrambled to bundle up my clothes scattered over the tiled floor, and wriggled on my jeans, T-shirt and odd socks. No shower, too late. Gave breakfast a miss, only a glass of water to settle my churning stomach. I stuffed my belongings into the duffel bag, whipped the broom around in a virtual sweep, and flew out the door.
Panting, I turned and looked back. Memories. Perhaps I better just look under the bed. Won’t take long. I unlocked the door and on hands and knees groped under the bed for lost, discarded and incriminating items. A handkerchief, not mine, a mint lolly (Mintie), could come in handy, I shoved it in my pocket. And what’s this? A USB, not mine either. Or was it? I checked the end of my lanyard. Nup! There’s mine, the colour pink. I liked the colour pink. I examined the black thumb-sized data holder. 8 GB of storage. Could it be Fox’s? I jammed it in my pocket to party with the Mintie. I’ll ask him later, if I see him, whatever. Haven’t got time. I glanced at my watch. Ten minutes to Cruise departure. Then raced down the esplanade, running with the roaring forties.
As I rounded the Huon Pine joinery, I slowed to a canter, then stopped to catch my breath. Again, checked my watch. Five minutes to go…
Whump! My head thumped with sharp pain. A recyclable shopping bag shrouded the view of the harbour and stars gathered before my eyes. What felt like rocks dug into my skull.
A high-pitched scream rang in my ears. ‘Keep away from my man, you hear!’
I blindly batted the hessian bag attached to the wide woman with wiry hair and escaped further assault. With her waving the bag of rocks and cursing behind me, I galloped to the Ferry. ‘How dare you destroy my family!’ hollered she who waddled after me.
Wheezing and light-headed, I reached the wharf, and the last of the stragglers in the ferry line up. Surveyed the deck as I waited my turn. The German boy with his distinctive yellow, ochre and black beanie, leaned over the rail, catching my eye. My heart sank. Now he was on the same boat as me. What would be next? Stalking? I imagined him saying, ‘We have ways and means of making me your boyfriend’.
‘Tickets please!’ The short blonde forty-something woman in circa 1830’s period costume held out her hand. ‘Are you going to Sarah Island?’
I dipped my head in assent. Still breathing rapidly, I reached into my back pocket. No ticket. Left pocket. No ticket. Right? None, except USB and Mintie. ‘Want a Mintie?’ As if that would pacify the middle-aged mum. She glared at me with those small grey eyes. ‘It should be here, somewhere,’ I said.
‘We haven’t got all day.’ The lady’s voice strained. She sounded like a passive-aggressive mum.
I made a final half-hearted effort to rummage through the chaos of my carry bag. ‘I’ll just go and buy another one, then.’
‘Well, dear, you better hurry.’ The ticket mistress set her pale lips in a thin ribbon of disapproval, then raised her hand. ‘Next?’
Back on the wharf, my gaze roved over the calm waters bathed in hues of early morning rose and gold, the moored boats bobbing in the gentle tide and the Tourist Centre, drained of tourists, closed.
I approached an artist perched on a stool behind an easel. ‘Excuse me, do you know where I can buy a ticket for the next cruise.’
The lady’s round face smiled, and she pointed. ‘It’s the little shop next to the Tourist Centre.’
‘Thank you,’ I started to leave and then turned back, ‘Nice painting. I wish I could paint like that.’ Won’t tell her that I reckon my art is superior to hers. Had this urge to be kind to this en plain air artist—plain also in the looks department, poor thing. Well, at least she has potential, I thought.
‘Thanks. Can’t go wrong with boats on the Macquarie Harbour.’ The artist nodded. ‘Good luck.’
[…to be continued]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018
Feature Photo: Boats on Macquarie Harbour © L.M. Kling 2011
Curious to find out how it all began? How this alien cockroach Boris wheedled his smelly way onto Earth…threatening humankind’s very existence?
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