The next three days were replete with challenging currents and winds. They tested Rich’s skills, however, he faced the test admirably.
Rich looked proudly over the bow through the windshield. Waves splashed above the bow and everything settled steady and good; swift and clean.
“Passing through the Straits made me a more complete sailor,” Rich thought. “I must never think of myself as master over the sea, for as soon as that happens she will slap me down to size. Mighty mariners more advanced and humble lay at her bottom.”
It rained daily; soft and gentle. It reminded him of the good steady rains that brought growth to farm crops. However, the rains did not bring the same pungency as it did on land. At times he sensed as if the odor of those rains were with him, but it was only like hearing a familiar song in your head; the sound is only in the recess of a memory longing to be lived again.
He closed his eyes and imagined drops of rain falling on large leaves of corn stalks. He watched the water run down the leaf, onto the stalk, and into the moist rich soil. Soon it formed a small puddle and when the rain stopped it absorbed into the soil. “Agricultural poetry,” Rich said. “I want to see those fields again. I want to smell the rain. I want to feel it again on my face. I want to walk between the rows of corn and lose myself.”
Zeke sat across from him and listened to the strange cadence from Rich.
“You wouldn’t understand, Zeke, but there is a dog much like you in Ohio. You would be great friends. He is older than you; he would show you how to have fun in the fields. We could run the fields together looking for rabbits and pheasants. His name is Duke.”
Rich closed his eyes and imagined Zeke and Duke together darting from row to row in a cornfield.
Rich opened his eyes. “Did you see it, Zeke?”
Zeke stood and barked once.
“You saw it didn’t you, boy,” Rich said. “You were there with me and Duke. Is it a place you’d like to go?”
Zeke jumped down from the bench and leaped next to Rich. He licked Rich’s face.
“It was grand,” Rich said. “We shall go again.”
“I wonder how Jenny is doing?” Rich thought. “Her baby must be talking by now and entertaining her heart, at least I hope so. She had a good and gentle nature. I hope she found love, a husband, and father. She will find her way. I wonder if she ever thinks about me. I don’t think about her enough. I avoid it.”
A memory flashed before him; just a group of old classmates standing around and talking. They were waiting for the gates to open for a football game. He stood close to Jenny. He smelled her hair, clean and pure. He felt the warmth from her body only inches away. He held her hand and she clutched his. And the gates opened. The hands unclasped. Rich stood motionless and only moved after being summoned by his friends.
“I wonder if that moment meant as much to her as it did me? I hope not. I would not want her to carry the heartache and longing.”
“The sea cannot depress you,” Rich thought. “It only inspires and is there for the challenge. Look at the sea and forget the past. Dear God, take care of Jenny and her child.”