She paddled across the bay, her eyes fixed on the house in the distance. She sat in her small yellow kayak. She hadn’t packed much but she planned to stay overnight. She would stay and make the offerings that her friend had suggested. She envied her friend. How did she know what to do? Where did she get her confidence? Ever since her mother’s death, she felt as blustery within as a leaf in a wind storm. There was no place to ground herself. She was blown around by her feelings that never settled anywhere. So she drifted from class to class, walking the gray hallways of her school, looking for something to hitch herself to, inside or out, that could let her feet feel connected to the ground and let her heart settle into a slower rhythm.
Meeting the seal had been like dropping an anchor. She found a thread that she believed in with all her heart. She could not deny to herself what she’d seen in that house. She’d seen her mother. Finally, there was as a truth, even if no one else would believe it. She’d planned to sleep there. At the cabin. She would wait as long as it took to see her again.
As she paddled, the pelicans swooped down and scooped fish off of the surface of the water. When the water splashed inside the boat she got a chill. The sea was covered in breakers that were pushing her boat back and forth, and she used all of her will to keep the vessel on its course. The sun was just pushing through the clouds and starting its upward course across the sky.
It was early on a Sunday. The rest of the town had been asleep while she’d dragged the kayak down to the water. She’d left early so no one would see her go and ask her why. She would stay overnight even though she had school tomorrow. She hadn’t told anyone where she had gone. Perhaps she had the same streak of insanity that they said her mother had. Perhaps this one single vision wasn’t the truth but the first inklings of delusion.
She had left a note for her dad. She left it on his bedside table while he was still sleeping. She didn’t want to worry anyone but she didn’t want them to worry her either, or stop her from going. She had go to before she lost her courage before anyone could talk her out of it, before they started calling her the same names they’d called her mother.
She looked back and saw the houses on the shore. she could even see her family’s house. Then she swiveled her head back, like an owl, to track her progress toward the island. On the island, she saw two seals resting, and then she spotted a third, that was in the water, a smaller one, a child of the two on the shore. the small one was frolicking in the waves, turning over, and splashing the water on its belly.
She dragged the kayak onto the shore, pulling its weight into the sand. Then she picked up her small backpack and marched toward the house. It was empty this time to her chagrin. The house looked the same within, the table, the flower, the bed, but no one inhabited it, not the woman of the Spider, not her mother. She lay down on the bed and put her backpack on top of herself, like a blanket. The bed had a single pad, that folded into thirds, a thin layer of foam. It was soft enough for her to rest. She was drifting to sleep when she remembered the offerings. She’d packed some water, a few of her papers from school the ones with the highest marks, a watercolor of the sea she finished, and a few of her mother’s items that she’d wrangled from her dad’s closet. her comb, a novel that had her mom’s name printed on the inside cover, with notes written in the margins. Perhaps it had been one of her favorites.
She lay these out on the table and bowed down in front of it. I want you, she said. I want you to know I am here for you. I want you to know that I love you and that I need you. You showed yourself to me once. Won’t you please come back and tell me who you are? I never had a chance to know you, before you left. But if you are still here, if you are here, please, I want you to know I am ready. I brought these for you. Please take them. I hope they bring you comfort.
Nothing but wind stirred.