The bus idles in a shallow sputter compared to the ocean’s voice. Though I sit all the way at the back of the bus, I can see easily over the empty rows of seats to the front. My uncle sits behind the wheel. I’m astounded. He intends to drive us over the causeway. That narrow, paved road built on a raised ridge of sand that stretches perilously out into the ocean and uncurls out of sight over the great, gray expanse of shifting water. Doesn’t he remember the last time?
Perhaps he does not. Perhaps he doesn’t care.
Determined not to cry, I press my forehead against the window’s cold glass, try to stare past the hungry waves. The ocean stirs and mutters and threatens my resolve. When my tears come, they are near silent, wracking.
Tires humping over asphalt. The ocean, lying in wait, in duplicity. Waves gathering, retreating, rearing up into the sky. Those peculiar shadows cast by roiling seawater – volatile, changeable, transparent, then opaque. Thunderous crash of those falling waves. Creak and groan of too-thin metal, caving. Delicate chime and tinkle of splintering glass. Understanding the ocean’s resolve as it tumbled limbs, sucked at flesh. Its intent of pulling all into its watery center.
Choking sting of salt water.
Rapidly, I blink away tears when I hear her voice, lift my head from against the window. Turning, I am surprised to see she sits a row or two ahead of me – my friend. She has taken up my cause, gently suggested a logical case for avoiding the causeway, for finding an alternative route. Her rationale is so tactful, so persuasive and balanced, my uncle soon agrees with its wisdom as if it had been his own all along. He cuts the bus’s engine and gets out his maps.
Meanwhile, my friend catches my eye and smiles. She has accomplished what I would certainly have been scorned and belittled for. The causeway’s threat – of being washed away, swallowed whole, drowned – is vanquished. My relief overwhelms me.