I told you about how you can lose track of the days when you’re out on the water so much.
Boy, did I ever lose track.
Mom has been coming along as often as she can since the fishing has been so crazy. We’re still slaying them and the price is still slaying us.
We were heading back in with another load of lobsters the other day—I couldn’t have told you which one if my life depended on it—and I got done cleaning up the boat and went to the back deck to sketch the buoy at the entrance to the Fog Island Harbor channel as we came around the point from the open water.
Inside the point, the water smoothed right out. The sun had set and the sky still glowed pink gold and even the dunes we were passing took on a pinkish tinge, and so did the white tower of the lighthouse. The boat plowed homeward through the silvery purple water as if she were on rails.
I leaned back against the box and looked forward at the buoy we were approaching and started drawing it. You could feel the boat take on just a bit more heaviness as we went from deep water to the shoaler waters of Fog Island Harbor. Dad calls it “thin water.”
Mom came out of the pilothouse and stood beside me with her hands in the pockets of Dad’s old plaid hunting coat. I wear that sometimes, too, especially when the fog gets thick and cold and when we’re heading in late or out early. It’s way too big for me and kind of worn out, but boy is it warm when you throw it on to go do something on deck when the air has that bite.
Mom: You know what day this is, don’t you?
Me: The day?
I shook my head. I wasn’t sure.
Mom (laughing): It’s been a year since we sentenced you to writing for what you did—for not listening to us.
Me: A year?
Mom (nodding): We’re both proud of you for sticking with it, and you’ve written more than we asked. You’ve even added drawings.
Me: Thanks, Mom.
Mom: So we hereby pronounce your sentence served. You’re free of any further obligation to keep writing.
Me: Wow. I mean, I guess I didn’t even think about it. As a punishment, I mean. I guess I started kind of liking doing it.
After I said that, I thought maybe I shouldn’t have. Wasn’t a punishment supposed to be painful?
We reached the buoy and Dad brought the boat around it in an easy turn on the smooth water.
Mom (seeing me looking at the buoy that had one gull on it that raised its wings and then floated off as we neared it): Go ahead and keep drawing.
So I finished the quick sketch of the buoy—just the way I made quick sketches of the other stuff I’ve been drawing and then finish them later.
Our wake fanned out and washed by the buoy, sending it bobbing like a piston.
Already the light was draining away and I watched the buoy recede into the purple dusk.
So I was free to put down my pencil and pen.
I’d reached the end of my sentence.
I didn’t have to write anything if I didn’t want to.
But what about Briggs?
He said he liked reading my stuff. Maybe he was waiting for the next one.
The buoy vanished and the Fog Island light flicked its beam as we headed toward the Tern Island buoy.
Should I keep on writing? I guess I didn’t think of it as a chore—not that much. Maybe I did once, but not now.
Mom (moving toward the pilothouse and flipping up her collar): Oh. In case you wanted to know what day it is. It’s Monday.