Across The Harbour

The boat was going up and down and water splashed over the side sometimes but it was very exciting. Tess thought it was exciting anyway. He mum didn’t feel too excited. She wasn’t yelping or putting her arms up and jumping and trying to land in the same place, landing in a different place, and stumbling. She wasn’t doing that at all. She sat there, on the seat, outside, watching Tess, and telling her to be careful and star with her. Mum was no fun sometimes, Tess thought.
The ferry was a fun sort of boat to travel on. There were all kinds of other people. And it wasn’t fairy, mum said, it was ferry. There would be fairy bread if Tess was a good girl, or fairy floss, or maybe both, if she was good, when they got off on the other side of the harbour. Wasn’t the harbour huge? Tess imagined falling over the side of the ferry and bobbing around in the water, and sinking, as she wasn’t a very good swimmer yet, and there was no way they could rescue her. She would die. It was just too big. That was what happened. Little girls must be falling over the sides of ferries all the time and drowning in the huge harbour, she thought, and it made her scared to think that. Her mum had told her to be careful and she knew why. She didn’t want to go in the cold water, all alone, and die in there, in the cold grey water, all on her own. And then a big splash came over the side again and she squealed and forgot about the bigness of the harbour and her likely death in the middle of it if she misbehaved and thought instead of water running down her back, a trickle of water only, but a cold trickle, and water on her tongue, salty water on her tongue and in her mouth when she swallowed, and water going up her nose so she gave out a little sneeze. A stifled sneeze which felt so funny, as if her nose had turned inside out. That’s what her Nanny used to say. Inside out. Tess asked about the fairy floss and the rides and the ice cream. Her mum answered and pointed out the other boats passing and the seagulls flying and the big grey clouds building up overhead.
The mirrors made Tess look fat and made her look like she had a huge head and her mum said she had a big nose and said look if you don’t believe me. Right there. In the mirror. And they sat and ate ice cream from the bice cones which are crunchy and hard and taste really good and the ice cream wasn’t the same as the ice cream they had at home from the tub in the fridge which mum let Tess have a bowl of after dinner. It was softer or something. Tess liked it.
The rides were scary and she told her mum she was OK to go on herself but her mum wouldn’t let her, as she was too little and they went on together. On the merry go round and the roller coaster. She went on the dodge em cars with mum’s friend Danny and they crashed into other dodge ems and Tess was scared. Danny said not to be scared, he said it was safe and he wouldn’t let anything happen to her. But their dodge em got hit hard and it wasn’t fun, not at all, and sometimes they got hit from behind, and Tess couldn’t see what was going on, and then she closed her eyes anyway as Danny drove all over the place looking for dodge ems to hit. Tess said make it stop but Danny told her it was alright. Everything would be alright, he said.
She ran to her Nanny when they got out and hid behind her dress. Nanny spoke to Danny and her mum wasn’t there. They told Tess that her mum would come back and gave her a toffee apple and her mum did come back before she finished eating. Danny asked if he could have some of her toffee apple and he licked the whole top of it, and he winked at her, and took a big bite and said thank you. And her mum was there, wearing a different dress and with lipstick on and Danny put his arm around her mother’s waist and Nanny said, “Not in front of the little one.” Which didn’t make sense to Tess, so she repeated it to herself over and over again, in her mind, and kept saying it to herself, and she said she wasn’t little, that she was a big girl now, and not little any more, but they were talking about something else. And Tess walked over to fence at the edge of the shore, where the water was on the other side. She looked down, deep down into the water, and saw a jellyfish and she could see through it but she could still see it, and it was beautiful, and then she vomited all the brightly coloured food she had eaten into the water.
Nanny wiped Tess’ dress with a tissue as they went back across the harbour in a ferry. Her mum and Danny stayed on the other side.

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Published in: on April 10, 2014 at 8:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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