The tourist passengers on the ship just can’t seem to get enough of the party scene. I had no real desire to get involved, so when I was off-watch, you could often find me up in the crow’s nest… As Thomas Hardy would say ‘…far above the madding crowd.’ (“Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”, by Thomas Hardy) While we had spent the day tending to the medical needs of the Natives, the passengers had spent the same time snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, and waiting for the roasted pig to come out of the pit. After a rich, full day for all, the evening brought with it dancing and drinking around a bonfire built on the beach. After which, the party spilled back onto the top deck of the ship.
Between the alcohol and the steel drum music plunking out it’s chaotic rhythm I watched as the passengers acted like idiots. From my higher perch, I could watch it all, still hearing the steel drums and humming along with the music. From here, I could watch and still have the peace and quiet that my soul needed. As I watched the young couples dancing hip to hip, grinding their bodies, and fondling all over each other, I thought of my husband.
Even amid all the excitement and cheer, I felt the heaviness of grief. I hummed with the music, but felt absolutely none of the joy that should go along with it. ‘Don’t worry, be happy, now’ was the farthest thing from my mind. I wasn’t worried, per se, but I sure as hell wasn’t happy, either. My heart ached with a so intense that it was almost as if there were a knife being twisted within. If one’s heart could burst with pain, I was sure that mine had. I felt the tears on my face, warm and wet.
I didn’t want to cry. The tears just came, unstoppable. Hormones. It had to be the hormones. That was all. Hadn’t I cried enough tears in the last few months to fill at least half the ocean that surrounded us? I drew my knees up, burying my face behind them. I was small enough that if I curled up, no one would see me. That meant no one would see me losing it.
I didn’t expect the brush of fabric beside me, or the slight give of the boards beneath me.
‘Nice view.’ Stephen spoke after several minutes.
I looked out, but couldn’t see anything past the blur of tears. ‘Sure.’ I whispered.
‘They’re really crazy down there tonight. I think the barkeep put too much alcohol in the cocktails.’ He motioned towards the undulating sea of passengers below.
‘Sure.’ I whispered.
‘That one better watch out, or he’s going to need you to stitch up his head.’
‘Not my watch.’ I shrugged. ‘By the way, I didn’t ask you to come up here. I came up here to be alone.’
‘I think alone is the last thing you need right now, Lassie.’ He reached out to brush a tear off the end of my nose. ‘Besides, I like it up here, too. Don’t have to watch my back so much.’
I frowned. The music below was getting faster and there was one fool passenger attempting an African jump-up dance. He was really close to the bar, too close. I could already see what was going to happen.
He jumped up. The hand-carved, oaken dragon head didn’t budge. Blood began to flow down the guys head. Yep, idiots in action for sure. I sighed, moving to stand. The whole scene was surreal. The guy was so drunk it was if he didn’t even feel where the dragon’s teeth had embedded themselves in his skull.
‘Damn.’ I cursed, already swinging out from the perch to slip down the ropes. I reached the idiot just as the CMO arrived with her kit. Together, we treated him. Me, I just hoped she didn’t notice the tears.