An Escape Story

He’d been staying at a motel for a week to work. He was in his car in the parking lot and it was cold.

The motel room felt big. He emptied his bag and his clothes were spread across the room, but it felt impersonal.

He didn’t want to go in there, and he kept a notebook in the car, so he pulled it out and wrote:

The boat was close in to shore. They would have been able to hear the shouts of the tourists in the waves by the beach, but it was early and the beach was empty. There was a mist settling over the water and they heard the rattle of the broad leaved bushes in the wind.

“Sit straight,” the man said. The boy sat straight.

“Good boy. If we’re out there and you get hold of something, there won’t be any time to sit around. You’ll have to react.”

“OK.”

They sat quietly, looking out. The water was still obscured in the mist but the wind had stopped and there was just the slap, slap, slap of the waves hitting the boat. From somewhere on shore, past the road, someone shouted.

The man looked back. He started the motor and headed out to water. The thrum kicked up a wake and broke the quiet. The boy imagined himself diving out of the boat, the ocean swallowing his splash and ripples. Like he was gone. And below would be cool and quiet and still. His limbs would feel light and his body would float without feeling like it was being pulled up. He would stay underneath and swim to shore. The sun would be warm and he would lay until he was ready to get up. Then he would get up. He would walk to the road. He would go north or south or east or west. He would get caught in the rain and the wind and the heat. He would be hot and he would be cold and he would get dirty. He would look like someone people would whisper about as he walked past, but he would know why they did that. He wouldn’t be from anywhere, wouldn’t be going to anywhere. They would lock their doors when he came down their streets, but later they’d throw out unspoiled milk so they could go to the convenience store he had stopped in and talk to the cashier. Occasionally, from nowhere, they’d wonder where he was now.

He could feel the bubbles of the water brush against his cheeks as he dove in. But they were moving fast and the boy stayed in the boat as the engine hummed and the wake grew longer and the land faded.

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