She Sleeps

Where…” the question trails off from lips that refuse to form the words.

She’s in the trunk.”

Oh, I didn’t know.”

Ahead lays the small storm-torn inlet leading to where the boat is anchored. Now the bridge resists releasing and locks in the open position with a thud. It reaches up skyward as we watch.

I want to jump out of the car and force the bridge down or yell at the man in the control booth to make it come down. A hand reaches over to mine and a look tells me to sit and wait.

We’re stuck here until they fix it.” The car engine is turned off. Everyone sits and waits in uncomfortable silence, but a sigh signals the wait is welcomed.

Wind is kicking up. Is that a laugh? Did I hear her laugh or is my mind wishing it were so? No, I’d know that throaty laugh anywhere. It’s her.

She knows and she’s playing a last joke on us with the bridge. We wait. I hear no more laughter. The groan of gears signals the bridge is falling into position. Just then, though, a bit of a laugh. Now she’s done with us and we can go on our way to the boat?

But the engine struggles to catch. The driver tries again and again, but it won’t start, and I wonder why this is happening. She doesn’t want us to leave. She’s hanging onto us.

We can’t stay. The boat is waiting for us.

Finally, after what seems like hours but must be only anxious minutes, the engine coughs, the car jerks and moves forward at a snail’s pace over the bridge. Even the car seems to be holding us back.

Now the parking lot is in sight and the car is guided to an empty spot.

The dock rocks and water splashes through the slats as our group boards. She is plucked from the trunk and carried in a shopping bag, placed near the boat ladder where she waits. It won’t be long now.

Thornless roses are handed out as the boat slips through the dark waters past the bobbing bait shack with the sign, Anglers, Fresh Bait Here. The salt air isn’t refreshing. Nothing is as usual.

Snacks and beers don’t burden a side table. The beers almost evaporate. Little regard is given to snacks. Alcohol is what we need, not nuts or pretzels.

A call to assemble. A short prayer. The dissolvable white container is retrieved from the shopping bag and lovingly slipped into the water to settle among the seashells and the bay grasses. Quietly and then noiselessly, its whiteness fades from sight as we watch and toss our flowers into the water. How can this be our last goodbye?

Do I hear a cat? There are no cats on this desolate spit of sand in the bay. There are no animals. Then I remember. Her cats were to stay with her.

Now she sleeps in her happy place where she once fished, and we are left to mourn and clear out her house.


P. A. Farrell is a psychologist and published author with McGraw-Hill, Demos Health, Cafe Lit, Ravens Perch, Humans of the World, and Scarlet Leaf Review, writes for, and has published self-help books. She lives on the East Coast of the US.