A Sailor Ashore

Posted by in From My Head (Fiction)

Stepping into her parents house for the first time in five years, Millie could feel the walls vibrating, energy pulsing, lights humming on top of her head. Her bones ached for the peace of her cabin, it’s quiet and dark, the wood and cloth that felt more like the skin of a friend than furniture.

Her dad took her coat while she looked for a mat on which to place her big boots. “Oh, we don’t need to take our shoes off,” he said, as she looked with horror at the acres of cream carpet and then the fish scales and doe blood caked in the laces of her Army Surplus footwear.

“Darling!” her mother gushed, crossing the room with her arms spread. “I’m so glad you’re home,” she shouted into Millie’s neck. The same Avon musk they’d bought her as children clogged Millie’s nostrils.  She laid her head on her mother’s shoulder and allowed herself to forget she was thirty. “Come with me, we’ll get you something to eat,” she said. “You’re skin and bones!”Sitting at the table where she’d eaten for eighteen years, Millie was struck that her entire cabin could fit inside this room, outhouse included.

Sitting at the table where she’d eaten for eighteen years, Millie was struck that her entire cabin could fit inside this room, outhouse included.

“We were, obviously, so sad to hear about Jake.” Her mother didn’t stop moving or look at her. A sandwich, cut in triangles, and made on white bread as smooth as snow on a frozen lake landed in front of her. Millie didn’t move her hands. The food would either make her sick or make her stay and she couldn’t afford either.

She excused herself to the tiny, shadowless bathroom. The warm toilet seat caressed her behind, a sensation she could get used to. The miniature soap was wrapped in paper. Millie controlled the urge to fold up the paper and put it in her pocket. She dried her hands on a pristine monogrammed towel.    When she returned to the kitchen her parents were whispering to each other. Looking up her mother said: “We are so glad you’re back! You can have your room. We’ll get you back in college. Find you a job. We’ll help, it will be great.”

When she returned to the kitchen her parents were whispering to each other. Looking up her mother said: “We are so glad you’re back! You can have your room. We’ll get you back in college. Find you a job. We’ll help, it will be great.””I’m not staying.” Millie shocked even herself with the admission. In the half hour that she’d been home the ease of modern life had almost seduced her. They called what she did survivalism; living off the grid, hunting and gathering her own food, and it was hard, but navigating suburbia was harder.  Easy is a trap. She could allow herself to stay broken here, and broken wasn’t living.

“I’m not staying.” Millie shocked even herself with the admission. In the half hour that she’d been home the ease of modern life had almost seduced her. They called what she did survivalism; living off the grid, hunting and gathering her own food, and it was hard, but navigating suburbia was harder.  Easy is a trap. She could allow herself to stay broken here, and broken wasn’t living.

“What?” Her mother red faced. “You can’t go back out there. Look what happened to Jake!”

“An accident. He made a bad decision. I wouldn’t have made the same one. He was the exception.”

“You can’t.”

Thirty minutes after Millie walked in the door, she walked back out, very glad she hadn’t taken her boots off.