Just the wind in the trees. Another ‘fake’ memory, they’d have said.
‘Come on.’ She tugged at his hand.
She wanted to understand. He released the brakes of two decades.
‘Is this it?’
Was it? Twenty years of sea and bleaching. It had been new then. They had to explore it, didn’t they? That’s what boys did. Explore.
She ran her hand on the friable surface. ‘It’s amazing. Beautiful. Tragic.’
Beautiful? Tragic? No words can describe something that hollows you out daily. His finger traced some faded symbol on the hull.
‘How many died when she went down?’
Only one who mattered and he’d not gone down, not like she meant it.
He stepped back and looked up at the gunwale, now frayed like his memory. Jake’s face peering down at him. That last image, those last words. Then he’d gone, disappeared. Like a ghost.
He’d made it up, he’d been kidnapped, caught by the tide, runaway, they said. No believed him when he’d told them about the voices, the hands that had dragged Jake into the boat. Maybe it was right to say he’d gone down with the rest after all.