The boat sat, as it always did, in the middle of the field. Abandoned, or so I assumed. It never moved. Never swayed. It lived there, in that field.
I was sure.
Because what boat sits in a field and doesn’t wait? What boat sits in a field and thinks “yeah, this is what I was made for?”
It sat in that field.
And it waited.
And every time I passed that boat, gazing at it from my moving mini-van, I couldn’t help but think that, maybe… just maybe…
…it waited for me. It was never my plan to take to the seas. Really, it wasn’t. In fact, I was quite terrified of the ocean. I didn’t know how to use a fishing rod. Wasn’t into navigating. Knew nothing about the stars. Fish freaked me out, and I hated the way they smelled and tasted and felt. Even seaweed was repulsive to me. Nothing about the ocean piqued my interest.
So I had no plans to take to sea.
But, I’m also not some god, you know?
I don’t have control over stuff.
Definitely not over something like the weather.
So, when the surprise tsunami hit, we were all taken by storm.
We were on our way to school, heading up Rogers Road–the usual route to school from the farm.
And we heard it over the radio.
An unpredicted, unprecedented tsunami was striking the coast. It had already wiped out the city.
And it was washing over us as well.
I couldn’t believe that.
Couldn’t believe it.
But, for some reason, I did.
And I acted before my mom could.
“STOP THE CAR,” I ordered.
Much to my surprise, Mom did. Probably, in the confusion of processing the situation, and in the wake of my sudden forcefulness, she’d taken my order. Regardless of why, I’m glad she did.
I got out of the car.
“Hector, where are you going?” she shouted.
But I just kept walking.
I don’t know why I’m like this, to be honest. Always weary of things. Of the sky, the earth, even people. I was always prepared for them to betray me. To run away, hide out somewhere. I had a backup plan for everything.
Even—as crazy as it seemed—this.
Without hesitation, I went to the boat.
The boat that I’d inspected earlier in the year.
The boat that I’d been steadily filling with supplies.
The boat that, for whatever reason, was built for this sort of thing.
I don’t know who it belonged to. Who had put it here. Who, like me, thought the worst of this world. Who was preparing for this situation.
But, as I entered the boat, I felt kind of bad.
Because they’d done a good job of building this ship. Of making it both ship and submarine. Of ensuring that people would be safe from any whether inside the hull.
And I felt bad because their work wouldn’t pay off.
Not because I was here first, and finder’s keepers or whatever, but because I knew they weren’t going to make it to the boat on time. Because I knew that they’d abandoned this ship, aptly named Last Hope.
I climbed aboard.
My mom and little brother followed, both of them confusedly hollering at me that this would never work. That we needed to get going. Drive away from nature.
Which was silly.
Didn’t everybody have that idea?
Wouldn’t it be impossible to get away?
We would drown if we did things that way.
Sometimes it isn’t best to run. Sometimes the only answer is to hunker down.
Once we were inside, I locked the boat. Turned on the oxygen tanks. Strapped myself in to a seat to prepare for the inevitable crashing wave.
And, when it came, I wasn’t surprised.
Because I had something over on fear. Over this disaster.
When the wave struck us, we went sideways. Then we flipped a few times. Mom screamed, and Frankie cried the whole time. He cried up until we stopped flipping. Up until he figured out that we were now gently rocking on top of the water.
And then, when I felt sure that the worst was over, I emerged on the deck.
It was kind of surreal.
Seeing the water beneath us, washing over the land triumphantly. Feeling the same victory at not being beneath these waters, but above them.
It was very surreal.
Almost like I was walking into a strange dream.
In that moment, I didn’t realize it, but something had changed. Something had to change, in order for us to survive.
I didn’t emerge a kid.
I came out of the hull a captain.
And, even though the water still scared me, and this situation was still ridiculously bleak, and I knew we would probably have to eat slimy, stinky fish until we were rescued, I knew.
None of that mattered.
It couldn’t if we were going to survive.
So I took a big gulp of salty air…
…and I got to work.
Because the wait was over.