“I didn’t know then what I wanted, but the ache for it was palpable.” ― Sue Monk Kidd, The Mermaid Chair
For the Love of Meera
Chapter 4, Scene 1
White ripples of light drifted along the hull of the old Chris Craft. The gentle undulations of the Coral Sea cast a spell on the boat as it rocked in the light green tinge of liquid light and shadow. The anchor held her fast. My fingers ran along the keel feeling for cracks or movement out of sync with the sensual rise and fall of her bow in the calm seas.
Bubbles erupted from my regulator and scurried up the wood lapped side as the grey-white blur of reef sharks drifted along in the current sensing the frantic climb of released air to the surface. My eyes strained through the distortion of my swim mask. I searched for flaws in the hull that would end Derek’s dream of finding Meera.
Finished with the inspection, I flopped down on the deck and ran my fingers through my hair as the cool water ran down my back and pooled on the worn teakwood. Derek was sweating in the sun lashing down all the supplies and gear we stowed in plastic fifty-five-gallon drums.
“Did you remember our rum rations matey,” I chided Derek.
“Ha, the love of your life is waiting on the rocky shore for you, and you only think of rum,” Derek fired back with a wink.
I laughed at his disapproving glare fired my way and shot back. “We need medicine, and millions of British sailors can’t be wrong about rum curing what ails you. Besides, if I do find my true love waiting on a flat rock by the sea, I’m going to need a stiff drink.”
“Are you going to lounge over there daydreaming or help me finish lashing down the supplies so we can get going,” Derek could be testy when he had work to do. I got up to help as the afternoon sun dried me out and parched my salted skin.
We spent two months getting ready for this adventure and Derek devoted himself to getting back in shape for the voyage. I looked over at him and admired his dedication to what could be a fantasy created in a wounded mind. He was a tough old salt with an iron grip and strong back. I’d grown to like him. He’d cleaned himself up and thrown everything he had into proving he could be useful and trusted. He did it all for his mermaid.
A man doesn’t act like Derek did over a sea story to get a free beer off of strangers. I knew he was the real deal and Meera was too at least in his mind. What this meant to me, I wasn’t sure yet. All I knew was, I wanted to find out for myself.
The SS Meera eased out of the lagoon and turned southeast with our backs quartering to the setting sun. “Derek, do you still want to plot a course north of New Caledonia toward the Vanuatu Islands?”
“It’s the course I took that day. We’ll pass through a chain of islands in the South Pacific that ends on the shore of Chile if we screw up and go too far, Derek reassured me. Meera is waiting for me somewhere between the Vanuatu Chain and French Polynesia.”
During our map recon, I spotted some deserted islands that fit Derek’s Description southeast of Fiji about 1,600 nautical miles. He thought that was where he was picked up after the storm that washed him off the island. I felt it in my gut. This location was where we would find Meera.
The sun set the clear emerald waters on fire. Small wind-whipped whitecaps blazed like rolling lightning as the sky shifted from bright cobalt blue to swaths of red, orange and bright yellow-gold. The engine purred like a mighty feline as she rode low in the following sea. The Meera made way with a heavy load of dreams and anticipation played out in our gaze toward the burning horizon.
We chose to sail at sunset under the dying sun to make it hard for anyone to follow us. Soon we’d be lost to radar in the reflection of islands and shifting currents flowing over a massive underwater mountain range. We didn’t want any company or curious thieves to hijack us on the open seas. We had no plans of sharing the treasure we sought.