a very short trip to the island and back
we took the ferry yesterday, to staten island and back. id never been on it before and she wanted to take me. she thought it would be a fun outing. something different than we normally do. i agreed because it did sound sort of fun and i wanted to be agreeable. i didnt want to be difficult. but i would have been just as happy even if we sat at a bar and traded rounds like we usually do. i simply wanted to spend time with her.
we met at a church near wall street and walked to the ferry from there. she had just come from work and still wore her heels and her black skirt. i was slightly late because the train was running local instead of express but when i apologized she just shrugged it off and said it was fine. i had sort of hoped she would be a little angry with me but then again i was glad she wasnt annoyed. we walked the long way around battery park and i made jokes and told short stories to her and she smiled and nodded and sometimes giggled. we both lit up a cigarette and in between drags we were mostly silent, save to point at someone and wonder what their story was.
at the ferry terminal hundreds stood waiting to be herded onto the boat. she would look back at me and ask if i was excited and i would say yes and it would be the truth. the doors opened and we all shuffled in at once. there were plenty of open seats but we decided on a spot outside on the back deck. i set my bag down and she went to get beers and i looked out over the hudson towards the city and the boroughs and the bridges that connected them all. i checked the time and sighed and willed the nerves away. tourist stood all around taking pictures of the skyline and each other in front of the skyline wearing smiles and sunglasses. i tried to stand in the corner and not get in their way.
she came back with two cans of beer and we said cheers and took our first sips. the wind was picking up and the water was dark and choppy with thin white caps streaking everywhere. she pointed to the statue of liberty and to ellis island and we both remarked how the big lady looked small up close and wondered aloud what it was like inside her flame.
i took quick swigs and hoped the beer would dull me some. she stared out over the water and i stared at her. the scar beneath her eye and her small, even lips. her chin and the way her bangs swept across her forehead. her thin neck above the collar of her shirt. she looked up at me and asked what i was thinking.
nothing, i said.
you never tell me anything anymore, she said back.
we docked at staten island and everyone merged from the ship. her and i sat on the pier overlooking water and smoking cigarettes alone. we talked about the weather. about friends we had that neither of us knew. people in our lives outside of our life. the life we have together. i tried to be charming without seeming like it. i avoided topics that involved how i felt for her. she didnt mention how she felt for me either but i dont know if she was avoiding it or if there was just nothing for her to say.
after a few cigarettes we decided to get on the ferry going back. it was her decision even though she had said to me, "you decide when we go back, this is more your trip than mine." but i couldnt make up my mind. i just wanted to stay wherever we were and talk with her about nothing. i didnt care how long we were there. finally she said she had to pee and that is how the decision was made.
on the way back we stood on the front deck and the wind whipped through her hair and her clothes flapped behind her and i silently admired the way she leaned into it. we had another can of beer and i grew anxious the closer we got to the city. i took long deep swigs from my beer can and she took reasonable sips, keeping pace with me. the gust grew vicious on the deck and the water rolled and crashed in small white waves behind and in front of us. she buttoned her sweater and her small frame swayed from the water and the wind and i watched her curves pushing against the blasting breeze of the hudson currents.
im going to blow away, she said.
no you wont, i said, i wont let you.
and there i wanted to hold her but i didnt dare. i took another swig from my beer and she took another sip of hers. the boat reached the ferry terminal and we walked off with everyone else. one big crowd moving slowly towards the city.