Happy Birthday Moira!
The trip across open water went smoothly; the wind remained light, so the sea stayed calm. Yuki found an empty space near the front of the boat and sat down, enjoying the cool temperatures and steady wind blowing across her face. She was exhausted; it felt like she’d been on earth for a a month, but it hadn’t even been one full day. She leaned back against a pile of ropes and relaxed. “I’ll close my eyes only for a second…”
She opened her eyes to find Caroline crouched next to her, poking her arm. “Wake up, we’re almost there.”
It took a second, but Yuki finally realized where she was and what was happening. She said, “Okay, I’m awake.” She yawned and stretched her arms out. It was then that she noticed Kit sitting in her lap, looking up at her.
“He’s been there the whole time you were sleeping. Maybe he’s hungry. Can I feed him? What does he eat?”
Yuki replied, “Um, French fries, as far as I know. But I don’t think he’s too picky.”
“I’ll give him some of my bread, I hope that’s okay?”
“I’m sure that’s fine, thank you.”
She stroked Kit’s head then gently moved him out of her lap so she could stand up. There was a gentle wind as the boat smoothly made its way further up into the cove.
She walked over to Jordin who was still standing at the console, his hands on the wheel. Caroline scooted passed with a huge hunk of bread in her hand.
He yawned then said, “Hey, sleepy head, we’ll be at the drop-off in about ten minutes.”
She felt a little guilty for sleeping while he had to stay up. “Are you two going to get some sleep before you leave again.”
“Nah, not yet, the weather’s too good.”
Caroline came back dragging Yuki’s bag. She let it drop and said, “What’s in here? It’s so heavy!”
“My space stuff, wanna see?” She unzipped the bag and pulled out the helmet.
A look of awe spread across Caroline’s face.
“Would you like to try it on?”
She rapidly shook her head yes and reached out to take the helmet.
Yuki said, “It’s a little heavy.”
With two hands, Yuki lifted the helmet, made sure it was facing the right way, then lowered it over Caroline’s head. It ended up resting on the top of her head; moving like a bobble-head as Caroline turned back and forth. She had to support it with both hands so she could see through the visor and keep it from falling off.
Yuki said to Jordin, “I’m not going to need this for a while, is it alright if I let her look after it?”
“Really? That’s okay?”
“Sure, I’d rather see her get some joy from it than having it sit in the bag.”
“I know I would, I mean she would, be honored to watch it for you.”
Yuki paused for a second, touched by his words. She never expected someone to be honored to have something of hers. “Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome.”
Yuki asked Caroline, “How would you like to look after this for me?”
Her mouth dropped open and the helmet slid over her face as she said, “Really?” She pushed the helmet up so she could see again.
The helmet slid down again as she said, “I won’t let anything happen to it.” The helmet stayed facing forward as she twisted to look up at her father, “I promise.”
“I know you will Honey.” He rubbed the top of the helmet almost knocking her off balance. “Now why don’t you find a safe place for it because we’re about to put ashore.”
Caroline seemed to know exactly where it belonged. Next to the console was a box with a hinged lid. She opened it up, shifted some things around and unfolded a blanket. She wrestled the helmet off and placed it inside, wrapping the blanket around it then carefully closed the top. “All safe.”
“Okay, make ready for landing!”
Caroline asked Yuki, “What about Kit? Shouldn’t he be in his carrier?”
“Um, I don’t know, why don’t you ask him?”
Yuki watched as she went over to Kit who was standing by the front of the boat. After a second, she turned and yelled, “He said he’ll be fine without it!”
Yuki looked at Jordin.
He shrugged his shoulders, “That’s what he said. I heard him that time.”
Yuki shook her head back and forth slowly then looked out to the desolate landscape rapidly approaching. Feeling a little apprehensive she asked, “Uh, do you know how long the trip is to my mom’s? The only thing Qbit said was that my grandmother would drive me there.”
“Wait, your grandmother is driving you? On a four-wheeler?”
“That’s what it says on his list. Why?”
“Well, she’s like a hundred years old. Not that I have anything against seniors, and I think she’s great, but driving a four-wheeler? I don’t know.”
“A hundred? Really? Are you sure?”
“Pretty sure, and even if I was off a couple of years, how much better would that make you feel?” He chuckled.
She asked hopefully, “There’s no way you guys could take me?”
“No can do, kiddo. We need to head up the bay a little further to pick up a couple of people and take them back to Resolute. We won’t be leaving till tomorrow morning and you should be at your Mom’s by then.”
Yuki sighed, “I’m so used to having a detailed plan for everything and here I am going into something completely blind.”
“And deaf,” added Jordin as the boat nudged the shoreline and came to a gentle stop.
She looked at him, “Really? Did you just say that?”
He replied sheepishly, “Sorry, it sounded so much less insulting in my head.” He looked around to see Caroline trying to lift the anchor to throw it over the side. He went up to her and tapped her shoulder, “That’s okay Honey, I don’t think we’re going to need that this time. Do you want to say see you later to Kit?”
She pouted and said, “Yes.” She walked over to Kit who was standing next to Yuki by the front of the boat. She grabbed him and hugged him to her chest, planting kisses on the top of his head. They looked at each other for a moment then he jumped down.
She looked at her father. “He said he’ll see you later Daddy.”
Jordin looked down and gave him a salute, “See ya later, sir. Keep her safe, now.”
Jordin turned to Yuki, “Head up to the top of the bank using those stairs. You’ll see a couple of wood buildings; Your grandmother should be in the larger one. If you see smoke from the stove pipe and the four-wheeler parked out front, then you’ll know she’s there. If you don’t see anything, come back down and we’ll all go up and wait. I don’t want you up there alone.”
Yuki looked up at the wooden steps leading up and over the bank. She turned and asked Jordin, “I don’t know when I’ll be back so how are you going to know when to pick me up?”
“Your mom’s got a radio, she’ll let me know. A lot depends on the weather which can change pretty quickly, so, you may be up here a little longer, give or take a couple of days.”
Caroline had come over to her and said, “Have fun with your mom” She gave Yuki a hug.
Yuki stepped back and said, “I will, look after your father, okay?”
She smiled. “Okay.”
Jordin said from the console, “Naammaktsiarit.”
On the inside of Yuki’s right lens, the words; Naammaktsiarit – Inuktitut- Have a good journey appeared.
“Thank you, you too.”
She threw her bag down onto the gravel then pulled herself over the side and jumped to the ground. Kit jumped over and stood by her feet.
Caroline waved, “Love you.”
She smiled up at her, “Love you too.”
Jordin said, “Before you go, can you do me a favor and give us a little push back. I want to make sure the prop’s clear of the bottom.”
“Sure.” She put her hands up against the bow and pushed. She could feel her exosuit tighten against her legs. The boat slid easily back into the water.
Jordin yelled, “I’m going to start it then wait here for your signal.”
“Okay.” She picked up her bag and headed for the steps. Kit stayed with her as she climbed to the top of the bank. Sure enough, there were the two buildings and parked out front of the larger one was a four-wheeler. Smoke poured from the stove pipe. She turned toward the boat and waved, “Thank you!”
They both waved as Jordin eased the boat out and started back up the cove.
They both watched the boat disappear. She looked down at Kit and said, “Well Bud, let’s go find out what a hundred-year-old woman looks like.”
Caroline watched Yuki wave and disappear over the bank. She turned to her father and asked, “Who are we picking up, daddy?”
“Somebody a hunting party found walking around Polar Bear Pass. They said he was in pretty bad shape and kept mumbling something about having to find a gate to the way back. They weren’t sure what to do with him so they brought him back here. We’re gonna bring him and a peace officer back to Resolute.”
“What’s his name?”
“I think they said his first name is Sterling. I don’t know his last.”