Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 12

More revelations

I’m off the grid except for occasional encounters with whatever Internet connections I find on my travels. Still, the weekly Wizards episode is better late than never. Now Sarah and Pierre are learning some new details. Watch out for those fortune cookies!

Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 12

Pierre went to the armoire and opened it to reveal a computer work station and a filing cabinet. “I’d been hunting for Eliza for a long time,” he said. “I need to show you what I’ve got so far.” He powered up the computer. “I’d pretty much given up on the search a few years ago. I’d been hitting nothing but dead ends for so long, I’d lost hope. Then two years ago, you showed up at the docks, and something should have rung a bell.”

“I just went down there because I was curious. I didn’t know that I’d get hooked on sailing.”

“And then when you went to get a boat of your own, you got one just like mine!”

“Technically, it’s not really mine. I couldn’t afford to buy one. Runyon lent it to me.”

“And why did he lend you that particular boat, and not some other? He’s got plenty.”

“Okay, it sounds hokey, but as soon as I touched it, I felt it vibrate. It seemed to be calling to me, ‘I’m yours.’ Now I know it’s the magic, and that boat was really meant to be mine. Runyon must have known it, too.”

The computer finished starting up. “Let me show you why I’ve been such an idiot. I should have known you when I saw you.” He made a few mouse clicks, and the computer’s disk started whirring as it launched a program. “This is the software that missing-persons organizations use. It takes a child’s photo, then combines the image with the parents’ adult photos, to predict what the child will look like as he or she grows up. Here’s Eliza as a two-year-old, the last picture I have of her.” The photo was a portrait of a dark-haired, dark-eyed toddler with an elfin smile. “At the time I gave up the search, I had put in my photo, and Dora’s” – here he brought up an image of a fair-skinned, dark-haired woman with movie-star good looks – “and I got an image of Eliza at eighteen. Let’s see what happens when I age her to twenty-two.”

Pierre made a few more mouse clicks, and an image drew itself on the screen. Suddenly I realized I was looking at – me! The hair was longer, and the skin was a bit paler, and the girl on the screen didn’t have the little scar on the left cheek that I had gotten in a childhood bicycling accident, but that girl on the screen could have been my twin. “God,” I said, “it looks like you may be right.”

“Please, don’t call me that. I may have magic, but I’m no deity.” Pierre reached out and took my hand. “It’s funny, really. All those years I was looking for Eliza, I was wondering whether she would love boats. I imagined being with her, and teaching her to sail, and hoping she’d take to it. And it turns out that for the past two years, I have been teaching her to sail!”

“But wait, we don’t know that for sure. Maybe it’s all just a coincidence. Surely there are a lot of girls out there that look like me. I’ve been Sarah all my life, not Eliza.”

“Look, I’m sure. When my second wife ran away with you, she must have changed your name and hers, as part of her plan to escape from anyone who was searching for the two of you.” He reached out and hugged me. “That’s why the magic was drawing us together. Yes, we were meant to be together, because you’re my flesh and blood – mine and Dora’s. And you’re a whole lot like her, too. She’s the only one who could ever beat me consistently in match racing – until you came along. Just like you, she seemed to know what move I was going to make even before I knew it.”

“Well, if I am your daughter, I guess I’m glad I inherited Dora’s nose and not yours,” I said, pointing to the image on the computer screen, of the woman with a slender nose, high cheekbones, arching eyebrows and full lips. “She was gorgeous. How did you two get together?”

“We did make rather an odd couple to look at. We were both on the Olympic team that wasn’t. We met, and one thing led to another, and before too long we were married and had a baby daughter, and we were leading the perfect life.” Pierre’s face clouded over. “That is, until the cancer took over. It happened so quickly; one day she was all right, and just a few months later, she was dead.”

“I am so sorry.”

“Don’t be. That was a long time ago. And I do now have you, and that’s a reason to celebrate.” He went into the kitchen, where he got a bottle of Dom Perignon out of the fridge and two crystal champagne flutes from the cabinet, while I settled on the sofa in the living room. Pierre popped the cork, poured two glasses, handed one to me, and raised the other in a toast. “To finding what was lost!”

As our glasses clinked together, I looked into Pierre’s face and saw the biggest smile I had ever seen on it, not merely happy, but out-and-out jubilant. I took a sip of the champagne, which was lightly tangy with tiny, tingly bubbles. Almost instantly, I felt the dizzying effect of the alcohol in the bubbles. “Whoa, I don’t think I’ve had champagne like this before! Is this another magic thing like the clothes?”

“No, nothing like that. This is simply the magic of very high quality champagne.”

“Well, if I am your daughter, I guess I could get used to a higher-quality lifestyle.” I took another sip of the champagne. “But I’m still not sure about this whole thing, though. I hope you don’t mind if I don’t call you ‘Dad,’ at least quite yet.”

“Since you’ve always known me as ‘Pierre,’ it wouldn’t be fair to expect you to change that. And I’ll keep calling you ‘Sarah,’ as well. It’s how you know yourself.”

I looked over to the dining table, where our mostly finished dinner sat, and I saw the two fortune cookies. I went over and picked them up, handing one to Pierre, and we went back to sit on the sofa together. “Let’s see what our fortunes have to say,” I said.

Pierre cracked his cookie open and pulled out the slip of paper. “Lost is found, and found is lost,” he read. “Well, I get the part about lost being found – that’s obvious now. It’s that second part that worries me.”

“It is rather cryptic, isn’t it?” I said. “But then, fortune cookies are supposed to be inscrutable.” I broke open my cookie and looked at the slip inside it. “Make the most of a new day,” I read out loud.

“Now, that, I can agree with,” Pierre said, picking up his champagne glass in a toast. “To a new day!”

Pierre dimmed the lights, and we sat together on the sofa in a light hug, sipping champagne in silence, watching the lights on the bay and the half moon, made large by the optical illusion of being close to the horizon and orange by the atmosphere, setting among the boat masts.


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