Tulia’s parents and the other older folks left a few hours after the sun went down, but everyone else carried on into the night. I noticed that earlier Martin had been avoiding Tulia’s family, but now they were joined at the hip. Martin was the other deckhand and over the past month he and Tulia had become a bit of an item. Having a fling with someone you couldn’t get away from if things got weird wasn’t my thing, but I was glad for them.
Martin and I had hit it off immediately when I’d first come aboard, and for a while that made things awkward between me and Tulia. Until I let slip a story about my ex-girlfriend, anyway. I was glad to see them happy together, but it was hard to watch them laughing, Tulia wiping a bit of sauce off Martin’s chin.
It wasn’t so much that I missed hanging out with Martin — there was a lot of time on the boat and we were still getting our daily card games in. It was more like I was simultaneously worried about what would happen when the inevitable problems between them began, and envious of their relationship. I didn’t want to hook up with another member of the crew. Hell, I didn’t want to hook up with anyone at all, regardless of how pretty Marie might be. But I couldn’t help but miss the weight of someone next to me, the squeeze of a hand in mine.
“Hey.” Christine, one of the other “ladies” on the Bucket, threw her leg over the bench I was sitting on. “It’s good to see those two happy again.”
“Yeah.” She looked at me, her eyebrow raised. “I’m happy for them, really,” I said. “It just makes me feel a little lonely, you know?” I caught her eye and she flinched a little.
“Well, I wouldn’t date anyone I worked with,” she said, a bit archly.
“Me, neither,” I said. “I don’t know how they manage it. But they remind me a little of me and Jeannette and it’s…” I trailed off. Christine’s face seemed to soften a little.
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” she said. “That’s one of the downsides to this life.” She shrugged. “There’s always the possibility of meeting someone in port. I’ve stayed ashore one or two nights.” She grinned.
“Yeah, I’m not sure that’s really my style,” I said and she nodded. “Anyway, enough moping around. This is supposed to be a party, right?”
“Right.” We both extricated ourselves from the picnic table and headed toward the cooler full of drinks. I wasn’t part of the sailing crew, so didn’t have any set duties for getting underway, but I still didn’t want to be hung over the next day so I fished out a Fanta from the melted ice. I opened it and took a swallow while Christine struck up a conversation with one of the locals. I wasn’t really paying attention to their conversation until I heard her voice rise.
She wasn’t shouting, and I doubted that the guy she was talking with even knew that she was upset, but when you live and work with someone twenty-four/seven for a few months you pick up a few things.
“No, I really am the mechanic,” she said, again. “I’ve worked in machine shops and on commercial vessels before this. I’ve been to school and everything.” She smiled nicely and her voice sounded like she found the whole conversation hilarious, but I could tell that she was pissed.
I was just about to go over there and try to help when Mat appeared out of nowhere. “Sorry to interrupt, but can you help me take some of our stuff back to the boat?”
“Sure, Captain,” Christine said and then turned to the person she’d been talking with. “Sorry, duty calls. Nice to talk with you.” She and Mat turned away and walked down the beach to the dinghy.
I wandered around until I found Isaac. “We’re going to wrap up pretty soon,” he said and I nodded. I didn’t know how early a start we were going to get, but I was getting tired anyway. There was a bunch of stuff that would have to be done before we got underway and even if I wasn’t expected to help I liked to do my part. I helped Isaac clear up a few of our things, giving Tulia more time with her family. I knew she wanted to keep travelling, but I also knew that if it were me it would be hard to say goodbye.