I could see them, six inches from the horizon, running before the wind. I focused the binoculars above the swells, struggling to keep the Allegra in view as the sailboat pitched up and down, surfing the fat waves. Even from my spot on the beach, the rollers invaded my belly. Cursing softly, I lowered my hands, trying to ignore the motion attacking my stomach, in spite of the fact, I wasn’t the one moving.
They’d been laughing. I’d seen that much. Teddy was leaning back over the gunwales—Linnie was turned toward him, angling in. I imagined her hand on his chest. She’d do that—she always touched—a brush of an arm, the hip—though she only did it to men. This trait used to make me smile. It was transparent, her need for approval from any man—though I use that term loosely. She pretended not to know her effect, but she did—even yesterday, when she brushed Jeffrey Pendergast’s hand before turning away. The newspaper boy, for gosh sakes. His face had colored, and he’d stood there for a minute longer than he should have, watching her stroll back to the porch.
Until recently, I’d humored her in this. She’s bloody gorgeous—that black mass of curls tumbling down her back, the deep-set blue eyes and, of course, the figure. Guys always went after her. We were so close though, and I was so used to it, it had never occurred to me to feel threatened. Well, until this damned inner-ear infection sidelined me, forcing Teddy to find another sailing partner.
When Teddy and I entered regattas, as soon as we cast off, we were on a mission, Teddy intent on acquiring the optimum angle to the wind prior to each race, before the starting horn sounded from the committee boat. Then it was all, “Cindy, tighten the sheet,” “Lean back!” “Reef the jenny!” “Come on you bugger! Come on!” during the few times he got caught with the sail luffing. Even after each race, most of which he won, he’d ride the edge of the wind, pulling at the tiller so we’d heel close to 90 degrees, and laugh like a maniac as we screamed back to the harbor.
Two weeks ago though, with Linnie crewing, Teddy came in fifth. Fifth! Once, he and I placed third, and he’d stormed home, flung open the fridge, chugged about six beers and slammed cupboards, before going to bed without me. But apparently, fifth place with Linnie beside him wasn’t an issue. “It’s only a race,” he’d said. Right. When I dared to say that, years ago, he’d looked at me like I was something he’d picked up on the sole of his shoe. Then he didn’t call me for three weeks. I’ll admit that sometimes, I wonder whether he’d ever have called again, if Ron Mehegan, the guy he had crewing instead of me, didn't go to school down south—which meant he had to leave in early-August.
But, it gets worse. Last week, he and Linnie didn’t finish. Teddy said there was an issue with the halyard tangling, but I’d driven down to the harbor when he didn't come home, and there was the Allegra, buttoned up nice and tidy. Her lines looked fine. He didn’t come home until hours after the race. Teddy told me I must have missed him, that he was on Skeeter’s boat a few slips over having drinks, but Skeeter had buzzed by me on his Kawasaki just before I’d pulled into the marina. I didn’t tell Teddy that. Instead, I’d lifted an eyebrow at him, and he’d had the nerve to smirk.
“What? Now you’re my mother?”
Well, no, Teddy, I’m not your mother. She could never come close to imagining what I'm planning. I got the idea from a TV show about harbor police. I’m going to sneak on board and switch the battery to “on.” Then I’m going to prick a hole in the gas line.
I never liked the name Allegra for a boat, anyway.
Andrea at the Enchanted Writer posted first line writing prompts a few days ago. Her instructions were not to stop, or edit. Of course, I did both, but nonetheless, I came up with this in a couple of hours. It was fun...though when I write things that turn out this way, I wonder where they come from.