That photo of the Flyer was picked up by the mainland paper, as I had hoped, where it caught the eye of an editor in Cape May. Within a week I had a meeting to discuss a series on old Victorian homes. Despite dark clouds looming in the sky, the forecast called for an afternoon clearing, and Siobhan and I decided to spend the weekend on shore. It would be nice to get away from the island for a while, to leave the sea -- and its monsters -- behind.
We caught the early boat -- that late in the year the ferry only ran twice daily, and the late boat wouldn’t leave until sunset. Ours was the second of only ten cars to board that morning. A misty fog clung to the choppy waters and I could feel the boat’s rocking the moment we drove on. Before the ferry got underway, Siobhan and I went up to the lounge. There they had a small cafeteria and we ate donuts while the boat shook free of the pier. My sister sat by the window, watching the island slip away into the mist. “Can we go outside?” she asked.
I looked out the window. The fog was bright as the sun started to rise and all I could see were a few sleeping seagulls atop pilings. The deck was empty, the other passengers preferring to stay inside on such a gloomy day. Siobhan turned to me with pleading eyes. “Okay,” I said with a laugh. “But be careful. It’s probably slick out there.”
It was. A thin film of sea spray coated the deck, making the wood treacherous and the benches too damp to sit on. Siobhan went to the bow and together we stared out into the fog. I waited for her to mention her creatures -- surely she would see something in this soupy cover -- but she stayed silent. The hungry lapping of the waves against the boat sounded like a hand slapping the water, and we could hear the faint horn of a tugboat, somewhere beyond our sight. Other than that, the morning was quiet.
“You think I’m crazy, don’t you?” Siobhan asked suddenly. Unsure of what to say, I continued to stare out over the water and remained quiet.
She nodded. A few minutes later, she said, “There’s a place out there where time doesn’t exist. When I see them, that place is real -- it’s here, it’s now, just out of my reach. Time stands still, frozen in one of your pictures, always just about to happen.”
I sighed. “We can’t live inside a photograph.”
“But a picture lasts forever,” she argued. “That captured image has to be real somewhere.”
I didn’t have the strength to explain to her the properties of film, the emulsions that created the image into a picture one could see, the process by which the print was created. So instead I reached for my camera, slung over my shoulder. Stepping back from the railing, I raised the camera to my eyes and squinted through the viewfinder. “Smile for me,” I said.
Siobhan turned. Seeing the camera, she smiled brightly. The wind picked up, blowing her hair from her brow, and with a dramatic flare, Siobhan hoisted herself onto the rail to sit on the thin bar. “Careful,” I said, steadying the camera.
“I am,” she said through her smile, and wrapped one arm around a nearby pole.
She laughed as I took the shot, and then the boat lurched. The force threw me back against the benches that lined the deck. I dropped my camera -- if the strap hadn’t been around my neck I would’ve lost it. Siobhan called out my name.
“I’m fine,” I said, getting up. I looked over to the rail.
Siobhan was gone.