While the mighty blue mountains merrily tangoed with the slush, the stilled waters, patiently watched the sky pull its grey quilt.
“Look… a boat. There’s a boat out there.” Juan cried out. Alerted, everyone looked up.
“Who can that be? Not one of our men for sure. They all returned an hour ago.” Briza reconfirmed.
It was sharp noon. The fishermen were calling the day off. Everyone was busy packing their stuff.
Juan quickly went knee-deep in the water and shouted back, “I can’t see anyone on the Banca. It seems to be deserted. Maybe it glided with the waves. Should I take the small boat down to check? ” He noticed everyone frown at his thought. He was curious, as always. Ignoring the reactions, Juan hopped on his drift and off he went to get the boat ashore.
The water was strangely calm and clear than ever. He checked his face thrice. No wrinkles yet. Except for his eyes. The pain was visible. Memories engulfed his thoughts. The suppressed tears sneaked out. A sudden feeling of loneliness embraced his entity.
Juan was almost there. A few meters and he can grab the pointed stern of the boat. The mast was up. He wondered of the owner.
“How could someone be so ignorant as to not pull the mast down. No wonder the boat drifted.” There it was. He pulled along the fender and hopped on. There was no one in there. Just a few usual stuff.
He started checking the things, hoping for a clue. A small wooden box grabbed his attention. Hesitatingly, he picked it up. It was skillfully carved with just two alphabets engraved on it – C. A. He wondered what they meant. Curiosity played its part well. Juan tried to open the box. It was locked. He looked inside the barrels and near the helm; under the deflated lifebuoys, and in the drain plug. No trace of the key.
“Phew,” he sighed, and sat to rest a while before rowing back to the shore. Unexpectedly, his eyes noticed something shiny under the jib sheets. He kneeled to get a better look and as he lifted the sheet, he jolted back as if hit by some electric wire. Juan started to shiver in fear, and in reverence. A baby wrapped in ultra-soft linens laid there. The golden locks veiled her face. She was motionless.
Juan looked up and around, to find a trace of an adult. Negative. It was just him and the baby; the two boats, and the vast cerulean ocean, witnessing the encounter. With trembling hands, he carefully moved her locks. Juan stared, bewildered. She had the face of an angel; soft and glowing. He could feel her aura. He bent close to check if she was breathing. Faint, yet, the assurance relieved his dilemma.
With teary eyes, he looked up. Heaven answered his prayers. His Catherine, was back, once again, in the safe sanctuary of his arms.
Together, they set sail for the homecoming.
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