What day is it?
Ever since we made it out to sea I can't seem to find my bearings. There's no land in sight. There’s water. Tons and tons of water everywhere I look.
Isabelle said we would stop in the States somewhere in about a week. We ran into a few issues with choppy water, so we may have lost time. Has it been a week? Has it been longer? I can't remember. How many sunrises and sunsets have I seen on this boat since we fled Toronto and went east?
I don't remember.
But I do remember that we fled because the police were after her again. They had figured out that she had stolen a museum exhibit full of priceless jewels and replaced the with a bunch of clever fakes. And I remember that I had to go with her because I forgot my phone at her house when we fled. And now her house is rubble because she blew it up. If the police find my phone, they’ll know I was with her. They may arrest me as an accomplice. At least this way there’s a chance we’ll stay out of trouble.
We had run off into a system of caves in her basement. She'd blown up the entrance behind us. The tunnels had twisted and turned but it seemed that she knew the way.
The way she got us out was so nonchalant. So calm. As if she had been planning this from the start.
I’m snapped out of my thoughts when she comes out to where I am. She's been trying to get me to smile. She's used food, tea, jokes, kisses, anything she can think of. She even told me that if we got caught she'd make it look like a kidnapping so she'd go to prison, and I wouldn't. But something still doesn't sit right with me.
She was so prepared to leave. Was she like this last time?
"Jolene?" she asks.
"You haven't been sleeping."
She's right. I haven't slept in...
How many days has it been?
I haven't slept since the night before we left Toronto.
"If you want, I could... you know... tire you out a bit?"
My cheeks flush and it isn't just from the cold.
I'm about to say no, but something stops me.
Maybe the exhaustion is what stops me.
I try to come up with some flimsy excuse. I’m not sure what I want. I shouldn’t fool around with her unless I’m sure I want to and I’m in the right state of mind to do it.
"What about driving the boat?" I ask. It’s all my tired brain can come up with.
Okay, that excuse is not as flimsy as I thought it would be.
"I can set it to autopilot, but I'll take the hint. I've been doing the driving so I can give you space anyway. I know you're still mad, so..."
"I'm not mad."
"No. Not really anyway."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean... you did leave me three years ago. The last time the cops showed up, you made an escape. I was a bit panicked when I saw how prepared you were this time, but you took me with you. You could have left me behind at any point after we got out of the tunnel and you didn't. I'm not in the right state of mind for any... exertion... but... I wouldn't mind cuddling for a bit if you're up for it."
She kisses my cheek and smiles.
I take her hand and we walk towards the bedroom. We take off our sweaters and our shoes and we curl up together under the covers.
When I wake up, my head is resting on her shoulder.
"Morning," she says.
I'm groggy. My head is fuzzy. And not in that 'just woke up' kind of way. More in a 'just woke up from a coma' kind of way.
"How long was I asleep?"
Isabelle shrugs, "a couple of days. You didn't miss much but you should probably eat something."
"A couple of days?"
"Well, you were up for like a week before that, so I thought it would be mean to wake you."
"Yeah? We left Toronto nine days ago."
"Nine days... did you drug me?"
"Of course not! I'm not that kind of person. I offered around day four but when you said no I dropped it, remember?"
"No... I don't remember..."
I hold my head in my hands.
I don't reply.
"Jolene, come on, you're scaring me."
"I don't know what's wrong with me."
She rubs my back.
"We'll be stopping in New York City in a few hours. We could walk around on solid ground for a bit. Go to a nice restaurant. Get some more supplies. I'm sure you're getting tired of wearing the same outfit. We could even stay in a hotel. I know showering on a boat isn't comfortable, so..."
I kiss her. She pauses for a moment before she kisses me back.
She holds my face in her hand when we break the kiss.
"Will that help? Stopping in New York City?"
"Will we be stealing from a museum or two?"
"I'll leave that up to you. We're already on the run, though, so maybe we should lay low."
"How low will we be laying?"
"Not too low. I've already booked a suite for us at The Plaza. I also made us a dinner reservation at an Italian restaurant near Times Square. But I'm using one of my aliases to pay for everything."
"Does the hotel have Wi-Fi? I have some course work due soon."
"Library Science or Archaeology?"
She remembered. I'm working on two degrees. It eats up a lot of my time, but when she left me three years ago it was a welcome distraction.
"Both. It's midterm season."
"I'll have Wi-Fi and a VPN installed on the boat and at our final destination. In the meantime, I'd suggest staying off the internet. We could go to the library. Do our research old school style."
My face splits into the first real smile I've had on my face since we left Toronto. When Isabelle sees that I'm finally smiling, she grins. I kiss her. She pins me and kisses me back passionately.
When she pulls back my face is flushed.
I'm about to suggest that we fool around a bit, but she gets up and extends her hand to me. I take it and get out of bed. I throw on a sweater and my shoes.
"Let's have some breakfast."
And for the first time since we left Toronto, I'm actually hungry.
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I really love this story! The only thing about it would be at the beginning-some bits were in past tense that should’ve been present and vise versa, but you’re a great writer! I’m definitely going to read more of your stories!
Thank you for your feedback! I'm a little confused by it, so I was wondering if you could provide more detail. After seeing your comment I reread my story several times and I had trouble finding the parts where you noticed the odd tenses you mentioned in your comment, so I was wondering if you could specify. I was going for a style where the story switching to past tense indicates that Jolene is reflecting on the past. If you have any advice on how to make this clearer to my audience in the future, I would love to hear from you! Again, thank...
Of course! The main parts I noticed were "I’m snapped out of my thoughts when she comes out to where I am." Which is partially the passive voice making the present and past tense feel odd. While yes, "I'm snapped" is technically present, it sounds too much like past tense for a story that goes back and forth between reminiscing and current thought. "I snap out of my thoughts..." Might have been better word choice here. "If the police find my phone..." was another moment that threw me off, as it's still in her 'thinking of what happened and i...
Thank you so much! That's really helpful! I will take your suggestions to heart and edit this story soon