The Boat to Bliss

Heather Hunt

Heather Hunt is an author, poet, & video artist who lives in Vancouver. Originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, she holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours in English and Creative Writing from Concordia University in Montreal. Hunt’s writing and videography serve entertainment and queer feminist activist purposes. She has written two young adult queer fiction novels, which she self-published in 2010 and 2014 respectively. In August of 2019, Montreal Writes Literary Magazine published her short story “How to Win Solitaire” as part of their Pride Issue.

Five months after meeting (only seven or eight major fights in), you took me to an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. Everyone wore white. The first night, there was a bingo party at the outdoor bar. Under the star-packed sky you muttered, “It’s always rigged. The first one to get bingo knows the caller.” I wondered how the first one knew the caller, because the first one was a loud old lady who’d flown in with us from Montreal, and the caller was the chef who had grilled our fish dinner an hour earlier. We dabbed inky little suns for three minutes before ditching to wade in the tide.

The hot breeze preferred my floral romper undone, and you agreed, and the ocean wanted to swallow us; I sometimes wish it had. Your friends might have recalled us as lovers, not sewer rats with tangled tails. We let her lick us up to our knees and spit on our thighs before we crept back out. Lying in the sand, you asked if I was seeing the same two moons. A trail of cigarettes followed us to our room.

I awoke with a mascaraed pillowcase, skin oiled with cod perfume. My shit smelled sweet; we don’t process cocktails as well as we think. We made too many visits to the breakfast buffet for single flash-fried eggs. When we had finished eating, the hotel receptionist sang into the humid air, “Ladies? You wanna try snorkeling today?”

Three mimosas without juice had me giggle in response. My giggle had you secure my elbow between your thumb and forefinger, hissing, “The ‘Boat to Bliss’ is a good old-fashioned dead promise.”

We headed for Bliss via speedboat. The waves were immortal, and they walloped our asses with the wooden bench, each less considerate than the last. You took a photo of me sweating my indulgences in a cropped white tee. Vacation hair, I called those shitty blond kinks. I will never remember what my cup held. My back was splashed in a confident rhythm, and I understood it belatedly: all of the seas in the world are united by their own wet medium, and they were imploring me to remember my spine. Retrospect chafes like terrycloth on a sunburn.

Boulders in the distance kept their lower halves private under water. Our transience did not impact their stillness, but the surf spanked their mossy angles as we approached. We slogged across the boat in flippers, and when our masks fogged up we sniggered. You dove first, then me: I needed reassurance; you needed company. Water dripped through my snorkel and for once I had to breathe instead of drink. I submerged my ears, generating defined glugs as CO2 escaped.

Your hand swayed with the water’s heft under my earth-turned face, your fingers pickled by tropical brine. It’s hard to regret the past when the elements increase your age by 30.

Back in Montreal, we were chugging shiraz on Tuesday nights, producing the violent crescendo of our only song. I was slamming your guestroom door and buckling at its base and begging my underwhelming physical existence to keep you on the other side. I’d focus my eyes inward, on another life: Nintendo games with four gentle siblings, a suitcase full of my own Barbies, a teacher who threw the chocolate in my direction. The framed robin liked finding me on the hardwood, but my drained heart would channel minimal solace. Losing inertia, I’d sleep.

I couldn’t identify with the tortoise retreating into itself, because my attempts at self-protection wavered during next-morning excavation. You barely had to touch my inner thigh to make forgiveness trickle. I said yes when you kneeled in the snow on St. Catherine Street, but never sparkled like an amphibian mystery when nightclub acquaintances asked me, “Have you two set a date yet?”

As long as there were lights and colors, you never needed a hand to hold.

In that Caribbean saltwater solution, we were 100% equal, both clumsy and submissive to our fluid surroundings. No one had to get all the glass into the dustpan without perforating her knees. No one had a tub to bleach or passengers to please. Accusations were postponed, rendered irrelevant by your inability to speak. Neither of us could choose which patch of the other’s skin would undulate. No one cooked poorly out of spite. That was Bliss, some stretch of sea with sobering remoteness. Your distrust waned as hundreds of soft little fins surrounded our human limbs.

Then the captain whistled and we hurried on back.

Pour citer cette page

Heather Hunt, « The Boat to Bliss », MuseMedusa, no 8, 2020, <> (Page consultée le ).

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