She approached the day marker warily. She didn’t like day markers, channel markers, buoys, blinking lights in the middle of vast bodies of water. Haunting foghorns. Lighthouses casting their shadow of light across seas made treacherous by the rocks on the shore. All of these innocent navigational aids fed her loneliness. Made her feel mortal. Reminded her that she was lost. That she had always been lost.
Against her will she forced herself to look at the day marker. An osprey roost nestled in its belly. The giant bird surveyed her for a moment and then flew away making a great loud show to distract her from the four baby osprey that peeped over the edge of the well-constructed nest.
The mother osprey called to her “Come away. Follow me. Ignore by babies. Hear me cry now.” An osprey had never attacked her though she knew they were feisty enough to drive bald eagles from their territory.
She had been attacked by mute swans several times when she had been incautious enough to bring her kayak too close to their babies. She always forgave the swans. She loved them blindly. They were not mute of course. When they flew their wings sang out whipping the air into a froth of sound.
She was afraid of the light.
Red right returning. She navigated by the mole on her right arm. It was surrounded by a constellation of freckles hatched by the sun she should fear but didn’t.
Darkness had fallen quickly. The creek was shrouded. The banks lost in night. The watery way home illuminated by those eerie lights that made her flesh crawl.
What forgotten event had birthed this unnatural fear of buoys? Had she once been an osprey trapped on a day marker watching her mother spar with an eagle? Had she been a fisherman who died clinging to a clanging buoy praying for a rescue that never came? Does some dire buoy related fate lie in her future?
“Go toward the light. Go toward the light. It’s waiting for you.”