We are in Meganisi port in Greece. It is 1am. There are about 50 boats all politely moored in a row up against the jetty. All is pin-drop quiet.
It is the first night of our holiday and my husband is trying to coax me off the jetty and back on the boat.
My mind is racing so fast it is courting insanity. So first, he will have to coax my mind back. I can’t coax my mind back. Things have gone beyond that. Way beyond.
“Come on,” he whispers, inching towards me cautiously, “get back on the boat.”
I am stuck to the jetty wall like a tick on a dog.
“But what are you going to do?”
“But we’ve got a week’s sailing ahead.”
“I will go to the house in Sivota instead. And stop inching towards me, it’s making me nervous.”
“You’re not thinking straight,” he whispers, standing still, “you can’t go to the house in Sivota. We haven’t booked it for this week, we’ve booked it for next week, after this week on the boat.”
“I’ll sleep right here, on the jetty then.”
“You can’t sleep on the jetty. Can you see anyone here, sleeping on the jetty?”
I look around with wild eyes. It is crucial that I remain stuck to this wall. But there are so many boats. And not one person sleeping on the jetty. There must be a rule against it.
“Where is everyone?” I say, “it’s so quiet.”
“They’re all asleep, below deck, like normal people.”
Or dead, I think. Who would make up a rule like this?
“What do you mean, “normal people?”
My husband wavers between truth and personal safety. Safety wins out.
“I mean people who don’t have claustrophobia,” he says.
“You didn’t know you had claustrophobia until Rudi shut you into a car-boot,” I say, “and that was only a year ago. It’s just unfortunate that I had to wait until now to know I have claustrophobia.”
“Unfortunate?” he whispers, “I’m standing in my underpants on a pier. It’s one in the morning. I’d say it’s more than unfortunate.”
“Think of the car boot,” I say, “remember the panic you said you felt?”
“Ssh,” he says, “you’ll wake everyone up. The cabin is not a car boot,” he continues, “it’s not nearly that bad. You just got a fright because the fan went off and the door somehow closed. You’ll get used to it. And you had a bit to drink before you went to bed.”
“What were my options?” I say, “in the taverna, you suggested that I “drink now, so you’ll be fine later.”
I can’t go through a whole week drinking now so that I will be fine later. I’m a lightweight. I’m shit at drinking. I came to it too late. I’ll be dead by the end of the week. That’s if the claustrophobia doesn’t kill me.”
“With the fan on, it will be a lot cooler,” he says.
“A fan will make as much difference to me in that cabin as it would to someone in Joseph Fritzl’s dungeon.”
“Ssh, seriously, everyone’s asleep,” he says.
“Or dead, or dying slowly from suffocation.”
“Ssh, come on, it’s hardly Joseph Fritzl’s dungeon.”
“Ok then, Joseph Fritzl’s sauna.”
1.30am. I am back on the boat. My husband did well. But that is ALL the luck he’s going to have with coaxing tonight. I am holding my fleeing position on the boat for now, right next to the gangplank, gripping a safety rail.
“So what now then?” he says.
“I’m going to sleep on deck.”
“For seven days?” he says, “where on deck?”
“What do I care where,” I say, “as long as it’s not in Fritzl’s sauna?”
“There,” I say, letting go of the hand-rail.
“You can’t sleep there. That’s the bench we eat on. It’s only four feet long.”
I move towards the bench. I need to stick myself to that like a tick on a dog.
“I am only five feet long,” I say, lying down on it, “what’s a f***ing foot?”
“And there’s a horrible step in it. Look, just there.”
“Perfect for my feet.”
“Your head will be hanging off the end if you put your feet there.”
“Perfect for my head, then.”
“But then your feet will be…”
“I AM SLEEPING HERE OR JUMPING SHIP.”
“…but it’s rock hard.”
“Exactly,” I say, “like my resolve.”
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