In The Belly of Vanilla Sky


Photo by Boba Jovanovic on Unsplash

Cocooned between the hull and a lee cloth, my eyes are growing heavy as I watch the ocean. Bang! The boom is trying another escape as a gust gets trapped in the mainsail. The swish of the wake buzzes in my ears. The cacophony of smacks and thumps carried by the rolling swell brings my body to exhaustion, altering my thoughts. Like on a kaleidoscope, pictures are switching every few seconds on that tiny portlight except it’s always the same two pictures: a splash of water and a broken horizon made of more water. I am not sure if I am a fish or a human anymore, or maybe I am a human in the belly of a whale, except this whale is made of fiberglass, and her name is Vanilla Sky.


Saying her name soothes my heart. Her big belly holds me like I am back in my mother’s womb. It moves, it rocks but I am always protected. The wind defies her sails as she carries us to a safer place. The ocean pushes her one side to the other like an indecisive toddler. But Vanilla Sky keeps her trajectory. She is one with the elements, and I am her child.


I lost track of time when the sun started to betray us. Like in a black and white movie, the sky wears all shade of grey. Its companion, the ocean, mirrors the fury perfectly, adding some splashes of whites. It looks like teeth ready to swallow us anytime. Maybe I prefer it when it’s only water on my window, so I don’t have to see those teasing waves.


Another splash and I see a light. I am not sure if I am hallucinating or if it’s real. The rocking of the boat got me dizzy. I get closer to the hatch. If only I could stabilize the cabin so I could see better. But as I am still figuring out a way to steady myself without falling, the splashes start to get less frequent and less intense. Maybe I have a superpower? The light gets brighter, like a laser slashing the darkness, it intensifies. Droplets are blocking my view in the last attempt to play a game I didn’t choose. The slaps on the mast diminish, the squeaky sound of the lines rubbing against the hull stops, what was like a punch from a raging wave becomes a gentle touch. Is it an invitation to come out of my cave?


One foot on the floor, followed by the other one, I can stand without being pushed against the head’s door. I keep a hand on the shelf, stretch out to the chart table, hold the sink, and make my way through the main cabin to reach the companionway. A rush of fresh air fills my lungs, waking all my senses at once. It’s salty, sticky, lively, and goes as a whisper to my ears. One more step, a hand on the winch, I feel the heat radiating on my neck, my shoulders, my back. I don’t have to look, eyes closed, I breathe it all in, the light, the sun, the breeze, the calm.


~Christelle Jorge


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