The engine rumbled to life and Smith’s eldest son, Andrew, cast off the ropes from the jetty, while Cecilia sat on the aft seat. Shoving on her sunglasses and straw hat, she disguised some of the emotion but couldn’t totally hide it. Harbor Island II pulled out from the ramshackle jetty, setting a slow course across the harbor. Just over seven months ago, she came to the island with a young woman’s fantasies of adventure. She’d arrived seeking independence and freedom from her previous life. Filled with determination and dreams, she’d launched into a new job, a new family and a new life. Now, as she returned to Maui and then to the mainland, she took stock of what that desire for adventure had cost her. So, this was your adventure, Cecilia. To fall in love and then lose love?
From the shore drifted a lilting melody sung by a familiar blend of voices she’d heard many times in the Sunday service.
She rose and stuck her head in the cabin. “What are they singing, Smith?”
“It’s a traditional song of farewell. It wishes you love and success on your travels with the hope that one day you will return.”
She moved to the guide rail, clasping both hands to her breaking heart. The crystal waters of the bay lapped against the gleaming hull of the boat as Smith steered it toward the reef break. Memories flooded back to the day she arrived and her embarrassment at being so seasick, how Beatrice had interrogated her in the Local Store and how she’d been saved by Victoria, her new best friend. A nostalgic smile tipped her lips as the ghosts of her recent past revisited. Watching the people she’d grown to love raise their voices in goodbye, she ignored the hot tears streaking her cheeks.
“I hope one day to return too,” she said aloud.
With mournful voices raised and arms waving white handkerchiefs, they sent her on her way. She would not forget these wonderful people or this place, or the soulful melody which was now etched into her memory.
Not until they became tiny specks on the shore did Cecilia finally sit down. Smith turned and waited for her instruction. She nodded, and he pushed forward on the throttle. Bright and new, Harbor Island II cut through the ocean waves. Long accustomed to the rolling and pitching of the waves, she no longer felt squeamish. She’d matured. For neither the ocean nor life’s challenges held sway over her. Like Harbor Island II forging toward Lahaina, Cecilia was unstoppable in her purpose. Once more she turned away from the past. With jaw set, she faced into the stinging, salty wind, her chin lifted high, and like the cruiser, powered into her future. This will not break me. I am more than this.