“A Mile from Land”
By. Lee McQuinn
(note: all names, locations, and identifying information has been changed to preserve privacy and respect.)
31 January 2017 – Timeline: 1985
If I thought there was a culture shock on Grenada, it held nothing to the light of the tiny island we sailed up to as our first port-of-call. If it hadn’t been for the small group of spear-welding natives waiting for us on the beach, I would have thought the island uninhabited.
‘Are you ready to go ashore, Sister?’ Dr. Stephen asked as he sidled up to me. I looked from him to the Natives and back again. He smiled, but before he could speak, Ian joined us.
‘Wow, where’d you come from?’ My eyes widened.
‘Below decks.’ He winked. ‘Ah, L – I – P’s – Local Indigenous Persons. In this case, the old adage about carrying a big stick applies.’ He chuckled. ‘These people are peaceful. They are as friendly as they look aggressive. You’ll see.’
‘You’ll brief the team before we go ashore, Ian?’ Dr. Stephen asked.
‘Sure, why not.’ Ian winked at me. ‘Whatever you do, Sister, keep your habit on. These Natives respect Sisters.’
‘I – I don’t thing I am a Sister anymore, Ian.’ I reluctantly admitted, exchanging looks with Dr. Stephen. Blushing, I unconsciously brushed a hand over my abdomen.
‘Once a Sister, always a Sister, in my book.’ Ian winked again.
‘I’ll go and gather the team in the front lounge for your security briefing, Ian.’ Dr. Stephen nodded, leaving us alone to talk.
‘I’ll let you know, early. We’ll have a buddy system when we go ashore. You’re assigned to me. The Captain requested that I take special care of you. I think he likes you.’
I rolled my eyes.
‘No eye-rolling allowed, Sister Sarai. I’m deadly serious. Here, you’re like a hot sticky bun… a divine treat that all the men want a piece of. It’s my job to see that they don’t get even a taste of you. As far as they are to know, you are mine. All mine!’
I laughed at him. ‘ I belong to no one.’
Ian snorted back. ‘If you want to live, Sarai, then you’ll pretend really well that you are my girl. I promise, I won’t bite.’
An hour later…
‘All aboard that’s going ashore.’ Captain Merk dropped the gangplank to the lifeboat.