2018 marks the beginning of the eighth season of R.B. Wood’s WordCount Podcast! I’m so grateful I connected with Richard and discovered his podcast, hard to believe my first story appeared on his show March, 2011. I’ve been a happy regular (or irregular, as Richard calls some of us) ever since. His forum has allowed me to pen more than sixty pieces, all of which you can find here.
For this episode, the picture of two lobster boats frozen in the Boston Harbour provided the prompt.
My story inspiration
I hate the cold. Snow, ice, and boats don’t normally figure into my stories. Still, I love a challenge and even an unromantic scene of frozen boats can tug at a reader’s heart under the right circumstances. “Frozen Memories” is my attempt to warm up this cold season, and I hope you like it.
You can also listen to me reading the story on episode 72 of R.B. Wood’s podcast.
NOTE: The written version of this story is slightly different from the audio. I added a few extra lines after I had already sent the recording to Richard. Because I was away when he publicized the show, I had some time to consider details which I believe improve the story.
* * * *
In less than 24 hours, another two feet of snow blanketed the city and the mercury plummeted, yet again.
Life in Boston came to a standstill. This was after the city had already suffered the worst storm in its history a week earlier. Snow removal crews had barely cleared the main roads before meteorologists were forecasting more snow. This would surely be a different kind of Big Dig for Boston, they said. Cleanup efforts seemed pointless.
My walk this morning was particularly difficult, as I knew it would be. I trudged through neighbourhoods, which had yet to be shovelled, opting to walk in the middle of the streets whenever possible. Only a few drivers braved the roads anyway, and unlike the majority of residents, I wasn’t heeding the mayor’s warning to stay indoors unless it was essential to go out.
For me, today was essential.
As I entered the public walkway along Boston’s waterfront, a childhood memory came flooding back. I was a young girl again walking with my dad. He had brought me here to show me the boats in the harbour. It had been cold and snowing that day as well, but unlike today, the bay had not frozen over.
“Pick me up,” I had said to him, my arms outstretched to the sky. The barrier that wrapped around the walkway and kept pedestrians from falling into the water blocked my view.
“Come here, sweetheart.” He swooped me up and sat me on the metal railing with my feet dangling over the water. “My little girl gets a front row seat to watch the boats with me,” he said proudly and wrapped his arms around me.
I swung my legs back and forth kicking snowflakes in the air even as I looked at the dark swells below. How easy it would’ve been to fall in and be swept away to sea. Mom would’ve berated Dad for being so careless with me, but Dad never lived his life in fear. In his presence, everything was possible because he made it so. That day, we stared at the boats in the Massachusetts Bay, and Dad hummed in my ear. I wasn’t sure if he hummed an actual song, or he just made it up as he went along. It didn’t matter though, what I remember was the comfort and security I felt at that moment while leaned back against his chest.
It was the best day of my life in the short time that I had with him.
Dad passed away later that year. I could not understand his sudden disappearance, nor fathom that I would never hear his voice again. How could someone be there one day and not be there the next? The concept of death was final but unintelligible to a six-year-old. My carefree childhood ended the moment I realized he was never coming back.
A vicious cloud of powdery snow stung my eyes and swirled around me like a tornado.
“Fuck!” I shouted at the sky.
Nothing like blinding snow to transport me back to the present. I spun around and walked backwards to protect my face from the biting current of air. With my scarf wrapped numerous times around my neck and piled high around my face, I found it difficult to catch my breath. When the wind changed direction, I turned to face forward again and ran along the boardwalk to my destination. Once at my spot, I pressed myself hard against the barrier and dug the cleats of my boots into the ice beneath the snow. The railing, which I had sat on as a child almost forty years ago no longer obstructed my view.
When the wind finally died down, I looked up to see a surreal scene of boats trapped in vast stretches of icy seawater. Like statues, they rose from the surface majestic and motionless.
Tears ran in rivulets down my face and froze on my cheeks. In all the years I had been coming to this same spot, I had never felt this cold. With my hands shoved deeply in my coat pockets, I looked toward the horizon. Everything was frozen—the water, the boats, even my recollection of the past was frozen in time.
Perhaps it was stupid for me to return here prompted by childhood memories, but that’s all I have of Dad. So on this anniversary of the best day of my life all those years ago, I cherish the memories and relive that special time when Dad and I stared out at the boats in the harbour.
As always, thank you for reading. ♥
Feel free to leave a comment or question. Feedback, whether good or bad is always welcome.