The Hopeful Wanderer – A Seven Vessel Mission

Seven boats lay keeled over on their sides in the shallows of a cloudy bay. Water swallowed the gray sky above until they became mirrored reflections, indistinguishable, and lapped against the exposed ribs of the boats like a kitten at a captured fish. Wood and metal creaked as the tide began to shift back out to sea.

I crouched on a nearby pier, watching these boats. The sunlight grew wan, wearing on toward evening.

When the tide had well turned, a low creak echoed around the cove. The sound somewhere between the call of whales and the scraping of metal upon stone. Each boat, large and small, shuddered, wood planks groaning as their skeletal frames shifted. Though they did not, could not float, the boats rose on their keels as field beasts rising from a nap, shaking themselves off.

Surprised the boats had, in fact, activated, I flicked a switch on a device cradled in my palm. Seven dots lit up on the radar screen. I’d heard about this curious phenomenon, which occurred on a regular if infrequent schedule, and I wanted to know where they would go.

Ripples grew into waves crashing against the rocks at the foot of the pier. The boats clustered into a formation sensible to some bygone programmers, ranging from the largest in the middle to the smallest at the ends, arranged in a crescent.

Then the boats floated away. No pilots. No captains. No motors or sails. They angled out to sea, ragged black outlines against the setting sun. The tracker screen showed the dots growing more distant, but their glow remained steady and a digital needle pointed in their direction.

Between one blink and the next, the boats slipped beyond the horizon.

And the dots and the arrow on my tracker winked out.

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Mattie McAlavy: On S.G. Baker

By Mattie McAlavy

She isn’t aptly named.

Summer the season is heat, heat, heat and dappled skin and sweat and laughter on a breeze. Popsicles melting, sweet tea sweating, heavy green boughs sighing in the sun. A feeling.

Summer (the) Baker is “dynamite with a laser beam” – pinpoint-direct and molten and focused, focused ‘chaos.’ A bright grin, sharp laugh, a sharper, heart-stopping wink. A true killer queen.

Hers is an overwhelming abundance of assertions, spunk, spitfire…and sorrow: The off-kilter feeling when you find yourself sitting in the shade with an old friend, commiserating (sometimes darkly) and gulping the last of the day’s lemonade as the streetlights and fireflies filter on for the night.

She is incredibly aptly named.

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By Madison Ferril

Mischief is too base a word for what glints behind her eyes. It is more the beginnings of a maelstrom, or perhaps it is a hint of the spark that set the universe into motion. Some would call it magic, but that term is neither broad enough nor narrow enough to capture the essence of Summer.

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By Lyle Hall

Not too long ago, on a terrible day, I thought I should try something. Something I knew, I knew wouldn’t work. It ended about as well as could be expected; with me lying on my back in the dirt. That was when I really saw Summer.

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I blinked, and instead of the Texas sun there was something different. The heat and brilliance were replaced with an amused twinkle in her eyes.

‘Fantastic.’ I mumbled.

She helped me to my feet while a grin tugged at the corners of her mouth.

That was when I finally understood. Here was a girl who could carve a world into existence with a pencil. And who was I to slow her down?

‘I’ll be fine,’ I said, returning her grin.

We parted ways shortly thereafter, but I still see her from time to time. When I look close enough, sometimes I think I can see a shadow of a world she’s working on behind her eyes.

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By Jennifer Archer

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