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David watched his wife and daughter laughing and squabbling affectionately in the cockpit and suddenly it all came back to him in a rush- the deception and the guilt coming at him relentlessly in spite of his earnest attempts to ward it off. His stomach turned over sickeningly with the thought of what he’d done. He took the teak cleaner up to the deck and started wiping the rails.
With each stroke of the rag on the smooth wood, a mantra repeated itself in his head. How…How…How… How could I have done it? He leaned his forehead on the fiberglass, trying to stop the trembling, clutching the stained rag like a lifeline. Suddenly a noise came from the back of the boat and he realized Caroline and Hannah were coming . He straightened up and concentrated on his rubbing.
"We're going to go for a walk around the marina to see who's here," said Caroline. "We'll be back in a few minutes."
David rubbed industriously at the wood, avoiding looking at his wife. "I should be done here by the time you get back and then we can go out on the water."
Windswept's mainsail was up, and the jib was a clean, crisp white against the azure blue sky. Wind filled the canvas with a snap as the sails billowed. The boat immediately heeled over with the force of the wind and surged forward through the waves with barely-leashed power.
Reaching down to kill the engine, Caroline stood to savor her favorite moment in sailing- the first instant with only the sound of the wind and the waves and the feel of the boat under her feet, driven solely by the power of nature. She grinned at David and he smiled back, akin in the joy of that marvelous feeling of anticipation and accomplishment. When he turned back, the smile turned to self-loathing.
Caroline handed the wheel over to David and wrapped her arms around the mast to savor the beauty of the afternoon. She didn't mind letting David have his fun. She enjoyed just being here, feeling the boat slice through the water, heeled over with one rail in the water.
Holding on to the mast with one hand, she stretched the other above her head, getting the kinks out after a hard week at work. Her long brown curly hair was blowing wildly in the wind. She hadn't had enough ambition to exercise before this first sail of the season and she was going to feel it tomorrow. Most of the time it was just the two of them on the boat and she crewed the boat alone, but she enjoyed the work. It was a labor of love.
She loved Windswept more than she thought it was proper to love a possession. The boat had been a part of the family for their entire married life, since it had been their wedding present to each other 16 years ago.