Inkster of the Week: Jonny Leitch

Thursday 23rd March 2023

Here's a clever and well put-together creative piece. The gentleness of the ending is really well worked - impressive for a student just starting out in Year 11!

I've always lived on the island. It's been my home for seventeen years now (my birthday was on Friday). Even though it's the summer holidays, I still help my father and my grandfathers' fishing shop on the end of the pier.

My father says that it's important to continue the shop because it's been here since Old Man Oakland was writing his novel up in the lighthouse overlooking the bay. Every day, I get up with the sun and take our boat out into the bay to check the nets and the fish pots.Today, my best friend Jess came with me because her parents are busy on the mainland. They're always away, which is partly why Jess and I hang out so much. Don't tell her this, but over the summer, she got hot. Like HOT hot. Perfect curves, golden tanned skin, and smooth sandy hair. I can never let her know because it'd ruin our friendship.Anyway, as usual, she knows we're checking the pots, which is always a messy job but is still dressed in an ocean blue bikini. Her green eyes have that same familiar twinkle I recognise when she has the lust for adventure. Somehow she manages to look even more stunning with the wind whipping through her hair. I feel overdressed now with my “My Chemical Romance” T-shirt and baggy shorts, but my bare feet match hers.

“Come on, Jack!” She whines playfully. “What are you waiting for?”“Just taking in the view.” I'm only half lying. The bay looks amazing, but I'm not focusing on that natural beauty.

We hop into the boat, and by the way Jess is standing on the bow, I can tell she is eager to get out on the water. The quiet hum of the motor floats to the back of my mind as we go further out of the bay. As I slow the boat down, Jess leans down and swings her arm to grab the rope that holds the buoy down. As I lean over the side to help her heave the pot aboard, she asks a question.

“So after high school, what're you gonna do?” I explain that I have to stay on the island to take over the family's business and duties on the island. I don't mention that it's also partly because I'm failing all of my classes apart from writing.

She's disappointed because her parents are shelling out to take her to Oxford, but she didn't want to go alone. I look at her while putting the fish into a chilly bin.

“What about Sammy? I thought he was going to college with you.”Jess' eyes flutter, and she looks out to the open sea. “We... We broke up.” She mutters.

In my head, I'm jumping with joy, but in reality, I exclaim, “Oh, how come? I thought you two were lovebirds.”

“Ah, no. We broke up because I love someone else.”

My heart skips a beat, and I ask, “Who?” before I can stop myself. I look up at Jess and notice that she's blushing. Now I'm really curious.“Who's the mystery man?”

“Well…” Her cheeks turn redder still, and her voice jumps up an octave.

She steps toward me and drapes her arms over my shoulders and around my head.

We gaze into each other in the brilliance of the moment, with all focus on each other. Everything falls into a blur until the only thing I can focus on is Jess. The chorus of seagulls and waves merge into a great symphony of nature and love, with a duet in perfect harmony.

                                            *   *   *   *   *

After that first kiss with Jessica, I felt as though the tide had turned in a positive direction for once. Dad seemed to notice a shift in the world as well, because instead of the usual three or four kids from the local primary school that came to the shop for bait, business was booming, and the ocean had noticed too. It became a regular occurrence for me to go out several times per day, just so that the fishing nets would burst with the abundance of tuna, snapper, and marlin. Another daily activity was meeting up with Jess, although she did not come on the boat as much because she had to study for her final exams. I , on the other hand, had to do overtime, for as well as being out on the water, the shop still had to be run, what with all of the customers flooding the doors. Dad even hired Jess's 15 year old brother, James, to run the shop when he’s busy around the house.

I find myself out on the water again, with a full boat load of fish and a truck load of free time before I have to get back to the shop, so I call Jess. It goes straight to voicemail. “She's probably studying”, I tell myself, as I sigh towards the monotone answering machine.

At the end of the tone, leave a messa-”. I shut off my phone and watch the waves roll over the sand bars, like a constant metronome, with the chorus of seagulls, and an over-bridge of salt water spray.

“Maybe next time, Jess.” I mutter, before joining the song with the thrum of the motor boat and the whistling over-bridge of wind through my hair.