At the river, Tranzi stands on a boulder with her hands comfortably at her sides. Stefan approaches. She turns to her right and says to him, “Stefan conditions have changed. The wind is stronger now coming downstream.” She pauses squinting. “I need ballast low in the canoe. When we cross, you’ll need to lie in the canoe with the pack on top of you to stay out of the wind and to give weight.” She looks deeply into this face. He cannot hide the twitch of his jaw.
She steps down to steady the canoe for Stefan to get in. John watches from above and sees Stefan standing on the rock looking stunned. He does not know what Tranzi has said, but he can see its effect. Stefan bites his lower lip and turns with some decision in him.
“Tranzi, that’s going to be pretty difficult for me to lay on the bottom of this canoe. I mean, I’ll basically be trapped,” Stefan says.
“I know Stefan,” Tranzi replies with an even tone under which Stefan feels her meaning. She continues. “I know there are other trips out there.” She adds a Marlene Deitrich slur. “But after all there is this trip here.” Looking into his eyes.
He draws his head up breathing deeply and holds the breath looking up into the now cloud painted sky. Letting go of the breath, he says with his head still looking up, “I met someone at a workshop in Massachusetts. A beautiful, elderly woman. Lots of experience of life and of her heart. We talked after a day of painting the out-buildings. She helped as she could, but more than moving about, she sat. I could feel that she was being a great help to us. She told me had had cancer when she was 40 and lost a breast. It was a terribly big shock to her. She mourned for some time.” Stefan looks down to Tranzi who is seeing him silhouetted against the sky. “You want my head in the bow or the stern?”
“Bow,” she replies squinting.
It’s incredible to Stefan that he is laying in the bottom of canoe crossing a river the colour of day-old tea. Tranzi is straddling his knees, paddle in hand while John pushes off. The river is much quicker for Stefan than if he could see. When the boats shifts in the swale of the main channel, Stefan can see the dark water brimming over the gunwale. It’s not any better seeing it. The taste of puke inches up his throat.
Tranzi is so slight against the sky. She moves her paddle with quickness. Her eyes shifting and following here and there. Assessing. Weighing. Using the river to pull us along. He can sense her influence on the canoe through its shell, her deft control. She’s moving from one lull in the channel to the next.
Without looking down, she says “Brace yourself.” They skim past a large boulder and the scraping sound is intense against his skin.
“Here we go,” Tranzi says and the canoe lurches down a short rock ledge. Stefan is sure that they are turning end over end. He screams. A narrow cleft opens in Stefan and he moves into his body bracing against the shell of the canoe. A taste of blood is in the mouth.
He is on the swing in the park. He is 5 years old. The swing goes too high. He’s going to fall badly when the chain torques and snaps him out of his seat. He is there. He is here. He is given to bring here, there. He is self backwardly compatible. An occasion of understanding. Healing is entering. Echoing back through the channels of the self in time. Something is being polished.
The canoe crashes again into the rocks. He snaps forward and knocks the pack out screaming. Baeth picks it up and eyes him. They have landed. Stefan exits the boat and is looking for his legs, walking the drunk’s walk.
Tranzi sits in the canoe, head down, stretching her neck, side to side.
Baeth steadies the canoe on her haunches. She says in almost a whisper into Tranzi’s ear, “Tranzi, I see this whole crossing thing is only going to work right now for me if I come back with you. I’m sorry if that’s more work for you.”
“I agree,” she replies, “Stefan needs to be alone right now. Besides,” she smiles with a sashay, “you’ll be working too.”