The Voile Rouge: Flash Fiction
The winds picked up as the clouds rolled in as a precursor to a storm. Sandy was trained on how to handle storms on the open water, but no amount of training can cover the harsh facts of a storm. Her day turned to night as the clouds covered the sky and the winds picked up. The waves went from a calm almost placid tranquility to a rough and turbulent maelstrom of breakers and sea spray. Sandy already had her mainsails tide down running on her storm jib. She had sailed before in a storm with her mainsail, but the storms on the lake were very different than the open ocean. She was miles away from any land or anyone that could help her.
Sandy set sail under the cover of night, hoping she isn’t noticed until it was too late. The Voile Rouge or red sail was her boat, but at thirteen, her parents didn’t want her to sail alone on open water. They would have the boat sent back to Ohio where she would sail Lake Erie staying close to the shore. Sandy had other plans; she would set sail for Europe on a quest that started long before she was born. She spent most of her life on a boat, sailing in the open ocean and small lakes, but never alone. When her family moved from Annapolis Maryland to Mentor Ohio, she figured her chances of sailing the deep blue were over, until the Voile Rouge became hers.
The storm disappeared just as fast as it appeared, leaving a clear starry sky. Sandy stayed away from the shipping lanes hoping to remain unnoticed. She had a mission and getting caught wasn’t in her plan. Her short-range radio was on, but no one was close enough to pick up. No chatter, no noise, just silence and all the stars in the sky. She thought about her friends back home and how they would freak being surrounded by all the black nothingness of the open water. Sandy never knew the open ocean could feel so calm. She was soaking wet from the storm, but she didn’t want to let this moment pass her by, so she sat there wet, starting at the stars.
Sandy went inside and slipped out of her wet clothes and into her spring-suit a wetsuit with long sleeves and exposed legs used by people to surf or snorkel. She didn’t have time to pack her full-body wetsuit or much of anything. She preferred to wear the suit over a traditional swimsuit or a girly bikini. The suit kept her warm in the water while giving her a freer range of movement where a traditional suit would either rode up or fell off. Before she slipped on the suit, she did her necessities knowing she might not get near the head for a while. With her long hair tied back and, in the suit, Sandy was ready for the trip. Her mother hated the water and her father worked all the time. Sandy was raised by her fraternal grandmother and her great-aunt Judy. Most people called them tough old broads, her grandma Hedda sailed from France back in the 1930s with her younger sister. Judy smoked cigars and talked about having a man in every port. Hedda’s husband Derik died in the war leaving her to raise three boys under the age of three just as the war ended.
It was 2004, her father was now sixty-one and close to retiring. The Voile Rouge a 27-foot Albin Vega was Sandy’s boat, but her father made it clear he was going to sail it when they got it to Ohio. Sandy was thirteen, the youngest of the four girls and to the family, she was always the baby. She had no voice in a household of opinions and screaming hormonal teenagers. She watched as her sisters demanded, screamed and threw things at their parents in protest to the move. Sandy tried her best to be accommodating only to have her cooperation used against her as everything she loved was quickly taken away to help make the move easier on her sisters. The boat was on the chopping block until her father was able to secure a berth on Lake Erie, only to have him tell her the boat was going to be his.
The winds picked up and soon Sandy found herself sailing her way to France. She didn’t know what she would do where she got there. She didn’t have a passport; she was an underage runaway in what could be called a stolen boat illegally entering foreign waters. Her grandmother made this trip every year for years sailing to the place that she said made her what she was for better or worse. The ocean became rougher with swells as tall as a building. She knew how to read the wind, how to use the wind to her advantage, and how to have her lines. Her Aunt Judy showed her how to use the marine compass to navigate and how to use the stars to do the same at night. The trip was going to be a rough one, but she promised her grandmother she would dump her ashes on the beach just outside of Normandy France where her grandfather died on June 6, 1944.
© 2019 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron