Hi. I’m still here. I didn’t disappear. The holidays were a plume. I saw snow in California and family in Arkansas and I orbited beneath a long full moon that made the dogs go ape and the humans sleep slow.
After the festivities me and my five suitcases headed back to Juniper in Musket Cove, on Malolo Lailai, in the Mamanucas Islands of Fiji. My suitcases are filled with boat gear, underwear, rainbow spoons, a drum, a headlamp, books, a camera, a paddle board, epoxy, peppermint oil for the roaches, lavender and cedar oil for the moths, and one bathing suit.
It took three planes, three days of quarantining in a hotel, two COVID tests, and high speed ferry to get back. I arrived in the nick of time. Tropical Depression TD03F is shaking up the sea and sky around Fiji. Earth sweating. Waves tossing. Raindrops falling. Thunder rolling. Coconut trees dancing.
TD03F is destined to develop into a category 1 cyclone but nobody has named it yet. A cyclonic storm is nothing without a name. Nothing is nothing without a name.
The ferry ride was all rock and roll with rain gushing out of every cloud. I watched the world out the window, warped by water, like the passing cloud of an octopus. As we entered the reef, the waves turned to jade and the rain fell harder. The Musket Cove anchorage is almost empty, most of the sailboats are long gone, running from this weather. As the ferry pulled up to the dock twenty people sang a Welcome Song. It made me cry. What doesn’t make me cry? A guitar. A song. A hello. A goodbye. I cry.
I slip-slide my way back to Juniper; down a dock, through some coconut trees, and onto the Armstrong dock in the inner circle. I can see instantly that Juniper is sinking. The waterline is two inches above the bottom paint. I climb aboard. The cockpit is filled with water and the cockpit floorboards are floating. Inside the bilge is flooded to the tip top and it smells like a bog with a thousand dead bodies.
I drain my little boat bathtub and read love letters written by Kurt Vonnegut to his first wife, Jane, while waiting for this no name cyclone to arrive. There’s nothing else to do. Juniper is already secure. She’s tied down by three anchors and two palm trees and her sails are all wrapped up.
I haven’t seen anybody since returning. Fiji is “Open for Happiness,” and New Year’s Eve was a super spreader, so a lot of my friends here caught The Vid. I wish I could tell you that I returned as fresh as a daisy and am now living high on the hog, but I caught some sort of sickness in the States too. My head is a balloon tangled in a tree and my nose is the size of a watermelon. You wouldn’t recognize me, I’m all incognito. Not one ounce of me is marigold at the moment. I know what you’re thinking, but all my tests are negative. Must be the Flu. Fly flu, fly.
The cyclone has a name now. Cyclone Cody. It’s my first cyclone with Juniper and it’s a crying shame that the moment the storm peaks, so does my illness. For 24 hours the rain is a wall of mustangs and I’m delirious. My dock lines tug and Juniper whirligigs. All the kingfishers fly away. Then my fever spikes. And the wind moans. And I can’t breathe through my nose. The palm trees come alive and toss coconuts. And my body aches, and my head throbs, and I vomit. The wind is almost 40 knots. I can feel the place where the water breaks. Through the rain. I sleep. I sweat. The fever falls. I watch the panthers through my porthole. My eyes aren’t crystal color anymore, they’re all dark like the sky.
From what I remember of my Cyclone Cody, he was really wet and he rode the wind wild but he lacked devotion or gumption or something, or perhaps it was I who lacked it. I can tell you for certain that Cody was not as near as vicious as my Flu.