Photo Courtesy of Carnival Cruises
“Mom, has water ever been this blue?”
“It has, we have just failed to see it.”
Aria’s green eyes remained fixated on the canvas in front of her as her slender fingers brushed her curly brown hair in place.
The Grand Turk Cruise Port was filled with exuberant tourists covering every inch of the port bridge accompanied by roaring winds that competed with the melodies of flying seagulls and steady waves that traveled to the Cruise Center Beach. The sun beamed on Aria’s tanned skin and delivered a luminous glow as it continued to descend.
Carnival Splendor was to leave in less than a half hour, and all Aria wanted to do was be one of the palm trees that were perched on the white beach ahead of her. She envisioned herself being one with the sand as it covered her roots and the blue pigments of the ocean being her reminder of being far from home.
Forever sounded as sweet as the last smile of the sunset.
Aria glanced over at her mother Cara as she studied the water and the ripples that would occur as the wind brushed past the waves and leaves of the palm trees. She had a small smile, and her eyes were closed as she took deep breaths.
“There’s no smell like fresh sulfur,” Cara murmured as her fingers gripped on the yellow railings of the bridge.
Aria scrunched her nose and squinted her eyes.
“Doesn’t sulfur smell bad?”
“Not here,” Cara mused as the wind blew past her black curls. “The smells of sulfur and fried caviar are my home.”
Aria looked down at the water that brushed past the gray walls of the bridge. She felt the mist blow kisses to her face and her hair rising with the humidity of a summer day. Her fingers began playing with the colored beads of her bracelet as her necklace bounced on her chest.
“Do you wish you could live here again?” Aria asked.
The scrapes of shoes and the wheels on carts against the pavement flew in and out of her ears along with screaming seagulls and shrill winds, but it wasn’t loud enough to cover the sigh that came out of her mother’s mouth.
“I do,” Cara replied. “But I needed to live in New York. It gave me a lot more money, and it allowed me to have you and Devin.”
Aria continued to play with her bracelet and ignored the chips of cheap nail polish on her fingers.
“I wish that you guys didn’t fight before he went to war,” Aria said. “It’s been two years since I’ve even gotten a letter from him.”
Cara put on her sunglasses and glanced at her daughter. She suddenly wanted another glass of rum from the tiki bar.
“It’s a complicated situation sweetheart,” Cara sighed. “Devin wanted to make his own decisions, and he’s old enough to do so.”
Aria looked up at the water once again. The orange hues of the sunset added to the blue textures of the ocean, and it helped to soothe the tsunami that started to form inside of her while she watched the wave raise.
“I watched him leave on a troopship, you know,” Aria said. “The water was so brown, and bits of discarded plastic containers and straws were floating all over. I think he would prefer to sail in this kind of water. It’s actually blue.”
Cara’s lips curved and she released a low chuckle.
“Before you were born, I took Devin here when he was a little boy,” Cara said. “He was so in love with the water, he said it was a gift from the sky.” Cara’s hand loosened its grip on the yellow railing, and she released a few giggles.
“He would leap to the ocean when we would be at the beach and look for sea creatures. He wanted to be a marine biologist,” she continued. She paused and held a breath as she continued to think about him.
It has been a while since she had talked about him. She refused to talk about him after their argument, and she hadn’t kept in contact with him for three years. She’d only pray that Devin is safe in the army. If it wasn’t for Aria, she’d drown in her sorrows.
Now, she holds on to her 14-year-old daughter as she’s the only person she has left in the world.
She didn’t realize that Aria had been watching her. She felt Aria’s hands on her shoulders and leaned on her daughter.
“What do you think Devin would do if he were here right now?” Aria asked softly.
“Devin would stare at the ocean, and he would never want to leave,” Cara murmured. “He would probably give me a hug and no longer feel embarrassed about being a momma’s boy.” Aria chuckled.
“Well, then, I’m sure he wishes he could do that right now from wherever he is,” Aria said. “But, at least you can hug me right?”
“Of course, sweetheart,” Cara said with a smile as she embraced Aria. “I love you so much, my precious gem.”
Cara clung to Aria’s shirt and pulled her closer, she held on to the arms that held her just as tightly and the smell of the beach.
“I love you too, Mom,” Aria whispered. “I will always be with you.”
Cara released Aria and cupped her face with her hands.
“Good, I’m always going to need you,” Cara whispered as she leaned her forehead on Aria’s.
“I’m always going to need you too.”
The sound of the cruise horn suddenly blared, issuing for passengers to return on board.
“We should go,” Cara said.
“Let’s go, mom.”
They both began to walk toward the boat with their hands intertwined and wide smiles on their faces. Aria turned and looked back at the water. She watched how the waves began to fade. She thought of Devin and the moment he had with her mom.
She frowned as she pondered on whether that moment made her mom feel bitter about the past. She recalled how tense her mom would be in the cruise ship as they would get closer to the Grand Turks. She had feared that the time here would result terribly even though her mom insisted on wanting to travel here with her.
Yet as she watched her mom enter the boat, she felt her body become light and her heart became warm as her mom tightened her grip on her hands. Her smile widened as she realized that she created a new memory for her mom that would bring joy.
In the end, none of it would have happened without the color of water.