Sail Forth – Bronwyn Hughes

Benny cleared his throat from the doorway. “Can I get some service here?”

Sylvia jumped up. “Benny, we’ve told you not to go behind the counter. You’re supposed to ring the bell if we’re not there.” She never liked for anyone to see her unfinished paintings.

* * *

Our morning rush was busier than usual with everyone coming into town to say goodbye to Coach Kent. 

A year ago, he arrived in Mobjack by boat to open a sales office for an international yacht company to cover the tidewater region of Virginia. Today, he planned to sail away after the ceremony to open another sales office across the Bay. When he arrived, the Mobjack Mirror printed an interview with him where he described his experience crewing for Team USA in the America’s Cup. When he heard that our small public school had no varsity sailing team, he offered to help us form one. 

“Hell yeah, we’re going to win the Baker Trophy,” he had bragged to a group of excited parents. “I only coach champions.” 

His company donated a fleet of international 420 class dinghies. Unlike most high school sports, interscholastic sailing was coed. As our kids competed to make the team, the parents vied for opportunities to chaperone. 

While Sylvia and I served a steady stream of customers, I grew more worried about what Sylvia had put on that wall. After the rush died down, my father-in-law stopped by on his way to the office. Reflexively, I made his caramel macchiato and used tongs to place a blueberry scone on a plate.

“Mornin’, Dad,” I called over my shoulder as I steamed his almond milk. I still called him Dad, even though my divorce was almost final. Sylvia thought he looked like Andy Warhol with crazy white hair and vintage sunglasses, a high compliment coming from her. I admired him too. Dwight Sr. was kind, gentle, and honest—nothing like his foul-tempered, lying, cheater of a son. I don’t know what I would have done without his support throughout the divorce. 

“Thank you, dear,” Dwight Sr. said, taking his coffee drink and scone from the counter. With a tilt of his head, he signaled that he wanted to talk to me. 

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