Sail Forth – Bronwyn Hughes

As I waited with the crowd, my fingers curled around the phone in my pocket. I suddenly felt light-headed with rage. Before I knew it, I had found one of Coach Kent’s dick pics and prepared a text-blast to send to the sailing community standing before me. I added the note, “Coach Kent sexually harassed me all year.”

Bwoop.

The cloth fell from the roof, but on the way down, it snagged on one of the protruding objects in the mosaic—a teapot spout. We all craned our necks to watch the aerial ladder lower Tracy to the problem area. 

Everyone’s phone pinged. 

I froze. 

Some people glanced down, but most waited to see the mural. Tracy stretched dangerously outside of the bucket to unsnag the cloth, but it caught again on an angel’s wing further down— a broken Christmas tree ornament. Annoyed by the delays, more people looked at their phones. By the time the canvas snagged a third time, everyone was staring at their phones. 

Some kids snickered, while others looked confused. Parents and teachers covered their mouths, embarrassed.

Another ping chimed from everyone’s phones—mine too this time. I glanced down at my phone to find another Coach Kent dick pic—this one sent by one of the other sailing moms with the note, “ME TOO.”

Five more dick pics followed in rapid succession from five other sailing moms. The crowd had completely forgotten about the mural. Murmurs turned to shouting with everyone demanding an explanation from Coach Kent. As he tried to escape, two of the sheriff’s deputies who had been blocking traffic pursued him on foot. The crowd, including Sylvia, swarmed behind to see what would happen.

I watched as the fire truck ladder retracted and Tracy ran to catch up with the crowd. 

Alone beneath the mural, I sat in a rocking chair on the café porch and gazed at the fully unveiled mosaic. The simplicity surprised me. A single sailboat struggled to remain upright at the base of a tidal wave cresting ominously above. Shards of mirror caught the light at different angles, sparkling like sunlight on water. Small and vulnerable, the rickety copper hull clung to the trough of the wave, beneath the towering swell, propelled by the forceful motion threatening it. At the top, the words Sail Forth slanted forward in a handwritten script, as if the wind were blowing the wave, the boat, and all of us into the future. 

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