Such a beautiful day, Marilla Jairys thought, as the boat in which she was riding rose and fell with the gentle movement of the sea and the speed at which the boat was traveling.

Marilla was 11.

She was also crippled. She suffered from a rare bone disease that made her bones too brittle to support her weight for very long without the possibility of them bending, warping or shattering.

Marilla’s family lived in, and were caretaker’s for, a lighthouse on a small island a little distance from the mainland.

Marilla glanced with a small smile up at where her mom, Marilyn, sat piloting the boat. She wondered if her mom was enjoying the beauty of the day as much as she was.

Marilla and her mom had left the island very early that morning to head for the mainland, for an appointment Marilla had with a specialist that dealt in cases similar to hers. The visit today, though, had taken a little longer than it normally did.

For a very good reason…today Marilla had been measured for the braces that the specialist was custom designing that might help her to be able to stand and possibly even walk a little on her to without putting her full weight on her legs.

So it was with tentatively hopeful hearts that mother and daughter returned to the landing area not far from the hospital where their boat was moored.

Marilyn turned in her seat for a moment to glance behind her at where her Marilla sat looking right back at her, a slight smile on her lips. Marilyn was secretly relieved to see that tiny trace of a smile, for her daughter had been strangely silent during the cab journey from the hospital to the boat landing, all too plainly lost in thought.

Marilyn had kept a somewhat concerned eye on her daughter during the ride from the hospital to where the boat was tied up, for Marilla’s silence was not at all like her. Especially when one considered that the results of that day’s hospital visit might mean that she would finally be able to get around a tiny bit without being carried or having to use the wheelchair she used when she was at home.

The family had special arrangements with the cab service that had their base near the boat landing. Whenever Marilla had a hospital appointment, either Marilyn, or her husband, Jonathan, would call ahead and notify the cab company about what time they should be arriving.

Upon arriving, the cab driver wold help retrieve Marilla from the boat when it landed and carry her to the cab. When they reached the hospital, there would always be a wheelchair waiting to take her to wherever she needed to go, and the return trip was merely the reverse.

The tiny boat’s occupants would have already been back home this day except that the cab had been a little late due to having had a flat tire.

Marilyn always tried hard to be back home before dusk, for night fell fast where they were, and she did not like being out on the open water in the dark, with only a compass to guide her.

The trip from the mainland to the island normally took about two to two and a half hours, depending on how smooth the seas were. If the sea was relatively calm, they made good time, but if it was a little choppy, it made their tiny boat’s engine strain and since the engine was old, it had a tendency to quit if it got overheated.

This meant being stranded out in the middle of nowhere till the engine cooled enough to restart it. Marilyn not only tried to make sure that she listened to the weather forecasts for the planned day of travel, but also that both she and Marilla always wore their life vests during the entire time they were in the boat.

But those life vests, like the boat engine…and the boat itself, for that matter…were getting old and worn…

And that fact was about to play a very crucial part in the events that were about to occur…





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