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“Breathe, Baby…” and Tina was there, kneeling with her hands on the edge of the dock to float her words to Bette’s ears. “There’s no storm today, ok? Not a cloud in the sky. I promise you it is safe. I will meet you there. I love you.”
Bette looked up at her, anchoring herself, taking a deep, calming breath, giving Tina a watery smile. She tried to answer but the words were stuck in her throat, but Tina nodded, she knew. Bette reached with one shaky hand, accepting the backpack Tina handed her, their fingers brushing against each other. Tina kept talking to her, reminding Bette that she would meet her there, that it was safe.
Bette shifted in her seat, Tina’s words wrapping around her brain and her heart to calm her enough so that she could take a shallow breath, her eyes flicking up again to catch the calm oasis of her wife above her. They maintained eye contact while Jena Beth started the engine, Tina’s smile reassuring, lending courage.
Tina nodded at her and Bette’s hands gripped each side of the boat, her knuckles white as she swallowed the fear, keeping her eyes on Tina as the boat pulled away until the blonde was a tiny figure behind her.
Tina went back in the house to take some Tylenol and use the bathroom, the baby sitting on her bladder, the headache beginning to make itself known. She got dressed slowly , putting on her sneakers and a light jacket and when she was ready, Yaya got behind the wheel of an old Chevrolet, as big as it was wide, and they set off for Turnup’s at what felt like a snail’s pace. They would have to go around the long way where the roads were smoother, there was no way Tina could travel by boat. She fidgeted and worried, wanting to be at Bette’s side.
Jena Beth pulled up to the dock slowly, her son there to grab the rope she threw. Bette had not yet met Jimmy; he was about ten and lanky and sinewy in that way boys who work outside get. All muscle and tanned skin and youth. \
He had a mop of hair that covered his eyes and Tina said he was a quiet kid, who helped run the store when Turnup couldn’t. Which was often, meaning Jimmy didn’t always make it to school. Tina met him the day they came to see Turnup, a day that seemed like ages ago but was less than two weeks.