"Let me help."
Michael exhaled through clenched teeth at the sound of the voice. He was in no mood to deal with people. A deep breath and a quick count to three was enough to talk with the man who had become his neighbor six months ago.
"Thanks for the help. Casting off has always been my weakness."
"No worries, mate. Remember out here we're a family and that is what neighbors are for. Will the ‘Wanderlust' be returning to port tonight?"
Michael felt himself relaxing despite the earlier fight with Leah. There was something about the man that made him smile. Put a yellow fisherman's hat and raincoat on him and Jonathan could pass for the iconic Gordon's Fisherman.
"Yes. I'm only out for a couple of hours of peace. A few friends are coming tomorrow and we're going to Catalina for a couple of days."
A smile crinkled the other mans weathered face as he threw the coiled line on the deck, "Good on you. Getting away with friends is always an adventure. If I am still awake, I'll tie you if when you return."
Michael drifted away from the dock and checked his course before pulling out into deeper water. As the boat traveled farther away, he spared one last look at the now empty dock and shook his head. For a man Jonathan's size, he moved quickly.
Standing at the helm, wind blowing his hair back Michael allowed his thoughts to drift to the upcoming trip tomorrow. Four of his closest friends were flying in for the trip. They hadn't seen each other in five years and that was a lifetime for them. He would break the news of the divorce after they got out to sea.
Tonight, he thought, it's just me, the sea, and the moon. He knew he was using the pre-trip as an excuse to brood. Thanks to his spiteful ex-wife his daughter who was to spend the weekend with him decided a friend's house was better and her mother let her go.
He'd taken to sleeping on the boat when Leah suggested they needed time apart. Which cut down on how often he got to see Alexias. But who was he to argue, she bought the house and supplied most of the money they lived on.
It wasn't three months later the divorce papers were delivered at work. Fourteen years of marriage ended with two sentences.
Leah was allowed full custody of their daughter and the divorce granted on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. The divorce was killing him. He didn't begrudge Leah all of the stuff she wanted of theirs; she was more into stuff than he was.
But she seemed out for blood, the more he gave the madder she got. She would call and pick fights over what seemed like nothing. Maybe he should have tried harder or been more ambitious, but he was good with things the way they were. He thought they were going to retire and sail around the world.
The truth was if it weren't for his daughter, he would chart a course for the open sea and never come back.
The farther out the Wanderlust traveled the more relaxed Michael became, which according to Leah was the proof he didn't like people. What she couldn't understand was he liked to keep his work and personal life separate.
One of the benefits of the middle of the ocean was an amazing view of the sky. Privately he often thought of the universe and the secrets it held. More than once he imagined what would happen if he were to have contact with aliens.
Now that would be the adventure, he had always wanted for the two of them. Which of course created drama with Leah who constantly reminded him that his responsibilities were on earth. Maybe that was what was wrong with them, he had a wanderer's soul and she had no imagination for what could be.
Before they were married, he spent months on a crab boat in the middle of the pacific after traveling all over Europe with just a backpack. He'd tried to search for tomorrow on every shore, but it never quite worked out the way either of them wanted and he finally just gave up.
The Wanderlust traveled far enough out to sea only an echo of civilization remained. He killed the motor and dropped anchor. From the cooler he pulled a bottle and cracked open the top. He took a swallow of the amber liquid and glanced over the side of the boat into the waves below. Lanterns cast an eerie glow and he thought he saw a fin slice through the wave and tried not to shudder. The ocean with all its beauty tended to hide the danger.
Most of his best memories had something to do with being on the water. And as always thinking of those happier times a few of the bad ones started creeping in. He took two long slugs of beer and tried not to think of his father and best friends who were lost in a charter accident in the Caribbean four years ago. Saying goodbye to them without bodies was one of the hardest things for him.
His brooding was interrupted by a prickling sensation down his neck. The buildup of static electricity was a good sign that a lightning storm was moving toward him. He looked to the sky for the thunderhead and frowned. The sky was perfectly clear. He checked the water and there was no change to the waves. Confused he looked to the sky again and had to shield his eyes from the blinding light that seemed to be coming straight toward him.
As the light intensified the pressure on Michael almost drove him to his knees. And then just as suddenly as the static and pressure started it stopped. He hesitantly lowered his arm and stared in wonder at the glowing creature in front of him.
Michael had heard stories about angles appearing to people when they truly needed them and wanted to believe. He found his voice and asked, "are you an angel?"
"Come with me."
A feeling of warmth flooded Michael as he felt more than heard the words spoken. For a minute he wondered if he really was dead, and they were angels.
"Come! You can be happy. We can show you things you never imagined," the voice projected motioning to come with a glowing hand.
"I can't leave my daughter. Am I dead?"
"She will be cared for, and you can be happy once more. She will know you loved her. And one day you will see her again."
"I will? Of course, I will everyone sees everyone again in heaven."
There was no urgency in the being's tone, only a sense of belonging. Micheel was torn. Going with the being felt right but he didn't want to leave Alexis.
He exhaled loudly, coming to a decision, and reached out to the angel. "You're sure she will be alright."
There was no answer, just an overwhelming sense of peace. He grasped the offered hand and said, "I am as ready as I will ever be."
The grip on his hand tightened and the light became more brilliant. He felt a tugging and then his body left the craft and started floating toward the light. As he got closer, he had to turn away. Then to his surprise, he heard the hiss of metal separating and a different light assaulted him. There was no harshness to the light, just a gentle blue ambiance as his feet touched something solid. He turned to the being and said, "Is this heaven?"
"No. You are aboard my starship. We are explorers and I would like you to join me."
Michael looked back over his shoulder at his boat sitting empty on the water and had a moment of panic where he wished he could go back. He looked at the glowing being and opened his mouth to tell him to take him back, but words would not come. And then the other part of him rationalized the idea. Leah would be happy, and Alexis would remember him the way he was without all the sad things.
"Okay... I mean yes. Do I have to do anything?"
The alien projected a feeling of warmth and delight. Into Michaels head he said, "only say goodbye to the planet earth and come with me."
He looked once more down onto the "Wanderlust' and realized one of his dreams had come true he was heading for the stars. He hoped one day he could come back and tell the girls everything he'd seen but that was tomorrow's wish. "Goodbye. I will see you again."
He turned and followed his host, who was none other than Jonathan deeper into the vessel and only shivered once as the ship changed course and headed into space.