Chanelling

by Rikki Weir, Guest Writer


“Six thousand planes. Crouched and drooling green. Maybe ninety thousand purple ones. Red swaying stems. I made pot pourri chains of furry heads.” Guava's eyes bloom through my own. Either side of the boat's wheel. “Lime fields rolling. Never seen such colours live. Sweet air blown from mountains.” I only steer cobalt and wilted eyes by hot imagery. Perched with open ears. To only guess at how our days would go there. Pine tree filtered lights on the brain.


“You said Bordeaux?” I feather breaks. Her warm story sloshes.


“We never got there. I've always wanted to see the Atlantic though. We didn't make coast-to-coast. My dad hand-picked.” Pride evident in her voice at his job. I open my eyes to check him internally. As his boat fell apart until she helped repair it. With Guava having runaway at least twice. Who could know where we are now either?


“Did you truly enjoy those journeys? Were any of them really for you?” I probe.


“Loved them. What do you mean, who were they for?”


“Weren't you only there on the side, while he was doing business?”


“Actually my parents had friends in different towns. Typical middle class family. What are you trying to say?” she says. And I'm not sure anymore. How much do I really know her in two days?

“OK cool. I've never done anything like that.” I must try becoming less aware; less questioning of my instincts.


“You're not middle class,” she realises.


“So why did you stop, and the boat rusted to junk?”


“I don't want to talk about it. It's not junk if we're nearly in France, is it? And we're going back now. He would've never thought I'd go back after what happened. And you'll love it. That's the main thing.” Guava tosses a bulging atlas with covers missing. Opens straight to France on my lap. Snakes a line to Bay of Biscay over the western French coast. Points our current position, almost another region of continent. Over two enormous spits, both larger than the Cornwall-Devon peninsula together, which we still have to get past. To reach Bordeaux appears maybe twice the distance we've already chanced to be half-way. “Imagine if we make the Atlantic. We'd be real life explorers,” gushes Guava. I see if a beard would suit me in the window; doing vlogs together.


“We'll need new clothes to be legitimised online.”


As we roll the globe closer to continental mainlands, my vague perceptions of France sharpen. That I don't really know anything about it apart from a rough map-book outline. Curious that we might be arriving in another realm imminently. Compulsion to discover the new spectrum of French-governed lands. An instinctive path to follow. Not only to endure and do nice things in five or ten years. “To drive there manually by boat. Like it was first done. Not knowing what to expect,” Guava explores.


“Maybe they take us through portals when we're not looking – by plane or train.” My conceptions of French ways are from media only. “We'll connect canals in France with English ones. Maybe no-one's done that. And how can we really understand if we haven't fully experienced the path – like the moon and space?”


“They watch the same films and news as us, don't they?” Guava now queries. But I see she questions herself too. I see her atlas, Bordeaux, oceanic outlet for the Garonne river. It must wind below jaunty southern towns. They could be pleasantly temperate already in January. Cooked stones of old castles lapped by chilled azure. Mind soothed by the balm of dream-like species of trees. Eyes closed for scenes to improvise behind my eyelids – French humans speaking in random.


“They only fold the sun-umbrellas temporarily. We'll be like aliens.” My mind freer from functional London cycles, minimal leisure allowances.


“We're only birds migrating for a better life.” Secretly I look back, no coasts viewable. Hope no-one in London is thinking about us now, so no iota of us is away from here.


“We'll be able to open all windows when the heat catches us. Cover the whole boat in flags, like Costa Rica, Mauritius. What's her name anyway?” I finally ask.


“Pina Tomata,” she suddenly reveals after all this time.


“Stop in a new village each day.” I read the route. “Cadillac. Marmande.”


“Be in the Med by spring,” Guava bobs. I only think back to TV holiday clips of the Riviera, whatever that means. “We knew people with villas. They had an infinity pool.” With foam trails of speed boats in the blue water. Green formations behind the scene. Palm trees sprinkling. Burning beach roads to Monaco. While we would stay away from there initially, Guava would be drawn into being thrown out from gambling houses. “First to Rye, ten minutes' fog.”