“Dear God, what has Erik done now?” Kati Stonehand sits outside of Principal Thornton’s office awaiting the horrible news of her son’s current trouble. Chewing her nails, her hazel eyes flit around the office. “Kati, the principal will see you now.” Standing, she smooths her flowery blouse, and enters the office. It is small, but his desk and two chairs almost fill up the room. Multiple degrees hand from the wall, and a picture of a man in a sailboat hangs behind his desk. “Come in Kati. Please have a seat.”Sitting in the high back chair, Kati clasps her hands together. “Kati, I hated to call you. Erik, well there is no easy way to say this, Erik is going to be expelled.” Kati gasps. “Why? I know he has been in trouble a lot this year, but why expulsion?” Furrowing his brow, the principal stands and walks to the window.“He assaulted a student today Kati. After he called him a stupid spic.”Sobbing, Kati struggles to make sense of this information. “Erik called a student a stupid spic?” Turning from the window, Principal Thornton nods. “Yes.”Standing to her feet, tears cloud her vision. “I understand. How long is his expulsion?” Reaching for the paperwork on his desk, he hands it to Kati. “He is expelled for one month. It is recommended that Erik undergoes some type of counseling. Come with me, we will go get him.”
Walking down the hall, they reach the School Resource Officers room. Looking up when Kati enters the room, Erik grins. “Hi mom.” His hazel eyes glint with mischievous intent. “Guess what happened today?” Glaring at her son, she grabs him by the arm and pulls him to his feet.“I heard what you did. Your father will hear about it as well. What is wrong with you?” Grinning, he looks at Principal Thornton. “See you around old man!”
Storming across the parking lot, Kati shakes her head. “What in the name of God do you think you are doing? Stupid spic? Your dad and I raised you better than that.” Laughing, Erik gets in the car.“Its whatever. What do you think dad is going to do to me? Ground me? Please.”Silently, Kati drives back to the house. Erik gets out of the car, slamming the door he heads toward the beach. “Be back in a while mom!” Slowly, Kati makes her way up the steps of her house. Sitting out on the deck, the sun waning into the distance, she twirls her black hair through her fingers. “Where did we go wrong?” Picking up the phone, she dials her husband’s number.
“Hey babycakes, what is going on?” Hearing her husband’s voice restored some of the balance that was destroyed earlier. “Erik got expelled from school.” She heard his breath catch in his throat. “Erik did what?” The sudden burst of anger made his voice raise. “How did he get expelled?” Biting on her lower lip, she braced for what was coming next. “He called a student a stupid spic, and then punched him in the face.” Jaws clenched tight, he flexed his fists. Slamming his hand against the wall, he imply said, “I am on my way home.”
Speeding, Dave raced along the highway. “What is wrong with Erik? He has been in trouble all year. Why can’t we reach him?” Aggressively maneuvering around the slower vehicles, Dave finally made it home. Pulling into the driveway, he lammed on the brakes. “Kati, where is he?” Kati points toward the shoreline. Nodding, Dave makes his way toward the house. “Go get him and bring him inside.”
Walking along the shoreline, Kati sees her son.“Come on Erik. Your dad is home. He wants to talk to you about today.” Smirking, he walks past Kati. “Yeah, I heard him. Let’s get this over with.” Kati silently follows him into the house. “Well old man, I am here. What do you want?” Turning in his chair Dave lunges to his feet. “Who do you think you are talking too? Where do you get off calling someone a racist name?” Smirking, Erik leans on the counter. “It’s not that big of a deal.” Glaring at his son, veins taut in his neck, Dave moves toward him. “You are an embarrassment to this family. Your mother and I have never used that kind of language. Where did you learn how to be a racist?” Glancing at his father, Erik walks into his room.“None of your business old man!” with that, he slams his door.
“Dave, what are we going to do? How do we make him understand that he is hurting only himself?” Glancing at his wife, Dave notices that his wife’s eyes are red from crying. “Come here” Pulling her in close, he hugs her tightly. “We have to do something. I mean something drastic to get his attention.” Nodding, she quietly whispers, “like what Dave? Military school?” Dave takes her hand and leads her to the couch. “We could try military school, but he is already angry.” Shaking her head, she leaned on her husband’s shoulder. “We need to send him to counseling,” noticing her husband shake his head, “Thornton said we had to try something before he came back.” Sighing in frustration, Dave stood and paced the floor. “We have to turn his world upside down. Get him completely out of his comfort zone. No Xbox, PlayStation or phone. We can take him sailing.” Kati looked at her husband. “Sailing? He is suspended for a month.” Eagerly nodding his head, Dave smiled. “Then we sail for a month. This will teach him many skills that he will need in life.” Kati is speechless. Shaking her black hair out of her face, she glances at Dave. “We haven’t been sailing in years Dave. Is our boat up to that long of a journey?”Smiling at his wife, he nods. “Yes sweetie, the boat is fine. I have some vacation time saved up. I will let the company know, and we can set off at first light.”
Dave made his way out to his shop where his boat was stored. Reaching up to grasp the tarp, he gave a mighty tug. “Let’s have a look at you old girl.” Climbing into the boat, Dave examined the walls and floor of the boat. Climbing out, he walked around to the back of the boat. In gold letters, Tempest was stenciled on the black background. Chuckling, he finished his inspection of his boat. “Looks good. This should be a grand adventure.”
While Dave conducted an inspection of the boat,Kati was trying to communicate with Erik. “You need to pack enough clothes for thirty days. When you get it packed, take it out to the boat and store it.” Erik laughs. “That is the best punishment you and dad could think up? Take me sailing for thirty days. Best punishment ever.” Kati turns and walks away. Entering her bedroom, she pulls out two duffle bags. “Might as well get started packing our bags, daylight will be here before we know it.”
Kati was not wrong. “Rise and shine sweetie! I have already loaded the boat.” Kati blinked. Looking out toward the ocean she could see that the surface was like glass. “It’s going to be a beautiful day for sailing.” Smiling she left the bed and walked into the bathroom. “No need to beautify myself this morning. Ponytail and cap will be fine.” She could hear Dave knocking on Erik’s door. “Get up Erik. Grab your gear and get on the boat.” Erik snatches the door open. Scowling at his father, eyes red from a lack of sleep, he shoulders him aside and slams the door. “Well, good morning to you too my little racist.” Kati chuckles. “Its going to be interesting cutie.” They laugh and lock up the house.
“It’s a great day to be on the water!” Arms stretched overhead, Kati takes in the sunrise. “God is an artist this morning,look at that orange.” Dave smiles. “It definitely is breathtaking. Much like you are this morning.” Scrunching up her nose, she playfully winks at Dave.“Watch it, I’m taken.” Erik rolled his eyes. “Maybe you two want to get a room?” Dave and Kati chuckle. “Why? You were conceived in the back of a taxi.” Kati laughs and Erik heads for the cabin. “I don’t want to hear that crap. Where are we headed?” Dave smiled. “Augusta, Maine.” Eyes widened, Erik looks at Kati.“Is he serious mom?” Kati nods. “Yep, 1197 nautical miles. Hope you brought your big boy britches.”
Dave makes his way across the hull of the boat and take the tiller in hand. “The wind is coming from the east. Hoist the mainsail, turn the boom east.” A strong gust of wind fills the canvas and the family is on their way. Gliding across the surface, Kati looks at Erik. “You should take some time to enjoy this. It has been years since your dad and I have gone sailing. Look. You can see Ship Island.” Glancing in the direction of his mom’s hand, he smirks. “Yeah, real happening joint. Give me a break.” Kati glances at Erik. “No one is responsible for you getting in trouble but you Erik. For some reason, you have a major malfunction.” Erik clenches his fist, moving inches from his mother’s face. “My major malfunction is this family. I hate you and him. Neither of you mean anything to me. I wish you all were dead.”Instinctively, Kati’s hand flashed into view, seconds before it crashed into Erik’s jaw. The crack of her hand meeting Erik’s jaw sounded like a gunshot over the open bay. Her eyes narrowed, breathing shallowly, she hissed, “Get away from me. Don’t you dare speak to us.” Crab-walking backwards to escape this fountain of fury, Erik looked up at his mother. “Mom, I…” Kati didn’t let him finish.“Shut your mouth Erik. You are ungrateful of all the chances that you have been given. You are rude, disrespectful and one day you will reap what you have sown. You better hope you marry someone infertile. Your kids will make you pay for everything you have done. Get out of my sight.”
Dave, tiller in hand, watched as his wife put their son on his back. “Jesus, what a woman.” Kati looks over at him, tears in her eyes. Gesturing for Kati to join him, she moves close to where he is. “I shouldn’t have hit him Dave.”Gazing into her hazel eyes, he smiles. “Ah, he had it coming honey. If not by you, definitely by me.” Lips trembling, she bites down to force herself to stay calm. “He hates us. Erik said that he wished we both were dead.” Wordlessly, Dave nods. “I know honey. It is a long way to Augusta, Maine. At some point he will get it.” Silent tears burn down her cheeks as Dave checks the wind. “The wind has shifted. It is coming from the South. Shift the boom.” Erik peers out of the cabin and notices his mom trying to turn the boom to the South. “Let me help.” Glancing at her son, they pull the boom and the canvas fills with wind.“Mom, I’m sorry.” She gazes into Erik’s eyes. “You should be. Your dad works one hundred hours a week to provide for us. He works double and triple shifts that allows you to go to school, and insult people you don’t know.” Wincing from the swelling of his jaw, Erik nods. “I know mom. You don’t understand.”Hand on her hip, she tilts her head and asks, “What don’t we understand? That you hate everyone or that you think that you know everything?” Glancing down,he kicks at a snail making its way across the hull. “People don’t like me mom.They pick on me, push my buttons and then I get angry and react.” Shaking her head furiously, she looks at Erik. “So, you use derogatory language to describe someone prior to punching them in the face. I don’t care how angry your dad gets, he has never used language like that.” Nodding, Erik looks out at the sea. Tears trickle down his cheeks. “I just get so mad mom. I don’t know why.”Taking his hand into hers, she squeezed. “Erik, you have to learn to let go of all that. What people say and do impact them. If you can’t control it, why are you getting upset about it? If its not true, it shouldn’t bother you.” Wiping the tears out of his eyes, Erik looks at his mom. “Heck of a right hand you got mom.” Chuckling she nods. “I got that from your dad.”’
Nightfall comes. “Kati, lower the mainsail. The jib will keep us moving. The waves are getting a little choppy.” Nodding, Erik and Kati lower the main sail