The fog was lifting and the sun was beginning to hit the water. The ferry rumbled and grumbled and pulled away from the dock. I leaned against the railing and looked down into the water. But I didn’t see any jellyfish.
“Get back from that rail, Carla,” said my mother. “Do you want to fall in?”
I stepped right back. I knew that it would be very cold if I fell in. Still, I loved to look at the water. It was like looking into my mother’s jewelry box—all sparkles and spangles.
I looked back at my mother to tell her about the water. But her face was all squinched up. She was thinking. I pretended that her face was Play-Doh, and I could just press all those pinches and squinches right out of it. I crossed the deck and climbed onto the seat beside her. Gently, I pushed on her cheek.
She jumped. “Carla Ann! What are you doing? Can’t you see that I’m thinking?” Yes, I could see that. I thought she should stop thinking. She had a beautiful face when she wasn’t thinking. She had dark brown eyes and long eyelashes. Her skin was the same color as my teddy bear, and her black hair was long and shiny. My hair is just brown, and my skin is like a caramel apple.
The ferry headed out across the inlet. It’s called a foot ferry, because they only let you get on with your feet—no cars allowed. Mom likes to stay inside the cabin on the ferry and read her schoolbooks. I like to go outside and look at the water. Every morning we discuss it. Sometimes she gets mad, and we stay inside. Sometimes she just sighs, and we go outside.
I could see Bremerton and the ferry dock. Soon we would have to get off. Then we would take a bus to college, and Mom would go to class, and I would go to day care. I like my day care at the college. I have another day care I go to when Mom is working. I don’t like that as much. It’s in a lady’s house, and she yells too much. Next year I’ll go to school, like Mom. That scares me. “Mom?” I patted her on the arm, so she would stop thinking. “Mom? When I go to school will my face get all squinched, too?”
She blinked and turned to look at me. “Will your face what?”
“Will my face get pinched like scrumpled up Play-Doh?”
“Why are you asking me that?”
Then she was looking at me too much, like she might be going to get mad. “Nothing. Never mind.” I looked out at the water. The big ferry, the ferry that takes cars to Seattle, was passing us.
“Carla, tell me now why you asked me that.”
I wiggled and waggled in my seat. “I just wondered if I would have to think when I go to school.”
I could see she had all her thoughts on me now, like I was one of her schoolbooks. “I certainly hope you’ll think when you go to school. Are you asking me this because I think when I go to school? And my face gets wrinkled up when I think? Is that it?” The wind blew her hair back. “Is that why you were touching my face just now?”
“I just wanted to smooth the pinches out.” I watched a seagull fly by. “I like your face without the pinches.”
She sighed. She rubbed and scrubbed at her face. Then she looked at me and smiled. “There. Is that better?”
I smiled back at her. “Yeah!”
“I like my face better without squinches, too, honeybun. I just can’t study without squinching, I guess.”
“Do you have to study on the ferry?”
She looked at me for a long time, and I saw her thoughts go away. I thought she had forgotten about me. Then she said, “No.” She smiled at me. “No, 15 minutes isn’t going to make that much difference. I won’t study on the ferry anymore.” Her face was beautiful.
Our ferry bumped and thumped up against the dock. We went inside and lined up to get off. The ferry man, Jim, took my hand and helped me jump onto the dock. I didn’t need his help, but he liked to do it. I went to the rail and looked over.
“Carla! Come on! We’ll miss our bus!” She always said that, but we never did. I hurried after her, trying to look for jellyfish at the same time. Then I saw one! It looked like a runny fried egg, sunny-side up, with that goopy white stuff hanging down around the side.
“Look, Mom, look! A jellyfish!”
“Oh, Carla, please—” My mother came over to me and grabbed my hand. “But, Mom, look!” I pointed at the jellyfish. She stopped and looked at me. She looked at the jellyfish.
“The bus isn’t here yet, is it?” she asked.
“We can look at the jellyfish for a minute.” We both stood at the rail and looked at the jellyfish flowing and floating through the water.