maybe an island

While in the drudgy vehicle parade loading onto the ferry I see a local boy by the pedestrian walkway. He’s eighteen and sporting a new lower half of the chin beard. He’s Robert Sean Leonard with Downs. I often see him on the ferry heading off to high school. On his way home, he sometimes hangs with the other kids and sometimes he’s found a stray traveler to talk to. Always male. He’s usually smiling, chatting away.

But today, he’s on dry land. Oh yes. He’s right in front of the “Welcome to Bowen” sign in a dark tasteful hoodie and excellent jeans. Our boy leers at the off loading vehicles with a water fall of F-U fists. He is flying the bird at everyone and everything and mouthing the words just in case the tourists don’t understand the hand gestures.

F-U! F-U! F-U! F-U! F-U!

I am on the opposite side of the parade, unable to slide over there to ask, “Hey buddy, have a hard day?”

Only about four thousand people live here so I get to know the locals; we’re just over two years. It has occurred to me before that it’s mostly new white money and old white hippies here..and .not enough people of colour to make up a soft ball team. I’ve wondered what it’s like for them. But then I see our boy here and realize – he may be the only one of his kind. The only down syndrome person on Bowen…at least as far as I’ve seen. Maybe “no man is an island” is F-ing tired of being lonely.

A lanky man in his thirties leaps over to have a chat with our angry ambassador. It doesn’t seem to do any good. They sort of shift their weight around each other, our boy looks away, shoves his fists in his hoodie. I can see the lanky man wants to put his hand on the boy’s shoulder but decides it would be invasive…maybe…and kindly greets him well and hesitantly walks away. Our boy glowers after him. As soon as the lanky man is out of sight, our boy is back at the F-Us but it’s only one hand now and more sullen than sincere.

I catch myself. He’s not “our boy”, he’s his own boy. He probably has absolutely no need or love for my mother instincts.

A flouncy chubby girl in polka dots with a real live bow in her hair and boots strides up the walkway towards him with strong naked thighs peeping out from her skirt. He sees her and I can feel his gasp from here.. She’s Mini Mouse plus sized and formidably DD. She’s glorious! Our boy does the most remarkable thing. He floats slow motion in a circle away from her and hugs the rock wall with the welcome sign on it. He curves every part of his body into the rocks as though he’s doing a moss impression and suddenly now invisible. It’s…unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Delicate and graceful as a lyrical dancer.

Once she’s well past him, once her perfume has wafted away, he pulls away from the wall and transforms back into a boy. He stands there, forlorn, looking after her.

The last few cars off load from the ferry and he has no ill feelings at all towards them anymore, just a sigh of sadness and maybe…a kind of relief.


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