by Joy Garnett
The river looked grey and cold that morning with its little whorls of current that appeared every few yards like dimples. Above was the low-hanging sky, autumnal, bright white, almost blinding. I remember I had my book out and tried to read it, but my mind was elsewhere. I felt scattered. Maybe fatigued is a better word. I was fatigued by the thought of the workday ahead. I was fatigued by the thought of previous days. It wasn’t anything in particular, more like an accumulation of small, seemingly insignificant affronts that sucked my energy. I tried to calibrate my mood, adjust it with beverages and food, and once in a while, an aspirin. That morning, I remember wondering if I should hunt for a strong cup of coffee, or if that would be a mistake. Probably what I needed was electrolytes. Pickles. Breakfast sushi! I looked at my watch. Sushi wouldn’t be available for at least another hour. I slumped down in the plastic bucket chair on the top deck and pulled my scarf tighter around me as the wind kicked up. We bobbed in the steep wake of a ferry that crossed our path—it was busy out there on the water. I shaded my eyes and scanned the nearby shore. A defunct power plant rose from the embankment in a tangle of blackened curlicues and salt-corroded cables. We pulled past it, and past the remains of a pier, pylons milled from the previous century’s forests and soaked in creosote, standing sodden and upright in varied stages of rot, a reminder of their toxic past, which now seems almost graceful. The boat gunned its engines and veered across the river to the glittering pier on the far shore. As we approached, I could see a small group of people standing along the edge of the concrete green space that forms a tiered park. They were moving their arms in a semaphore. Or perhaps they were waving. I tried to make out the expressions on their faces, but they were too far away. They could have been enjoying their morning Tai Chi session. Unless it was a cry for help. I couldn’t really tell.