Short Story: Jamaica Drifting

Jamaica Drifting - Cover Art 2014

It was another humid day. The sky was blue, the sun sat high in the noon-day sky, and the heat felt divine on my skin.

I could hear Harry Belafonte singing in my head.

Oh island in the sun…….

Which was enough, of what was really quite an old song to be going around my head considering I’m not even thirty yet. But somehow, it summed up how I was feeling perfectly,  as I drifted along the most amazing river. The raft was one I  had hired in order to do the touristy thing for a couple of hours, along what was a very well-known and historical river. The raft itself was about thirty-six feet long and three feet wide.  It was made up of huge bamboo canes fixed together in a very rustic fashion, which was now considered a bit of an art, requiring skills which had been used for many years during the slave trade. Originally it was a way of transporting cargo using the river, but over more recent years its use changed to more pleasurable reasons.

Situated about third of the way in , was a double seated chair, also crafted out of bamboo and positioned centrally with cushions on it.  This is where I sat or should I say reclined, legs stretched out before me, totally at ease. It felt so good. There’s a tranquility and peace that flows with a calm flowing river, that is simply beautiful.  I was so glad to be here, Lord knows! I sighed within myself.

My life wasn’t exactly going great right now. Work had been totally stressful for longer than I care to remember, and my boss was the coldest, hard-nosed, heartless women I knew. I was the PA to a woman who could pour out charm and warmth as easily as she could switch on a word with the sharpness of spinning on a dim, only to take the legs from beneath you with a few choiced words.  In that skill, she never missed a beat. She was enviously smart, with the highest pace I had seen in a person when it came to work. She had no time for fools, shirkers or people who were unequally driven in her eyes. She had an agenda all of her own and no one was coming between her and her goal of becoming the first female Partner of Staiton, Reece & Staiton a long-standing and notable firm of lawyers.

I was well paid and for good reason, as I had been the only PA who could match her pace.  I decided I would not be sacked from my job like my predecessors. So I upped my game.  But it had a cost, it demanded my life, literally.  I had no me time outside of SRS.  I  began to dislike  my job around two years ago. I think that was when I started to question myself as to why I was doing what I was doing?  My dislike grew into hate to the point where I resigned and walked just over a week ago, not knowing what I would do next, but sure of this one thing.  I was not spending another moment of my life being dictated to by someone I had grown to have no respect for.

A week later I booked my flight to Jamaica in order to get away.  It wasn’t only me physically drifting on the river but my whole life had been drifting for the past few years. I had let things go and gotten complacent.  Instead of taking real risks, I decide to hang on in’ for one lame excuse after the other, in the hope that things would improve because the company was growing and going places, fast and I wanted to be part of it somehow.  Not as a PA but as a lawyer myself. I knew I could be good at it – it’s what made me so good at my job.  When it came to research and finding angles and that all important nugget of information that had the power to win or lose an argument, that was my niche.  Psycho knew it. She knew I was more than just a PA but she made sure she feed me just enough promises, and dripped fed me enough carrot to feed my ambitions and keep me hanging on in hope, but by no means did she promote me or allow anyone else to. She played me for ages, and I let her.

But now, I had hit a major point in my life and I needed to make the right decision (whatever that was) regarding what I did next with my life after ‘Jamaica Drifting?’ was over, and I would have to return home.

I could hear the sound of different birds spontaneously bursting into song as we floated along. There were dense green trees and foliage on either banks of the river.  This was years, centuries of hardly touched foliage. Some of the trees reached out and stretched with aged old branches across the river. In parts where the river narrowed, they almost touched.  My guide steered the raft skilfully along the river using nothing but an immensely long bamboo cane. Which he would firmly plant in the river using his body weight to then manipulate and shift the raft away from the banks.  He stood around five feet eleven inches tall. He had a lean physique, similar to that of a welterweight boxer, with absolutely no fat to be seen anywhere on him. His locks were secured into a pony-tail, by being bound using a few of his own locks and they hung neatly. cascading down, just past his shoulders into the middle of his back.  He wore knee-length khaki shorts, no belt, causing it to sit low on his  hips whilst his boxer waist-band sat slightly higher by about a waist band width above it. I was sweating by now because the humidity was no joke. He however, hardly had a sheen on him.

I looked at the river, which seemed to be a patchwork of green and clear blue water depending on the depth of the water, and the moss that covered the rocks nearer the edges of the banks. I could feel the power of the under current beneath the raft and at one point I decided to get of the seat to sit on the bamboo floor just so that I could put my hand in the river and feel the current against my hand.  The water was refreshingly cold and the sound was beautiful as the water lapped against the bamboo, swirled around the big boulders and lapped against the edges of the bank, as we continued to float downwards.

I dropped my shades back over my eyes to lessen the effects of the sun on my eyes and the reflection bouncing off of the river.  I could hear the high-pitched distinct buzz of mosquitoes now and then near me, I just hoped the mosquito repellent worked, otherwise I would look like a swollen pin cushion by this evening. But then I thought, no I shouldn’t because I had made sure that I had taken my antihistamines this morning just in case, so this should keep any swelling down to a minimum. Mum was also an avid lover of all things herbal and all things Aloe Vera, so I have drinking that in small doses as lovingly dispensed by mum since my arrival.

Here Lady…yu cool?  It was my guide he had the deepest Jamaican accent.

“Totally” I replied with the biggest smile.  Because for the first time, in the longest time, I genuinely was.

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