Will laughed—a single very-high note made through closed lips, a small remnant of how I remember him being when we were younger, when he was a little pudgy and chaotic. Now he was twenty-three, thin, and with a dark, short, and well-kept beard that covered much of his face, even his cheekbones. You wouldn’t expect that sound from him unless you were a friend, in which case it was most welcome, and a sign that all was well and joyous with the world.
“It’s waterproof,” he said, letting the mainsheet run out between his fingers, preparing to come about, always gentle and methodical now in the adult iteration of himself, as if he knew—like a postal driver who doesn’t take left turns—that the rush inevitably slows you down. He pushed the tiller over, the bow pointed up light and responsive into the wind, then through it. I let the jib backwind and then snapped it over; the sails loaded and pulled, and we climbed to the windward side, flattening the small boat and accelerating out of the tack as if we’d rehearsed it.
“There it is,” he said, pointing just downwind, two boat-lengths away. “We’ll loop around. Make it a proper figure-8 rescue.”
I nodded, but just then a small swell washed over the chart, flooding and filling whatever parts of it there were to fill. Then it was gone, and I was gone after it—over the back rail in my clothes and sunglasses—my arms outstretched to soften the slap of the water against my aching forehead, and behind me through the air Will just sat at the tiller, beaming and pounding the deck and laughing his little laugh, because it was summer and all was well.