24 - End of the Road
At half past noon, I crawled out of bed. Elena was still blissfully in dreamland. Beyond a tall hedge off our patio, something sounding an awful lot like an infinite number of gamelan players, bonked and clanged insanely. It was surreal, and by krikey, it was hot -- really hot! Back indoors, I fired up the Dell, and using its Wi-Fi, free-jacked hit-and-miss Internet access from randomly appearing, insecure wireless networks.
Our biggest concern was Elena's two months allowed in Turkey, instead of three, like I got. Considering the shakedown in Odessa, and Mama's obsession with getting back at her daughter, the passport was likely compromised. If it wasn't when we left Ukraine, it certainly would have been when Tanya got back to Russia empty handed. The clock was ticking, and we had to make it out of Turkey before time was up.
The few grand in our pockets wasn't going to get us far. We couldn't just hop on a flight to Toronto. There wasn't a commercial carrier out there that would let a Russian aboard without a visa. Not only was getting home going to be tough, it wasn't going to be cheap. Passage on a freighter with an understanding captain would be more cash than I had; with an oblivious captain, stowing away would cost more than that. Maybe even our lives. We would be paying a rogue crew to take us hostage on the high seas. I knew all that, but outright panic, desperation and love for this deer-in-the-headlights Russian, had me tearing at the floorboards, looking for an escape hatch.
* * *
Elena came through the front door with groceries. I was sitting in the dark, staring at the Dell like a crazed fortune teller. Raining on her parade sucked, but was inevitable. "We've got to talk." I spun the laptop toward her.
She ignored me. "Olives! Real, from here, from Turkey. Olives, Meg! There are trees right here..."
I cut her off. "There's no easy way forward. You aren't allowed in, or over, or through any country from here to Canada, and there's a lot of ocean in the way."
"I know this." She put the bags on the counter, pulled a kitchen chair up beside mine and rested her chin on my shoulder. "But what can I do? Meg, we've run out of road. There is only the sea before us. We have two months before we must part."
I waved at the laptop. "We need a solution."
"I will have to go to Russia and you will go to home in Canada."
"But..." My throat tightened. "... but Canada can't be home. Not without you. Don't you get it? I will not... I can not leave you behind."
"You are a prisoner because of me!" Elena stood, paced toward the patio. "I cannot go with you! Do not you see!? You are in jail with me." I tried to speak. She held up a hand. "No, Meg! I do not want to take from you all this that is... it is... that is you! Your freedom, Meg! It is what you are to me. How can I take this?" She was sobbing.
I fought back my own tears. "We'll go to Russia if we have to. Hide out there."
"But, so what? Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, they all will not let us be together. You have forgotten why we are here now? Hiding like the fox from the hounds."
We'd been through it, over and over; an endless, grinding, life consuming search for a way to be safe, equal... ordinary. "Yeah, we have to make it to Canada."
"And if two months runs out?"
"I won't abandon you."
"You should not be a prisoner because of me. I will hide in the desert before ever going to Russia. Russia is my death! But Meg, it will not be the end of you. I love you too much."
I tried to speak. My throat was suddenly dry. I swallowed hard enough to dislodge a tonsil and managed, "ah... right. Then we have to do this in two months... or less." I brought up a website. "Take a look at this. Here's what I've been thinking."
Elena sat back down, leaned closer to the screen. "Alexi's business friend showed to us this site in Odessa."
"Right, but I used it to look for boats around here. Let me tell you, there's one heck of a lot of them. This town is absolutely yacht-central."
"You are thinking to buy boat? In Odessa you said..."
"I know, but this is different. I think it's our only option. There are people here: professionals who sell boats. Not scammers like Alexi. There are boats here that can cross oceans."
"Cross ocean!?" Elena's hands shot up in a you're-freaking-insane gesture. "In Odessa it was the Black sea, Meg! Not ocean."
"People sail yachts across oceans all the time." I picked up my -- by then, seriously worn -- paperback about round-the-world yacht racing. I shook it in front of her. "Heck, they even do it all alone. All the way around the world without stopping, just for the sport of it! I can assure you, people, even with children, cross oceans in yachts all the time."
"But they can land in Europe, or islands, or even USA!" She inhaled so hard I felt my ears pop. "Yachts can go all the way to Canada without stopping for fuel?"
"Of course!" I slapped the paperback down on the table. "Yachts use wind for propulsion. They can go anywhere, even all the way around the world without stopping."
She grabbed the paperback, jabbed at the cover photo. "This is a little sailboat! Not yacht."
"It's not that little." I took the paperback from her. Best she didn't see the photo section. "Come on, take a look at this website with me. There are definitely yah... er, sailboats here that can cross oceans."
Elena scanned through the website. "The closest to a yacht I have been is once when we with Dima traveled to Antalya. I saw, in the harbor, many masts. Are they not a lot of money? You can afford such expense?" She gaped at the listings. Prices were six figures and beyond.
"I can borrow money against my house." I had a half-million dollar line of credit. Besides, what were the chances I would run it all the way up? The clock was ticking. It was our only option -- which means it wasn't a choice, but a chance.
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