Terminal

On an island there are either bridges to one place, or ferries to another.

Wait, that’s not right: either bridges to a place or ferries to the same place. One or the other. Never both.

At times airplanes serve a similar function of getting people off islands, but only on special occasions and only on islands worth flying to.

Where there are ferries there are ferry terminals. Terminals are transition areas. They let people stretch their legs if there is a line for a ferry. Babies get wheeled about in strollers, dogs walk around, tethered to their person. Friends get out and buy ice cream or fish’n’chips and get horrible heartburn afterward, but before that stand on the pier in the sun and laugh and think about all the things hope to do that weekend.

On other days, the ones that aren’t the weekend, people stay in their cars. These are the commuters. They pull out their phones, a book, or tilt their chair back and close their eyes after a long days work. They do not enter the Terminal. The Terminal is empty on these days. The Terminal does not echo or have a sound. It is still. Someone pulls the door open, walks in. Her shoes squeak across the concrete floor. She is pregnant and her feet are swollen. She is far along. Everything will be fine.

On weekends, tourists line up and point at seagulls. This happens at an exponential rate in the summer. People from all over visit the Terminal and take pictures to prove they were there and there and there. And here they are. Living life and looking out across the sunny bay and to the mountains that tower up not so far away. They put the pictures on the world wide web and everyone who wants to can see them.

On a day that isn’t the weekend, two dock workers stand in the Terminal. Their voices echo in the stillness. The high ceilings are built to accommodate the wooden statues carved by the contemporary collaboratively consulted artists from the Co-Salish tribes. Maybe the statues were designed to fit. Maybe the ceiling was raised. …left his bag on the seat, says one of the ferry employees. Hate it when they do that, says the other. I mean, he says, read the sign. There is a sign on the wall to their right near the ticket kiosk. The sign is a pair of eyes. See something, say something, it says.

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