Terminal #3

The rain came down in the smallest misty droplets. The shrill and strained voices of those inside, echoed off the windows and tall, high ceilings of the terminal. At the same time, a man, not yelling, just outside the door, pointed up at the great wooden beams that supported the roof and said to the woman beside him–maybe his wife and maybe his girlfriends and maybe just a work associate, “look hot those are beveled and so they fit together just right.”

Inside the terminal the echoes continued. You have to wear a mask, said the ferry worker, but it was lost in the shouts.

What about liberty?

Free country.

Don’t have to.

Outside in the loading lot where people in waited in cars waiting to be loaded, a white Tesla paid fare and then drove into the back of a lane. The loud speakers chimed with a thin metallic voice. Will the white Tesla that pulled into the end of lane five please move to lane one. I’ll repeat, the white Tesla must move from lane five to lane one. The announcement flies around the crowded terminal without the potential passenger or the ferry worker hearing it.

The other passengers who wear masks buy tickets amid the hubbub. They shoot glances at the yelling men. A young family hustle quickly past them. The little girls hold their hands over their ears. Entering directly after the family are a pair of state troops. Each are white with close cut hair, one down right bold, and the other has a reddish beard. The ferryman backs away, shaking his head. The yelling man turns around to see the police officers.

On the ferry that is docking a passenger stands on the front of the boat. As the transport nears the dock a ferry worker approaches.

I’m going to ask you to step back. And please pull up your mask to cover your nose when you go inside.

The passenger is a girl, no older than 21 and maybe younger. She does what is asked of her. There is no conflict her. She stands behind the webbing the ferry worker sets up to obscure the walk way. The ferry worker has a partially shaved head and a swath of blond hair streaking the top of her head, pulled back in a pony tale. She unlocked the gate so the passenger bridge can lower.

Under the water where the propellers are, the water churns as the front propellers are engaged, slowing the boat.

Terminal #2

In this place of transition, a place that proceeds the going and coming of people to one place to another via water, air, or land, the air is thick with impatience.

The Terminal here is a water crossing, with a hydraulic passenger bridge that leads to the upper deck of the ferry. You must have a ticket to ride. You scan your ticket to open a little gate, then there is a door and then the bridge and then you are on the ferry.

A gaggle of 7th graders from the middle school up the hill are on a fieldtrip and enter the Terminal. They can’t be quiet and their voices echo off the floor and walls and high ceiling. They WoW and OoOo and laugh and can’t keep their hands to themselves.

Keep your mask on, their teacher keeps saying, then goes and speaks with the ferry worker who lets them through a locked door rather than through the little automated gates.

Before there was automated gates there was a person who was paid to take tickets from people. That job no longer exists. The person who had that job now works at the coffee kiosk down the block and makes a third of the salary they once had. It’s the little things you don’t notice.

To get the 7th graders out of the Terminal proper, the ferry worker lets them stand on the fore bridge that leads to the hydraulic one. The ferry has not arrived quite yet. It is in the middle of the crossing. Most of the students watch it slowly slide across the water. The water is calm and light shines off it in diamonds. One of the students wanders over to look at the bridge where the cars transfer from the land to the boat. It looks like any other road or bridge. There is a honking in the car lot loading area. It could be an alarm, but it is also too sporadic to be an alarm.

Get away from the rail, says the teacher to his students.

There is a roaring and the children have wide eyes and are looking around. Their heads spiraling.

The car is honking over and over as it rounds the corner and heads onto the ramp. The girl that was looking down sees the flash of the car, bright red, a haze exiting the tailpipe, burning oil. There is no ferry docked. Tires screech and then the car is in the air, flying outward. Flying downward.

The girl watches it. Her classmates are screaming. The teacher is shouting. She is still. The car is still. hanging in midair, it’s tires still spinning. Then the nose angles down, it’s tail up. It begins to fall. And once it begins everything speeds back up again.


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.