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On The Edge Of The Water

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Katya got up before her alarm, having woken every hour since falling asleep. Her stomach churned. As quietly as possible, she opened her doors and stepped out onto the balcony. Leaning with her forearms on the railing, she hung her head over the boundary between her and the sea, mulling over how much of a smack against her body the surface of the water would create if she jumped off.

There were still moments like that, when dying prematurely seemed like a glorious means to an end. But then she heard her mom open her balcony doors too, and heard Trixie turn over in bed, and compartmentalised her thoughts as meagre and unnecessary inconveniences to how she was starting her final day on board. And so she sat herself down, propped her feet up and let the early morning sun burn away the rest of her pensiveness.

Her alarm rang from beside her bed. Trixie turned it off and joined her a few minutes later, complaining about the breeze. They bantered and kissed each other good morning and Katya evaded just why she was out there so early. She didn’t want to give the downer within herself any more attention than she already had. She jokingly asked Trixie if she wanted to come along to the gym with her, to which Trixie, surprising neither of them, vehemently refused.

“I’m performing for the ballroom dancing class, then I’m on deck again this afternoon and in the sky lounge like usual tonight. I’m in demand! So I do actually have to go to my room and get organised first.”

Katya huffed a laugh. “Ugh, fine, I’ll forgive you this once.” She hopped up to get ready, kissed Trixie a long, passionate goodbye and told her she’d see her on deck. “Have a good day.” She beamed as she darted out the door, coming to a stop outside her parents’ stateroom when it suddenly hit her how domestic she had sounded.

She’d never considered herself to be into all that. She wanted to be in love, of course, she wanted to find someone who matched her humour and could withstand all her many tendencies to panic or self-destruct, but from a safe distance - separate houses, maybe even separate cities, separate lives that somehow fit around one another.

Her mom opened the door before she had a chance to knock and she was swept up in her parents’ argument over when they’d have to set their alarm the following day to give them enough time before disembarkation.

The morning passed pleasantly enough. Katya tried to savour each ray of sunlight, each lap when walking around the running track with her mom, each time her dad made her laugh against her better judgement. She dozed, she admired her own tan and the way it made her look a lot healthier than she had appeared when she had first arrived, and she piled her plate extra high with food at the buffet during lunch. She wasn’t alone in that, from what she could observe, everyone else acting like they were going back to rations at home.

“Jesus, Katya, that man over there has had three different curries. Three! I thought your father was bad enough.”

“Mom, chill, Dad only had two.” Katya smirked at her getting all bothered and ordered her a glass of wine.

Katya napped until Trixie was due on stage. They had managed to secure better positioned sunbeds that day, which stupidly filled her with relief, so if she turned around and sat up, she could see most of the stage and Trixie’s awaiting microphone stand. Her guitar was propped up against an amp and the rest of her band’s equipment was plugged in and ready too.

Her parents sat up with her on their loungers and so, when Trixie and her hets (the only way Katya could refer to her band) walked into view, the three of them made a bit of a ruckus, encouraging the people each side of them to cheer louder as well.

Fixing her guitar strap and pulling her hair out of the way, Trixie looked up to the Lido deck, spotting Katya and her family almost straight away. She waved at them then seemed to remember herself and hurriedly waved in other directions too.

“Good afternoon, everyone. My name’s Trixie Mattel, if you somehow didn’t know by now because, wow, I’m here every day. How lucky am I! I don’t mean to rub it in, of course. I know you’re all sad to be leaving tomorrow. Let me hear how sad you are.” She put her hand to her ear to performatively listen to the audience’s boos and grumbles. “Damn, ok, that’s worse than I thought. But! Have no fear, my job, along with my band of very handsome gentlemen behind me, is to keep you entertained for the next couple of hours. In the spirit of, well, keeping our spirits up, let’s get started with Happy. Please sing and clap along if you know the words. Just don’t outshine me.”

Katya laughed, her parents joining in. She swayed in her seat along to the poppy beat and watched Trixie shake her hips and float her arms up and down during the bridge, unobstructed by her guitar seemingly unneeded for this particular song.

“Alright!” Trixie whooped into her mic. She went through a succession of upbeat, cheery tunes, hyping up families to get up and dance, and passed acerbic comments in between tracks that left everyone clamouring for her attention.

“This next one I remember being played on the radio a lot when it was first released but I never really vibed with it when I was younger. I usually don’t have this song in my set but I asked the guys if we could slot it in at the last minute. You better give us a standing ovation once we’re done, ok? I promised them it would be worth it so you’ve gotta promise me to go wild, because the lyrics are starting to really mean something to me at the moment. Ooh, we’re getting personal on this Friday afternoon! Ok, ok, enough of me ranting. This is Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall.”

Katya stood, giving all her attention to what Trixie was about to perform. Trixie and her guitarist alternated the first strums of the song and when she sang, “Her face is a map of the world, is a map of the world”, Katya’s whole body and spirit froze, fixed in place by Trixie gazing up at her and not once looking away until the last few notes. Her voice was stronger than Katya had heard it before. She was no expert, of course, but it sounded that way to her. Maybe she was biased. She was definitely blushing the house down by the end, anyway.

The crowd obediently catered to Trixie’s whims and she thanked everyone for indulging her. “You can all have a drink on me.” She announced, eliciting a further roar of applause, only to tell everyone to pipe down, she was kidding. “I’m not made of money. I work on a cruise ship, people, I’m obviously not that successful a singer.”

Katya wiggled about for the rest of Trixie’s set and was pleased to see the majority of other guests with her, up on their feet to dance and sing along to whatever she was playing.

For her last song, Trixie beckoned as many people as she could to the space in front of the stage. Katya, with the nagging of her parents, rushed across the deck, down the stairs and snuck her way to the front so she was positioned right before Trixie. Trixie didn’t see at first, tapping her pedal board and tweaking her tuning. But then, when she looked up and saw Katya there, purposefully leering at her with her unhinged jaw, she broke out into a careening laugh.

Trixie and her band pulled out all the stops for a rendition of Go Your Own Way. Once Trixie had finished up, thanking the crowd and wishing them a fantastic evening, it took all Katya’s restraint not to jump up on the stage and give her a knock-out kiss. Trixie, nevertheless, singled her out with a dorky high five that sent them both into hysterics.

When the crowd had thinned and she was relatively out of earshot of the people around them, all too busy ordering their final drinks before getting ready for dinner, Katya hung by the side of the stage and threw compliment after compliment Trixie’s way. “Oh and you guys were great too. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to brush you all off, I’m just not used to thinking about men.” Trixie’s bandmates didn’t quite know how to react to such an admission but Trixie thanked her on their behalf and told them to scamper.

“Thanks, Katya.” One of them waved to her before leaving.

She waved back. “Which one’s he again?” She spoke out the side of her mouth.

Trixie put her head in her hands. “Oh my god.”

Katya lapped up the scraps of time she got handed as Trixie tidied up the stage and was grateful Jan or another officer wasn’t around to steal her away prematurely.

“They’re all getting ready for the, like, parade thing this evening.” Trixie explained when Katya vocalised her delight.

“The what?”

“You’ll see.”

Back down in her cabin, Katya pulled the final, unseen look from her wardrobe and smiled, remembering exactly what had happened with Trixie the last time she had worn a suit. This one was made of a deep purple velvet, its jacket a smoking style which tied at the waist. Underneath, she put on a silk printed shirt, a jaguar’s face on the chest looking out all fierce and intimidating in the gap between her black lapels.

Everything else apart from the outfit she was going to wear to the airport the next day was packed away, ready to go. Her main suitcase had to be left outside her room to be collected whilst she was at dinner and so she had organised it all rather spectacularly (low expectations of herself, admittedly) to get it sorted in good time.

She took advantage of everything offered to her at dinner. Whilst tucking in to dessert, the restaurant’s lights dimmed and the quaint background music silenced. Jan’s voice, loud and chirpy, rang out across the room, introducing the culinary team, the head chef, then all the other divisions of crew - the engineers, the cleaners, the hospitality team, a whole list of people who helped make the cruise a smooth sail. The captain and first and second officers were named and applauded and then, to indistinguishable celebratory music, all the staff trotted around the restaurant to the magnitudinal commendation of the diners.

Katya consequently understood what the hell Trixie had been on about. “Holy shit.” Her parents didn’t hear her, too busy high-fiving the maître d' as he jogged past.

Her parents didn’t bother with the show and so instead they all enjoyed a range of drinks at the ice bar, chatting with the mixologists. One had very much taken a shine to Katya but her mom told him she was involved with a man back home. Katya laughed at her excuse afterwards.

“He was Russian, Katya, you know what Russian men are like.”

“Mom, I know what all men are like and that is exactly why I stay as far away from them as possible at all times.”

“You’ve got the right idea there, darling. I wish I could do that.” She huffed, sending a scathing look to her left. Katya’s dad was striking up a conversation with a British man about a previous cruise they’d been on, passing what he thought were smart remarks at the top of his voice. “Kill me now. Can I come back to LA with you instead?”

At exactly ten fifteen, they made their way up to the sky lounge and sat at their preferred table as Trixie was introducing her band and their first song. Katya danced the night away, barely resting for a minute and even then just to drink her champagne with no risk of spilling it, on herself or someone else. She had shed her jacket and rolled up the sleeves of her shirt, exposing her tattoos, the cat on her wrist and her own creepy drawing on her forearm, and she hadn’t missed the way Trixie had looked at them. She’d get it out of her later, Katya thought, just what it was that was making her so hot under her lack-of-a collar.

She was pleasantly buzzed by the end, spinning in circles then standing on the spot with her eyes closed as the room caught up with her. The DJ was about to take over and that was her cue to motion to Trixie that she would see her in a few minutes. When she looked to the stage, Trixie had packed her things away but had abandoned them on the side, strutting over to her instead.

“May I have this dance, young, well, old lady?”

Katya burst out laughing, covering her heated face with her hands and peeping through her fingers. “When you charm me like that, how can I refuse?”

She made sure to hug her parents before they left, and thanked them for such a wonderful time.

Then, she averted her attention back to the fucking insane woman in front of her.

“I put a request in with the DJ,” Trixie grinned, her pink lips and harsh contour accentuating her smug expression, “He obviously doesn’t have your bizarro shit. But he has some of mine, because I gave it to him and I want you know I’ll think of you when I listen to this song in the future.”

“Ugh, gross.” Katya joked but pulled Trixie into her by the hands, a little rougher than she meant to but she didn’t care. Neither did Trixie, going off how close her lips were to Katya’s. The first track of the DJ’s set was still playing and so Trixie led Katya into the middle of the floor. “You’re a hundred percent sure you won’t get told off for very obviously fraternising with a guest?”

Trixie nodded. “Jan knows. She’s cool with it, we’ve talked it through. The higher ups won’t be hearing about it and the captain’s a dyke too so she’d be on my side.” There weren’t many people left, a lot of guests due very early starts (Katya had taken note of all the allotted disembarkation times on the letter left in her room from guest relations). Katya wrapped her arms around Trixie in what she initially intended to be a slow-dance hold but ended up evolving into a hug, long and tight.

Trixie only pulled away when the opening bars of her requested song blared through the speakers. She took Katya’s hands again and started stepping side to side when the beat came in.

“What the fuck is this?” Katya asked, genuinely unaware.

“Shut up! It’s Michelle Branch, ok, this song is everything. Dance with me and fucking listen.”

Katya didn’t expect the guitars, the pop rock sound and crashing drums. They jumped about together, acting like total idiots, and Trixie gave it her all when enacting the lyrics with her moves, closing her eyes and outstretching her arms, purposefully grappling over Katya’s boobs whilst singing, “It’s you I see. You’re everything I know that makes me believe I’m not alone.”

During the final chorus, Trixie slung her arms over Katya’s shoulders and, as the acoustic guitar part rounded off the song, Katya couldn’t wait, tipping her face up towards Trixie’s and kissing her like she had been desperate to all day.

They rushed, after that - Trixie to thank the DJ and collect her things and Katya to down a couple of glasses of water and dash to her cabin. When Trixie waltzed through her door, Katya let her pick her up and spin her around. She carried her straight to the bed and placed her down with some accompanying cheeky comments about her size.

“For how much of a clunky broad you are, you really are quite adorable.” Katya laughed into Trixie’s hair as she kissed up her neck. “That was, uh, that was real sweet. What you did. And I’m not just talking about Michelle Bonch - Banch. What’s her name?”

Trixie raised herself up, motioned grabbing Katya’s throat with her hand and throttling her. “I will kill you. Michelle Branch!”

“Yeah, that’s what I said!” Katya affected. They laughed into each other necks until Katya determined to be serious for one whole fucking minute and finish what she had tried to broach. “I liked how you put that other song in your set too, how you were the one watching me during that performance.”

Trixie kissed her, cupped her face with her hand, delicate but forthcoming. “Music’s how I express myself. It’s a fun way to get the message across.” Another kiss, then a few more. Katya sighed into them.

“I have another way in mind, too, y’know.”

They fucked, side by side, watching each other in the brief reprieves between kissing, deep and wet and as a means to memorise. Katya tasted Trixie everywhere, ran her nose across where her scents were strongest, felt her breasts and her curves and the ridges of her cellulite and listened to her come, filthy noises leaving her spit slicked mouth, unimpeded.

Katya lay back and let Trixie eat her out. She paused whenever Katya was getting close to describe just how hot she looked in her suit. “Your tattoos are so sexy but only getting a glimpse of them and then everything else of you being covered, ugh, that was so fucking erotic to me.” Trixie rubbed what felt like her whole face against her cunt and, once she finally orgasmed after being brought to the brink and left there so many fucking times, she licked her own wetness off of Trixie’s chin, her lips and the side of her mouth.

Trixie raised herself to sitting, running her hand up and down Katya’s shin. Katya, still coming down, remained a dead weight, slack and content. She frowned as Trixie suddenly shifted, a discomfort overtaking her posture, the lines by her mouth deepening with concern.

“Everything ok?”

Yes, yeah,” Trixie rushed out, likely conscious of Katya’s disposition, her inclination to catastrophize, “I just...we should talk, shouldn’t we? I mean, it would’ve been a bit wiser not to leave it to the last minute maybe but I guess it’s not a matter of when, just that we do. I…” She trailed off, hanging on Katya’s contribution.

Katya propped herself up with her pillows, giving herself a few seconds to collect her thoughts, to shift through the worries and uncertainties to get to what was actually crucial. “Let’s talk then. I know I’m not the most, uh, stable of people but I— don’t feel like you have to tiptoe around shit. You don’t mince your words usually so don’t now. I’m good.”

Her voice sounded a little harsher than she had intended but luckily Trixie didn’t seem to be offended.

Perhaps the most astonishing thing to come out of her trip, Katya thought then, was that Trixie had loosened her tongue (pun fully intended) without even trying. She hadn’t pressured her to open up, she hadn’t asked any leading or intrusive questions. She probably hadn’t even divulged her deepest fears or secrets herself, but what she had shared was enough for Katya to respond to, to match her and communicate on a level that was appropriate. Katya had spent her year bottled up, contained in company and explosive in solitude. With Trixie, she hadn’t needed to control, to patch up the holes in her in an attempt to prevent any leakage.

“Ok,” Trixie smiled, made a point to keep looking at her, “I think it’s clear we’re both at a point where we’re undergoing changes, let’s say. And I think we’re adult enough to be aware that both of our situations aren’t ideal, but also aren’t worth discrediting. So, I’ll tell you what I think’s best and then you can call me a dick or agree or, huh, whatever really, and we’ll go from there. But just know that I’ve had a fucking blast getting to know you. You’re something else, y’know.”

Katya swallowed. “So are you.”

Trixie opened her mouth but promptly closed it again, evidently changing her mind on something on the spot. She leaned over, coming onto her hands and knees and levelling herself with Katya. Tilting her head to the side, she parted her lips and grazed them over Katya’s. Katya ran her fingers through her hair, getting it out of their way. She stroked down her face, cupping her jaw and beckoning her in. They kissed, a confirmation of their conversation, and Katya bit down on her bottom lip, unable to articulate the beauty of the intensity she felt any other way. Licking over the sore spot, she slid her index and middle finger down Trixie’s neck to rest above her pulse point. Whatever they decided on, there was something between them that would forever be kept alive.

They ended up face to face again, sharing the same pillow as they had done for so many nights previously.

Katya played with Trixie's hand, encouraging her to continue. “This isn’t the kind of situation where I beg you to stay another two weeks, or where we instantly make arrangements to see each other as soon as my contract ends. I don’t think I would be happy cutting off contact, like, limiting ourselves to the duration of your vacation either. But I have shit to work through, you have stuff to work through too, you need to stay focussed on your health and, basically, this is my long winded way of saying, why don’t we swap numbers and if, in a few months down the line, we’re still alright, we re-evaluate then?”

Katya huffed a laugh, a short, sharp outpouring of relief. “I couldn’t have said it better myself.” She played with Trixie’s hair, curling it and uncurling it with her index finger. “I’ve fucking adored this trip but it isn’t real life, it isn’t my life and I need to, to go back and sort out what all that shit actually looks and feels like. I thought about staying on, of course I did, and I hope me deciding against doing that— well, it’s not like, bye bitch, I got what I wanted so we’re done. I didn’t expect any of this. I just...I need to face up to reality and I think maybe, just maybe, I’m strong enough to do that now.”

“Oh thank god, I thought I was just rambling to soften a blow.” Trixie turned to mush her face into the pillow.

“No need to soften any blows on my account.” Katya japed, sticking her tongue out and flicking it up and down, then side to side, when Trixie faced her again.

“On second thoughts…” Trixie joked, cackling. She asked Katya to pass her her phone and put her number in to her contacts, adding a couple of pink heart emojis next to her name. “Text me when you get home, just so I know your plane didn’t crash or whatever, and then, I dunno, let’s just take it from there. Whatever ends up being right, right?”

“Right.” Katya nodded, overly deadpan until Trixie twigged she was teasing her and they burst into hysterics, all seriousness eradicated by their joint mastery of nonsense.

It was nearing the early hours of the morning and Katya was fighting off tiredness. When Trixie protested, telling her she should rest before her journey home, Katya insisted she could sleep on the flight. “Just give me a minute.” She got up out of bed and jumped up and down, making sure her landings were soft against the carpet so as not to make too much noise. Trixie made fun of her ridiculousness, which only spurred Katya on further, breaking out some god-awful dance moves (the very thing that had charmed Trixie so in the first place) and whipping her hair around.

“I feel like I’ve just witnessed a possession. Do I need to call a priest?”

Katya came to pose in a wide stance, hands cupping her breasts and hair falling over half her face. “No but I wouldn’t mind a couple of sexy nuns.”

“I am not roleplaying that.” Trixie laughed, coming to the edge of the bed and taking hold of Katya’s waist, dragging her on top of her as she lay back.

“Oh come on,” Katya smirked, rolling her hips and pressing herself into Trixie. “Don’t you have some sins to confess? Or are you more about getting on your knees to pray?”

After much protesting and bickering back and forth, they crashed back into each other, the lack of remaining time together hanging over their heads. Katya rutted into Trixie’s thigh, pushed her hands above her and held them there, pressing down with just enough pressure to trap her. Trixie moaned, a renewed flush creeping over her face, down to her chest. Katya felt her wetness drag along Trixie’s skin, dipped her head to suck on her nipples and bit a mark into her flesh. A reminder.

They came within seconds of each other and held on with desperate limbs for as many minutes as they had left.


Katya took one last look around her cabin, checking she hadn’t forgotten anything. She had her carry on luggage all packed up outside and her sea pass card in her hand, ready to use for the final time. She closed the door, shouting down the hallway to Ernesto, thanking him for all that he had done and requesting that he tell her cabin attendant the same. Her gratuities had already been paid and she was pleased to know that they were evenly shared out between all the crew at the end of the twelve day cycle.

Trixie was leaning against the opposite wall, next to some framed artwork Katya hadn’t taken any notice of before. “Sorted?”

“Yep. Can’t wait to walk around the airport in heels like a monster. What was I thinking?” She sighed, looking down at her Louboutins.

“That you’re a fierce bitch who don’t need no depression?” Trixie supplied, taking her hand.

“Absolutely.” Katya walked the few steps to her parents’ door and knocked.

The four of them congregated in the narrow corridor. Her mom wished Trixie the best for the rest of her contract and kissed her cheek. “I hope this isn’t the last we see of you.” She said and, before Katya could groan from embarrassment, added, “On another cruise or otherwise.”

“Thank you. I’m sure I’ll crop up sometime, somewhere.” Trixie, as ever, handled her perfectly.

Her dad shook Trixie’s hand and repeated how lovely it was to meet her.

“Katya, we’ll just wait for you by the elevators, ok?” Her mom nudged her dad and they tactfully left them to it.

Trixie grinned. Katya didn’t quite know what to do.

“So...take care, safe flight and good luck to your feet.” Trixie squeezed her hand, coaxing her.

“Thank you. Good luck, uh, performing on no sleep today.”

Trixie assured her she’d have a nap and that she’d charm the new batch of guests expertly. “Come on, you better get going.”

Katya nodded, solemn at first, but broke out into a cheeky smile. “Not without a filthy kiss first, you whore.”

“You just can’t get enough!”

She couldn’t deny it, so instead slung her arms around Trixie’s neck and kissed her like they were back in her cabin and had a whole night’s worth of opportunity to explore each other.

“Wow…” Trixie blinked. “That’s one to remember.”

Katya kissed her again, shorter, becoming conscious of keeping her parents waiting. “I’ll text you.” She said, anything else redundant.

Trixie bit her lip, let her go. Katya took hold of her suitcase and began to walk away. She could hear her parents talking as she got nearer to the stairwell. Just before she turned the corner, she looked back and paused. Trixie had her arms wrapped around herself but she smiled and raised her hand to wave at her. Katya waved back, shook her head and carried on.

She wasn’t leaving Trixie behind - she didn’t need to take her.

Her parents both brought her into a hug and got into the elevator with her, down to Deck 2, to their exit. Katya let out a shaky breath and braced herself for the outside world.


Stepping onto the portside, Katya looked up at the ship, to the very top deck, then down to the open door and gangway where her fellow passengers were getting off. Her parents had organised a taxi to take them to the airport. First, they had to get through the terminal building to find and collect their bags. They were organised by deck and class and so it was easy to find their things as there were fewer concierge class guests than otherwise. Her dad dragged her suitcase along too, despite her protestations, and they found the right pickup spot at the taxi rank.

In the car, Katya watched indistinct buildings pass as they sped down the I-95 towards Miami International Airport. Her parents were quiet as well. Katya wasn’t ready to let herself think over the trip, over everything that had transpired, but she sat with her grief, knowing she would prod at it later.

She was able to go through TSA with her parents, their flights scheduled close together. They sat outside a Dunkin’ Donuts with giant iced coffees and thus memories of her home city aplenty. Katya’s mom insisted she get some snacks for the plane and so she was lumbered with a bag filled with a cream cheese bagel, a coffee roll and a Boston Crème. She pretended to be put out. Really, she knew she would feel bereft of such maternal fawning throughout the following few days, getting home to an empty fridge, a silent apartment.

“Thank you.” She mumbled. “Not just for this.” She raised the striped bag. “For everything, always. I hope you know how, uh, how grateful I am, and that I’m serious about getting better. This has really helped. Sorry if I kind of went off with Trixie a bit too much but it was nice. It was all really, really nice.”

Ever working to the last minute, she admitted all that had gone on, didn’t skip the uncomfortable details of her pain and her mismanagement of it. Her parents had known about the business taking a hit but Katya had only previously divulged the mistakes and not the true effects of them on her health.

Her mom held her and didn’t let go until their flight number was called. “Thank you, too, Katya. It’s been wonderful being with you.”

“We love you so, so much.” Her dad said, kissing her forehead. “We’re always here. Call us if ever you need anything, no matter what time of day. No matter what, ok?”

“I will.” She promised, bundled up in his arms.

She went with them to the gate and waved them off until they were out of sight. She had half an hour before her own gate opened. She meandered then sat with her phone for the remaining wait.

Opening up her messages, she went straight to her thread with Fena. The last one she had sent told her to enjoy her break from her and thanked her for everything she had done. She typed out a new one and read it aloud to herself, liking how much more positive she sounded.

“Hey, just at the airport. Had a fantastic time - I have so much to tell you on Monday. I’m actually looking forward to being back in the office but would also like to go to dinner and properly catch up. Hope you’ve survived these past two weeks, despite obviously missing me sooooo much.” She added a kissy face emoji for good measure and huffed a laugh to herself, imagining Fena’s reaction.

Her plane was on time and she got to her seat with minimal fuss. She was positioned by the window and, once she had stowed her luggage and fastened her seat belt, got out her earphones, cranked up her music and tried to let whatever was due to come to the surface do so.

A few minutes before the plane was scheduled to take off, she opened up a new message thread.

“Helloooo.” She began with, wondering how best to proceed. “I’m on the plane.” Great start. “Just thought I’d text now because of time differences and your star status, being so in demand on the ship (and lack of signal etc). I may or may not be listening to Michelle Bonch (it’s Branch, I know, I KNOW, but doesn’t Bonch sound funnier?) and thinking how excellent we both are at dancing. And fucking. Not too terrible at the heart-to-hearts either, though our piss and shit jokes obviously still reign supreme. Anyway, I better turn on airplane mode. Enjoy having to sing to people who can’t shake their ass as wonderfully as me. Difficult, yes, but someone’s gotta do it. I will think of you the next time I hear Dusty Springfield...and the next time I use that bullet vibe. They say romance is dead! I had an amazing time with you, if that wasn’t crystal clear before. Ok, shit, we’re about to take off. Bye, I guess?! Katya xx”

Katya pressed send, hunched over her phone. She watched the ‘delivered’ status pop up, then sat back, heaving a huge sigh.

It had been difficult to reconcile what had gone on between her and Trixie and her own growth back into a person who could potentially make space for someone else. It seemed like she had dived head first into intimacy again whilst, all the while, being freed from the pressure of serious expectation. Having Trixie take charge, determine how they would both frame their experience together, took away the stress for Katya.

She was pleased that they had gotten a nice moment with one another before she had left, one removed from the confines of her cabin but secluded enough to be private - special - to them alone.

During the ascent, she closed her eyes, the familiar drone of the plane and her own shallow breath doing little to keep her where she was right then, her thoughts wandering back to the water, the gentle rock of the ship, the point where tepid waves met the sands of postcard picture beaches. Her memories were well made, beautiful in how they evolved in her mind’s eye. She saw herself sink beneath the surface, floating amongst the fish, with Trixie, without her, laughing into her snorkel beside her dad and coming up again to walk the shoreline with her mom.

The tide had taken her in and now she was ready to be sent out again, nourished and calm, to resume her life on land once more.