by Chris Lowther, Tofino
Nina lives on one of the islands, rows to town in what looks like a currach. By the skins of what animal is her little boat held together? I don't ask.
"I'm a white witch, Ida," she confesses. "Just call me Double Dubya."
"Are you from the States?" I ask.
She ignores this.
"Dubya's the best letter in the alphabet. It makes waves. It looks like the chop on the inlet in a gale."
"Yes," I laugh nervously. "We need to reclaim it from George."
Her face is blank, uncomprehending.
"Say, Nina, there's lots of witches out here. They don't call themselves white. Is a white witch different?"
"I'm white, aren't I?" she frowns, the creases in her forehead meeting in well-worn ripples. "Take care, Ida. Wind wave and swell height." Off she goes along the dock to get her groceries. I realize how short she is. Her wispy, naturally greenish hair sticks out the bottom of her rain hat. The rain gear squeaks all the way to the top of the ramp. I'm still standing there, my hands hanging by my sides.
Over the next month I notice a blue-haired man paddling a canoe out toward her place several times. He never wears a hat even in torrential rain.
The next time I run into Nina is on the dock again. She tells me she's pregnant. My eyes
"It's not what you think," she says. "I haven't been having sex."
My eyes are popping. Her face is serious, those grey eyes gazing up at me.
"It's immaculate, Ida."
She pauses, the glint of a shared secret shining on her.
"I am Mary reincarnated, and I'm carrying the second coming of Christ."
I want to change the subject. Truthfully, I want to finish untying my boat and be gone. I bend down and work the ropes.
"Where are you from?"
I suddenly must know.
"Containerville, Manitoba," she replies.
I look up at her.
"Let me guess," I say.
"You were uncontainable."
"No, I just followed the rain. And Moses."
"Oh. Which Moses?"
One more rope to go...
"The Moses, Ida. The original." She has placed one hand lightly on my shoulder. She speaks with great patience.
"The blue-haired gentleman?" But I already know the answer.
She smiles, revealing straight, white teeth. "No."
I nod, and shrug, straightening up, holding my rope. "Well, that's... great news. Take care, now."
Summer comes and the town fills up with visitors; I don't see Nina for three months and I hardly notice.
But September, on the dock, she's tying her currach in a gale, salt spray hailstoning her rubber jacket. She doesn't look pregnant.
That hand on my shoulder again, reaching up, preparing me for a blow.
"Ida, I miscarried."
"Then it wasn't Jesus, Nina,"
I blurt out into the wind.
She nods. "It was. This place is too rough for him." Her currach is bobbing like a cork while my own boat bucks against the dock like a horse, ramming its bow into a fragile-looking bumper.
"Swell wind and high waves," she says, and trundles off towards town.
I stand there, buffeted and sprayed, and yell after her,
"Nobody miscarries Christ!"
Chris Lowther is a local writer and activist who calls Clayoquot Sound her home.