Rising Tide (Chapter Eight)
Illustrations By Jenny Cooper
To read previous chapters go to Stories
Ari slid his feet under the sheets and the warm covers. He pulled the duvet up to his chin and let the warmth sink into his skin. He had never been so happy to be tucked up in his own bed.
He could hear his sisters fighting down the hall. He tried to overhear what they were arguing about, but then he stopped. He didn’t really want to hold on to any more secrets, not in this family.
There was a soft knock at the door, and Ari didn’t have to look up to know it was his koro.
“Mind if an old man takes a load off in here, mate?” asked Koro, smiling.
Ari smiled back and scrunched his legs up to make room for Koro.
Koro sat on the end of his bed, supporting his cast with his good arm. “I can’t tell you how glad we all are to have you safely home, you ratbag. We’d be lost without you. Yes – even those sisters of yours were worried.”
“Koro, how did Dad know where to find me?” asked Ari.
At that moment, Ari’s dad appeared in the doorway and leaned against the door frame. He was still a bit wobbly on his crutches.
“Dad reminded me that I used to like to go up the river,” Ari’s dad said, looking at Koro. “Especially when I had some serious thinking to do.”
“When you were in trouble, more like!” laughed Koro.
“I always thought you didn’t know about that old boat,” said Dad, shaking his head.
“Do you think anyone else knows?” asked Ari.
“They do now!” Koro and Dad replied at the same time, laughing.
Ari remembered then that the dinghy wasn’t in its old resting spot any more. He wondered where he’d go to escape now.
His dad seemed to read his thoughts. “How about we find a new place to sit and think? Make it big enough for two, so we can chat when we need to, eh, son?”
“Make it big enough for three, and I won’t tell your sisters!” Koro laughed.
“Seriously, Ari. Your koro and me both know what it’s like to struggle with the old reading and writing. Keeping it a secret didn’t make it any easier for us, and I don’t think it’ll work for you either.”
“Wait. What? Really, Dad?” Ari thought again about the clipboard at the hospital.
“Actually, Ari, I find it really hard to read, and harder still to spell and write things down. I’m good with my hands, you know that. I can read the river, just like you. But when it comes to reading words it’s really, really hard for me.”
Ari couldn’t believe it. This was Dad’s secret? That he was just like Ari?
“But … but, Dad, how …?”
“How do I know you’re finding it hard too?”
“Yes, that, but how do you run the business? How do you manage it all?”
“I have help! Your mum helps me. Pat in the office helps me. Sometimes I make mistakes and have to fix them, and sometimes I make mistakes and I can’t fix them by myself. I owe you an apology, Ari. I should have told you sooner. I felt ashamed. I didn’t want you to know.”
“It would have really helped me to know, Dad,” Ari said softly, not looking up.
Koro moved over and Dad sat down next to Ari on the bed.
“Ari, we’re in this together, mate – all of it. Let’s make a deal. If one of us has a problem, we’ll share it. We’re a family, and we all need help with the hard bits.”
“The hardest bit in this family is Ari!” Kiri’s voice floated through the door.
Good to see things are back to normal, thought Ari, leaning into his dad.
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