Stuart Stern – Disembarkment

My bedroom was rocking like a freaky funhouse. I prayed for it to stop, but it never did, because life wasn’t that kind. Cruel, actually, as I suffered from disembarkment syndrome. It all started with a sin, of sorts, when I met a married woman named Bobbie. She wanted me to take her on a trip, so we boarded the ferry in Liverpool and crossed the Irish sea. On the way, the waves rocked the boat from side to side, and Bobbie sang that old nursery rhyme row, row, row your boat…

When we arrived at Port Saint Mary — a former fishing port on the Isle of Man — my feeling of sea sickness went away. We walked along the promenade and the pier. Bobbie photographed the starboard anchor of Mona’s Queen, a memorial to those killed on the vessel sunk be a sea mine during the Dunkirk evacuation. To be honest, I wasn’t really interested in history. Too boring. The getaway was all about getting Bobbie into bed, making her do things she didn’t like, but she only had herself to blame.

I was too tough to show it, but I dreaded the ferry ride home. The waves were even rougher on the way back. Bobbie was still singing row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream so I locked myself in the toilet and spent the return journey throwing up.

For months after, I had the constant feeling of being at sea. My nausea only stopped when I slept, but I couldn’t sleep because of the headaches. As soon as the migraines started, I went to see my GP, who referred me to an ear, nose, and throat specialist, who conducted hearing and balance tests, and I was diagnosed with disembarkment syndrome.

I was told to run outdoors, keeping my eyes on the horizon, which was supposed to help re-balance my bobbing brain — but it didn’t work. I went from no sleep to twelve hours a night. Some days I didn’t get up. The tumbling and turning was torture. After a period of long-term sick leave, I quit my sales job. As for that bitch, Bobbie, she wouldn’t reply to any of my texts, so I threatened to come clean to her husband about our dirty weekend together.

One morning, I rolled out of what felt like a waterbed and headed for the bathroom — imagine walking on a trampoline. I poured a glass of water and took my pills. That’s when I realised I was just her bit on the side to side to side and meant nothing to her. In the mirror, my reflection spun clockwise.

Back in the bedroom, I was greeted by a far more terrifying visual disturbance. Bobbie was wearing gloves. In her right gloved hand she held a kitchen knife, which she inserted into my chest, through my already broken heart. When my cold-hearted killer removed the blade, my brain fog cleared completely, and I’m ashamed to say it brought me to a mind-numbing climax.

Bobbie left the room, left me dying, but satisfied. I craved a cigarette. The fun was over in the funhouse, and so I sang row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream as I boarded the ferry back to Port Saint Mary.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.