At sea.

The word he used was “strife.”

strife: /straɪf/[strahyf]


1.vigorous or bitter conflict, discord, or antagonism: to be at strife.
2.a quarrel, struggle, or clash: armed strife.
3.competition or rivalry: the strife of the marketplace.
4.Archaic. strenuous effort.
Strife meant, to her, that last one. The arcane “strenuous effort.” She had done that–listed for miles and miles, starboard,  in a ship constructed of strenuous effort. No land in sight. From the lookout from where she stood, there was no home. Just the vast ocean of gray sea.
But it was not always so. Once:

She was a girl who played library as a child. At the kitchen table, she quietly opened book after book and pretended to stamp a due date into their covers. She solemnly slid the books across the table to the invisible borrower, and would say in an authoritative voice, “Please do not be tardy returning your books. Enjoy reading this, it is one of my favorites.”

He was a boy who had a brilliant thought as a child. He climbed to the top of his mother’s house, to the roof. With faith born of magical thinking, he jumped off the roof, believing a garbage bag would be a suitable parachute. Perhaps he imagined his small form floating softly to the ground.

They had big imaginations, once. They didn’t know Webster’s entry for strife. They knew the particular latitudes of freedom, where the ocean met land and they could find their landlegs. She knew of books of poetry and stories where heroic acts take place. He knew the dizzing freedom of flying through the air without knowing what the landing would be.

(One life. You get to live it.)