(I wrote this story back in August as an assignment for the writing group meeting. The prompt had been “insanity” but somehow I ended up just writing something. I turned out to be so curious about where it went from there that I ended up writing part two and the beginning of part three in September. You’ll have to wait for part 2, though, because I have to make a small alteration to it before posting it here.)
Finally they had gotten the fire going. Not exactly blazing heat but at least a little warmth against the salty, stinging wind coming from the
sea. They huddled close to it, looking into the flames as men had done since the dawn of time, their stomachs growling.
When they had planned to go onto this trip it had sound like fun. Go to an island, live on the beach for a week. Fun. Rub shoulders with nature,
and then go home with stories to tell.
Well, there sure would be stories to tell but then they weren’t as sure anymore how to make it home.
Laura held her hands close to the fire, her front too hot, and her back still exposed to the chilling wind. It felt as if those tiny salt
crystals that were everywhere cut right through to her bones. She never got the appeal of campfires and barbecues, and now she had to rely on
this to keep her even vaguely comfortable. She remembered how it always took too long for the food to get ready, and how everbody had started
eating the salads until no one had wanted all that slightly burned meat. Only there weren’t any salads this time. She longed for the coziness of
central heating and delivered pizza, to say nothing of hot baths and warm beds, while thinking that today she would be lucky to get enough
slightly burned fish to get satisfied. Right there she would have killed for a bit of pepper or a twig of rosemary.
At least they did get to keep their sleeping bags, the water filters, shovels, knives, and fishing gear. They were very lucky that the boat
that flipped over held no essentials.
On the other hand it would have been really nice to have things like bread, soup, or tents.
Laura tried to be grateful that they had enough to eat, and were reasonably warm but then she would have loved to be at home right now,
snuggling under a blanket watching TV.
The others were getting on her nerves. Stan, their self-proclaimed outdoor expert who had needed five matches to light the fire, Lenny, who
was in charge of cooking, and who already had dropped the fish twice, Samantha who kept whining that her hair was looking terrible, and her
friend Michelle who didn’t say much and seemed to be still in shock after her boat keeled over. Well, it could have been worse, everybody
wore life-vests, and they got by on clams, crabs, and fruit.
She wondered how long it would take until they would be rescued. The others didn’t doubt that there would be a rescue party anytime soon but
she thought that it would be at least three weeks, and then only for the ones who had to go to work.
The thought of spending about three more weeks with these people made her restless. Despite the windchill she got up for a walk on the beach.
“Laura? Whatcha doin'”, Samantha asked, “You can’t go along the beach all alone after dark.”
Of course she could. There was no one here besides them, the island was too small for any predators, and she’d see the fire on her way back.
Stupid, city-dwellers, Laura thought. She shouldn’t have come, and her boyfriend didn’t look as attractive any more, now that he sat there at the fire, pretending to know something about cooking over an open fire.
Laura hadn’t thought much about her time as a girl scout or going camping with her parents until now when she had to find out that the
people she called her friends were completely unprepared for living in the real world. It seemed that taking away their mobile phones,
refridgerators and cars made them totally helpless.
Well, better to learn survival on a tropical island than in Alaska.
Somebody came after her.
“Laura, you can’t go off on your own.”, Stan pleaded.
“Why not?”, she answered.
“No, it isn’t. There’s moonlight, there’s the fire, the island is small,
and there are no big animals living here.”
“There could be sharks.”
“I don’t want to go for a swim, I’m just taking a short walk, calm down.”
“Then let me go with you.”
There seemed to be no way out, so she went back to the fire. The fish wasn’t done yet. It looked quite burned, though. Not exactly a gourmet meal.
Maybe she should cook the next fish herself. And while she dreamed of that she also thought about catching the next fish herself. She could
make herself a spear and get some of the bigger fish in the lagoon. She remembered how her mother had showed her to be perfectly still until the
fish forgot her. But if she made herself a spear Stan would know that she had more tools in her backpack than she had let him know. And when
she thought about what he had managed to do to his own innocent leatherman tool she knew she wasn’t ready yet. More crabs in the future.