The Lion and I
When I awoke the next morning the sun was just rising, a brilliant crescent of reddish yellow light peeking its head above the ocean. The water was flat calm and I could just make out the sound of the ripples lapping at the beach. The fiery reds reflected from the surface of the water and it appeared as if a red carpet lay before me.
A seagull soared overhead, flying straight into the sun. As it flew further into the glowing morning horizon it soon became nothing more than a speck and a moment later was swallowed up by the fiery orb, which was now rapidly making its way up the eastern skyline.
I thought for a moment that I had found the most beautiful place on earth. I forgot everything for just that serene bit of time, no more time than it takes to tie your shoes.
I forgot about being shipwrecked, I forgot about my home and my job and I even forgot about Mary. Time stood still, I was entranced as I watched the sun race faster and faster in the sky until it was completely above the water line and only the squinting of my eyes from its radiant glory snapped me from my trance.
I picked up a coconut that I had opened the night before and finished drinking the fluid from the inside. I needed to find a water source. Coconut milk was not going to cut it. I was also hungry. I had never felt so hungry before and thoughts of eating that dead crab from the night before entered my mind.
I stood up and stretched. My whole body was stiff and ached something awful. I began to pinwheel my arms, trying to loosen up the muscles and get the blood flowing. It felt good so I started to hop up and down as I pinwheeled. That felt even better so I started running around in circles, arms pinwheeling out of control as I hopped around- half running, half skipping and hopping.
I let out a whoop like a wild Indian. Hell I felt like an Indian. I stopped running for a moment.
A thought had struck me funny and I looked around foolishly as if someone might be watching.
I let out another whoop and then a double whoop and then like some crazed spirit had taken possession of my body I removed what remaining clothes I had on and began to run up and down the beach in nothing but my birthday suit. I whooped and hollered and ran around jumping and rolling head over heels like some sort of deranged man monkey.
After a few moments, I stopped-I felt silly.
Sane people do not act like this I kept telling myself.
I gathered up my clothes and re-dressed myself. I took a few deep breaths and then, in my head, I started to list and prioritize the things I needed to accomplish.
Number one, I needed to find out where I was at, more specifically if this was an island or a larger piece of land that may have inhabitants nearby. My face turned red at the thought of people nearby and the chance that someone had just witnessed my little escapade. I giggled.
Secondly I needed to find some water.
Third was a toss up between food and shelter.
Although I was hungry as a bear in the spring I dreaded the thought of another night out in the open with those crazy beast crabs running amok.
I felt a little better once I had made a list. I had always been a list guy. I had lists for everything. Ironic, I thought, out here in the middle of nowhere with nothing and I'm still making lists.
Up and down the beach I looked. "Eenie, meany, mienie, moe," I said. I went left, which was north and began to walk. Every so often I would holler out, “HELP”. Everything looked the same for quite awhile.
I know now how far I walked that first day, which wasn't very far, but looking back it felt like forever. The beach began to shrink the further I went. It kept skinnying up to the forest and soon it was no more than a few feet wide and beginning to change to mostly rock and bleached out coral. The rocks soon turned into larger size boulders. They were mostly black and porous and I believed them to be volcanic rock as I had something quite similar in my flower beds at home. At least it looked the same.
It wasn't very long before I was off the sand and climbing on the rocks. The beach had disappeared altogether. To my left, the land had risen up steeply and now was a sheer cliff. Seabirds nested in rocky crags cut into the face of the rock wall. Their droppings painted the face white below their nests. I couldn't see any chicks in the nests but I could hear them up there squawking every time one of the parent birds would get close to the nest, a small flapping fish or minnow held firm in their beaks.
There was only one spot where I had to get into the water to continue my walk. The rocks dropped off into a small lagoon no more than 40 feet wide. On one side, the ocean and the other the face of the rock cliff. The water was crystal clear and it looked as if it were no more than a foot or two deep. I sat down on my butt and slid off the rock and dropped into the warm water of the lagoon. I was quite surprised when my feet did not reach the bottom. I dove down, swimming hard I touched the bottom within a few seconds. I guessed it to be around 15 feet deep or so. Colorful fish darted in circles around me as I swam for the surface. They chased the air bubbles I let out from my nose. Dashing in and dashing out with nothing more than a quick flip of their tails.
I swam to the other side and crawled up on the rocks once again. I made a mental note that this would be a great place for fishing if I was here long enough to need it. I resumed my walk on the other side of the lagoon and just as the rocks had begun to appear and form the cliffside they now began to disappear and the land gradually faded back to flat again. The beach opened up and I was able to quicken my pace.
I walked for a few hours that morning and just as I was beginning to get discouraged I came across some footprints. Lots of footprints. It looked like there had been some sort of gathering. Everywhere I looked I could see signs in the sand from people. I began to holler even louder as I walked.
“Hello...anybody there? Helllllllooooooo,” I hollered so loud my throat began to itch.
I kept walking a bit further when I saw something else on the beach. I broke into a jog and in a few seconds I was standing in front of a pile of driftwood. I looked around at my surroundings. Damn, everything looked the same. A set of tracks led up the beach, towards the woods and I followed them. Just before the sawgrass took over the sand I saw a mound in the sand.
“Son of a bitch,” I whispered. I'm on an island.