** Thank you for reading my novella so far! I hope you are enjoying it. If you have a minute, I would love if you could let me know your thoughts about it in the comments section. I’d like to hear what you think. In sharing my stories, I hope to give the reader a unique reading experience and in turn, your comments provide encouragement or constructive feedback. Thank you again for checking out my story! **
Dull pain throbbed on my abdomen, summoning me away from the black. I rolled over in confusion and pain, emptying the contents of my stomach into the hot sand. My ravaged lungs took in a desperate gasp of warm air as I lay half-dead. Something blocked my face from the sunlight.
“Drink this, sea rat.”
I started at the sound of his voice. Dash was sitting there with me on the beach. Too tired to speak, let alone move, I groaned. He gently tipped my head back and slowly poured coconut milk into my mouth.
“Drink it slow,” he said.
The liquid coated my raw throat, relieving my agonizing thirst. I grabbed the coconut with both hands, intending to guzzle the rest down, but he held it back.
“Stop that. You don’t want to risk choking it all up.”
I submitted to his help, even though it confused me. My entire body ached as though it had been kicked by a gang of street fighters.
“Why did you run to where you knew you would die?” he asked.
“I don’t know.”
Shaking his head, he reached out to help me stand. “We need to get you out of the sun. We’ll talk later.”
“Now you want to talk to me?”
I stood up too fast and the world spun around me. I lost consciousness and collapsed.
I awoke again alone under the shade of palm trees. I scanned the area, recognizing it with relief. He had carried me back to our beach. A couple of coconuts lay next to me. I picked one up and drank it. To my pleasure, it was water instead of juice. I was too tired to do much of anything, so I drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the day. I dreamed of my mother reading a book to me by the fire, but then the book rose from her thin hands and started to spin around with a collection of other books, like leaves in a whirlwind. They taunted me, for I would never read them. I had become like a character trapped inside of an adventure novel. I’d reached the end of the world and befriended an enemy and I wondered if that meant I would never go home.
A crackling fire drew me out of my strange dream and back to the real world, which was even stranger. I rolled over, watching Dash cook crab meat. I focused on the red of the crustacean’s shells. They were motionless as they roasted. He took care to kill them before placing them over the fire, just as I had. I smiled. I wanted to despise him for turning his back on me earlier, for driving me to try to end my life in the ocean, but I couldn’t. I was so happy to see him.
Sensing my awareness, he turned to face me.
“Did you sleep well?” he asked.
“I slept a lot.”
“Come and eat.”
We broke the shells together and ate the soft meat.
“This is not so different from a summer meal in France,” he said. “Good food, beautiful scenery, and agreeable company.”
“You told me that you were going to kill me.”
“I know. I didn’t mean it … I was just so angry about everything. I’m sorry I took it out on you.”
“Why did you save me?”
“You saved me.”
“Yes. Then you nearly killed me. Twice.”
Dash shook his head. “The moment that you left, I regretted telling you to go. I’m so sorry.”
I imagined what his eyes used to look like before the war burned them away. I pictured how they would have appeared as he apologized to me. Soft and brown.
“It’s all right,” I said quietly. “I think I know why you did it.”
He leaned forward. “I was starting to care for you and I didn’t want to. I still don’t know how I am going to find my place in the world … with me being this way.”
“There is no rush, Dash. You will find your place one day.”
We lay back in the sand after devouring the crabmeat. I watched the sky as it transformed from a baby blue canvas to a colourful mural of bright pink, orange, and navy. I wished that he could watch it with me, but he was seeing something else. Something that he didn’t want to talk about.
“What did you want to be when you grew up, before the war?” I asked.
“I wanted to be a well-known composer, or a poet, if I could ever find the inspiration.”
“You can pursue those things one day. You’ve nearly finished your own song.”
He shrugged. “What about you? What did you want to be?”
“A writer or a teacher. I want to write a novel.”
“I hope that you will. Perhaps you will write about me one day.”
“I just might, you know. Every story needs a villain.”
He threw his head back and laughed.
“I am glad that I met you, Max. I would have died alone in the darkness without you.”
I blinked quickly to hold my tears. “We saved one another. I would have gone mad out here all alone.”
He chuckled. “I’ll bet you never thought you’d be rescued by a crazy blind man who nearly killed you twice.”
We both laughed. His playful tone set the butterflies in my stomach to flight. Heat rose up from my neck and warmed my cheeks. He would never see my blush, but I wondered if he could sense it. Silence settled over us as darkness flooded over the island. We fell asleep with our words of hope still hanging in the air. The next day, I grabbed some spears and went to the shoreline while Dash slept in. I stood on a high rock overlooking the dark waters, waiting for the first ray of sun to pierce the horizon. An odd sense of unease hovered above me, threatening my mood of whimsy. I tried to shake the feeling off by jumping along the rocks.
When orange light pierced the darkness, I stopped to watch it. Tears streamed down my dusty face as the golden orb rose slowly over the ocean. I didn’t move from my spot, even as the sea dogs, giant lizards, and gulls brought the shore to life. I embraced my happiness along with the beauty surrounding me. The horizon was of similar shade to one of my mother’s pink hair ribbons. If she only knew how happy I was the last night, lying under the stars with Dash. I hoped that God would let her know in some way.