I must have been exhausted, for by the time I wake up, the tent is empty. Both Abby and Janice have left and when I reach the fire pit, I see that Michael and Charls are gone as well. I figure the two of them must have returned to the boat to work on it. Abby as I can see, is walking by the ocean not too far away, but Janice is nowhere in sight. Where could she have gone?
I decide to venture out into the woods in search for her. I soon hear a grown that I recognize. I then follow it leading me in the direction of the forest stream.
Janice is standing by the stream tossing something into the water. It looks almost like some type of rod.
“What’s going on?” I ask, when I reach her side.
“Just trying to catch some fish,” says Janice. “It’s a bit more challenging using this rod.”
I glance at the long stick with a long fish line and hook attached to it.
“How did you even put this together?” I ask curiously.
“Something Sandra taught me while we were living on our own.”
I stand watching her try to cat a fish for the next several minutes. She finally manages to catch one and smiles.
“Finally! I’ve been trying to catch one for over an hour.”
She then asks if I want to give it a try and I agree. It has been quite a while since I have gone fishing so I figure, why not?
It takes me a while to get settled, but soon I am working the hook in the water. I remain like that for thirty minutes before suggesting to Janice about using bait.
Janice then searches the dirt and manages to pull out a few worms. She then attaches one to the fishing hook and I cast it back into the water. It takes a while more, but finally I see a fish wiggling on the line. This was definitely going to come in handy for dinner tonight.
We stay for another hour and manage to catch three more fish. Two happen to be a bit on the larger size, so I figure they can probably be spread over a few days if need be.
We then venture back into the woods, stopping at the patch of fruits and vegetables growing in the dirt. Janice and I then harvest some more of them, dropping them into a sack that Janice had brought along.
It is after we finish and are packing the fruits back into her sack, that we hear a loud shriek. Though it is far away, I recognize the loud cry immediately. Abby! Taking one panicked look at Janice, I turn and start racing toward the forest clearing. Janice follows close behind me being careful not to drop the sack of food as she runs.
My heart is racing in my chest as I fear for the worst. With Abby’s muted silence and strange behavior, I can only imagine what could have happened to her. Thinking this, makes me run even faster to reach the clearing.
As we approach the beach, I see Charls carrying Abby in his arms. They are both drenched in water and she is shaking furiously in his arms.
“Oh my gosh!” I say, as they near Janice and I, “What happened?”
“Undertow,” says Charls, a bit out of breath. “I heard Abby scream from over on the left side, so I ran over. I then saw Abby being pulled under and I just jumped in. I think she might have hit her ankle though.”
Charls then places Abby carefully on the ground. “It just happened so quick. I just barely got to her in time.”
“Well, I’m glad you did.”
“Abby, are you okay?” he asks her softly, and for the first time in the past two days, she opens her mouth.
“Y-yes,” she says. Her hands are still trembling.
“You really gave me a scare. I thought I was going to lose you.”
Abby seems to tear up at this. “S-so d-did I.” she stammers. “I’m s-so sorry, I-I don’t know w-why I just w-walked into the water l-like that. It was s-so stupid.”
“Don’t say that,” says Charls. “You’re safe now. It’s going to be okay.”
Abby wipes the corners of her eyes sniffling quietly. I fight the urge to wrap my arms around her. I am just so happy she has seemed to snap out of her traumatized state.
Charls kisses Abby’s forehead and then rises to his feet. “I think Abby’s ankle might have gotten sprained when she was dragged in,” he says.
“I did find a first aid kit in one of the duffel bags,” says Janice. “There aren’t a lot of things in it, but I did see some type of wrapping gauze.”
Janice then goes to get the first aid kit and uses the gauze to wrap Abby’s ankle. Charls then carries Abby into her tent to help her lie down.
“I don’t think anything is sprained,” says Janice after they are gone. “I felt around and I didn’t feel anything. I think maybe she just irritated it. Still, I don’t want to speak if I don’t know for sure.”
“I’m just glad she’s talking,” I say, staring at the tent door. “I was so worried.”
“Agreed.” She then rubs her stomach. “I think we should grill up the fish. I’m sure everyone could use a break from eating just fruits and vegetables.”
“You’re telling me.”
We then walk back to the fire pit and that’s when I notice something interesting. There is now a strange looking wooden contraption standing not too far from a newer looking tent. As Janice slices up the freshly caught fish, Michael informs me about the new bag he and Charls found buried in the dirt. Inside, was more supplies and a smaller tent. He then explains to me how he and Charls had found some broken pieces of metal and chains and assembled them together to create some kind of stove.
“I figure it would be easier than placing everything on sticks all the time.”
Janice hands me cut pieces of fish and I light the newly made stove and then place the fish pieces on it.
“It works nicely,” I say, and turn the fish over.
“Lizzie,” Michael continues. “You know, we haven’t really gotten a moment alone together since…that night.”
I swallow sharply and stare directly into the grill. I have a feeling he is referring to the fight we had had just a few nights ago when we were still aboard Janice’s grandfather’s boat.
“I know,” I say softly. “So much has happened.”
“I think we need to talk.”
I sigh and turn the fish over again. “Michael, what’s the point? The way things are now, does it even matter?”
“Yes Lizzie! It does!”
I finish grilling the fish and then place them onto some flat rocks that seemed to look like plates to me. I am just about to grab a rock plate of fish myself, when Michael takes my hand and pulls me toward the empty new tent.
“Lizzie, you can’t keep avoiding this.”
I sigh. “I’m not trying to Michael, I’m just trying to make the best of an awful situation. I don’t think this is the time for us to be discussing this.”
“There will never be a right time, Liz.” Michael exhales. “A couple days ago, I thought we were all going to be dead. And you know what scared me the most? Going without solving this thing between us.”
“But we did solve it. I told you why I can’t marry you.”
“Yes, I know. Because of your parents getting divorced and-”
“-And you basically said it was no big deal.”
“I didn’t say that!”
“You practically did!” I raise my hands. ‘“They’re human, and things like this happen. Parents’ divorce all the time.”’ Remember saying that?”
I hold up my hand. “Michael, I don’t want to fight about this. We have enough things to worry about already to add this to it. Let’s just drop it.”
I then turn and walk away.
Things are awkward that evening as we eat around the fire pit. Michael is silent from where he sits opposite me and Abby is quiet as well. The only one who seems to be chatty is Charls who is telling us all about his and Michael’s progress on the boat.
“It’s proving to be a lot more challenging than I previously thought,” he says, after swallowing a bite of fish. “The wreckage is a bit more than I expected and the homemade tools we found are difficult to use on it. It’s going to take some substantial work to get it done.”
“Agreed,” says Michael. “It’s broken in several places. We will really have to work hard on patching it up if we want to make sure there won’t be any leaks when we put it in the water.”
“Let me know if you need any help,” says Janice. “I can definitely can lend a helping hand.”
Charls nods. “Will do.”
After finishing the fish on his plate, Charls places the rock plate down by the homemade stove and then walks over to Abby. She finishes her fish piece as well and then Charls helps her back into one of the tents. Michael, Janice and I remain at the fire a bit longer, sitting in complete silence.
I understand why Michael isn’t talking to me, but Janice looked a bit peeved with me as well. What is going on with her?
I am about to ask her about it, when she stands up suddenly and announces she is going to bed.
Not wanting an awkward long pause with Michael, I quickly excuse myself as well.
As I am about to enter into the tent with Janice, I look back and see Michael entering into the new tent. I instantly feel bad. Here he is just trying to fix things between us, and here I am all over the place with my feelings. Why can’t I just be upfront with him?
Then again, I kind of had been when I had told him that I was unsure about getting married back on the boat, but still. Why did I feel like I hadn’t? Like I had somehow left him hanging?
I then shake my head and slip in through the doors of the tent. This is all too much for me. I definitely need sleep. Maybe I will have a better answer for it all in the morning.