I wake up the next morning to the sounds of water lapping upon the shore. For a moment, I am uncertain of where I am, but then I look down and see Michael’s arm draped over my shoulder. I then smile as the events of the night before come flooding back to me. I can remember every moment and I know that I will never forget it.
Not wanting to wake Michael, I slowly roll out from under his arm and gently place it back on the sand. In the distance, I can see the sun about to rise, giving a dim glow to the ocean below. I leave Michael and walk over to get a closer look. The view is magnificent and for a moment I get lost in the scene.
I then feel someone kiss the back of my head
“Morning,” Michael whispers into my ear.
I grin feeling his arms wrap around my waist. “Morning.” I then give his hand a squeeze and point out at the pinkish orange glow ahead of us. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
“Very. I have never seen a sunrise up so close.”
“I know. You don’t get to see them like this back in the city.”
We then watch the sunrise in silence until it has finally reached a high point in the sky. All the while, I revel in the warm feeling I get from Michael’s arms around me. I could stay like this forever. It’s amazing how after our night yesterday, I feel even closer to him.
“We should probably get dressed,” I then say, moving in the direction of our abandoned clothes pile, but then Michael pulls me back to him.
“Lizzie, wait.” He then looks at me with a strange expression, one that looks a little uncertain. “About last night…” he clears his throat. “I hope you are okay with…well…” He then sighs, seeming to be struggling for what to say.
I can’t help, but smile. “Michael,” I say, wrapping my arms around his shoulders, “last night was, amazing.”
Michael seems a bit eased after I say that. “I just remember the last time we got that close, you were pretty anxious.”
“I know.” I play with a strand of the hair on the back of his neck. “I wasn’t ready back then; but I was last night, and it’s a night I won’t forget.”
I then lean forward and press my lips against Michael’s and soon we are kissing passionately in the warm summer air. My body is so at ease in his arms and I feel safe as I always do with him.
“You know, I didn’t get to thank you for yesterday,” I say, once we pause to catch our breaths.
Michael frowns. “What do you mean?”
“You listening to me. I know I sounded like a complete wreck.”
Michael tucks a strand of my hair behind my ear. “No, you were just dealing with a lot. I’m just glad you finally talked to me.” He then grins. “It only took flying miles out to come see you.”
I exhale deeply. “I am so sorry for shutting you out like that, and for that Friday night. You’ve been so amazing and good to me and you didn’t deserve that.”
Michael shakes his head with a little smile. “It’s okay, Lizzie,” he starts, but I stop him.
“No, it isn’t. I was so confused and out of it that I made you think I wasn’t sure about us being together. Maybe I might have thought that for a little while, but really, it’s far from the truth. I love you Michael, and I know in my heart that regardless of what happens in our lives, that will never change.”
I then kiss him once again and we spend the next few minutes kissing in the morning sun. Things may still be a complete mess with us all stranded on this island with no contact to the outside world, but knowing I have Michael at my side, makes it just a bit better.
A while later, we walk back to our camp in the forest clearing, hand in hand. I am sure by now, everyone is wondering where Michael and I are. I’m actually surprised that they haven’t already come looking for us.
Which is fine with me, for Michael and I stop frequently to kiss as we make our way through the woods. After last night, I just feel giddy and liberated. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted off my back.
It is then as we are passing the center of the forest, that I suddenly see Janice, Abby and Charls huddled in conversation. They all turn when they see Michael and I coming.
“Lizzie!” Abby cries, and she limps over to me and then pulls me into a hug. “I’m so glad you’re okay! We’ve been so worried about you! Michael too!”
Janice nods. “Yah, when Michael didn’t come back after going to look for you, we thought something bad had happened. We decided to wait it out for a while, but when you didn’t return by morning, we figured we should go and search for you guys. I’m glad to see you two are okay.”
We all then walk back to our camp together. All the while, I can see Janice side-glancing at me as we pass through the forest. I feel my stomach clench. The words that she had said to me earlier yesterday, are still in my memory. That said, I am not worried about it anymore. After last night with Michael, I believe that issue has been resolved. I only wish I can tell Janice that.
When we arrive back at camp, I get my chance. As Charls and Michael prepare to head back to the boat, Janice pulls me aside.
“Lizzie, we should talk,” she says, but I wave my hand.
“It’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”
“But I have to. It was totally out of line for me to say what I said to you, not to mention leave you in the woods like that.” Janice shakes her head. “I guess I was kind of projecting my own problems with Greg onto you and Michael and…” She sighs. “I’m really, really sorry. I would have never forgiven myself if something had happened to you because of that.”
“It’s okay, really. I know you’ve been going through a hard time with the whole Greg thing. Besides, you were right. I was pushing Michael way, but that’s all changed now.”
“I can see that,” Janice says, with a little sly grin. “Michael couldn’t take his eyes off you the whole entire walk back to camp. Did something happen between you two?”
I feel my cheeks start to heat up and Janice’s jaw drops.
“Lizzie, wow,” she exclaims. “I do have to ask, though, wouldn’t it be a bit uncomfortable on the beach? I mean, I would just think that the sand would get everywhere and-”
“I was just asking!”
I giggle nervously and move back toward the camp. No way was I embellishing any more details to her. What happened between Michael and me is private, and it is going to stay that way. Then again, if Abby gets word of it, I may not have as much of a choice. She had at some point revealed details about her and Charls to me (more than I wanted to know), and would probably take it as an insult if I didn’t do the same. Though to be honest, with Michael and I it was a bit complicated, and at the moment, I really am not interested in sharing with anyone. I really would rather it stay between us.
Michael and Charls then head over to the boat and the rest of us remain at camp. Janice and I do make a trip into the forest to harvest some more fruit and vegetables from the garden stash, but we are not gone for long.
By the time evening rolls around we are all bored out of our minds. If we are going to be stuck on this island for much longer, we need to figure out other things to do to occupy our time. Otherwise, we are all going to go crazy.
“So, we finished fixing the boat,” Charls says, as we eat dinner later that night. “The clips Janice found in duffel bag, worked nicely to hold the boat together. That is, after we shaped them into nails.”
“That’s wonderful!” says, Abby. “So, what does that mean?”
“It means, that we can use it to get off the island. There is however, a problem.”
I raise my eyebrows. “Being?”
Charls looks uneasy. “The boat can only carry two or three people.”
Abby frowns. “What?”
“It explains what made the boat break in the first place. Judging by the wrecked areas of it, along with the items we found, I think we can guess that there were probably a group of five or six people stranded here. I think they all tried to escape at once and the boat couldn’t hold all the weight. Then along with the ocean being rough around the area, it just gave out.”
I play with a piece of fish on my rock plate. “So, you’re saying that only two or three of us will be able to go and the rest will have to stay behind?”
Charls nods. “Yes, but even with the work Michael and I did, it will still be a big risk. With the boat already having been broken once, it could break again.”
He then glances over at Michael. “Michael and I think we should be the ones to use it to try to get back to the mainland. We can get help and come back for all of you.”
Abby chokes on her fish. “What? Are you crazy? You just said that using the boat is a risk!”
“I know, but it’s our only chance of getting help.”
“But I don’t want to risk losing you! I’d rather stay here.”
I lower my gaze at Michael. “I agree.”
“But we can’t just stay here, Liz,” Michael says, returning my strict gaze. “We have to at least give it a try-”
“I’ll do it.”
We all then get quiet and look in Janice’s direction.
“What?” I ask.
“I said, I’ll do it.” Janice looks up. “If I go alone, it is just one person, so I will have a better chance of making it. I also know how to navigate and use a boat like that, so I should have a better time finding my way. Us being here is my fault, anyways.”
“Janice, don’t say that!” I look at her in shock. “We aren’t going to let you just go off all alone and-”
“I don’t have anything to lose, if anything happens to me. You guys can stay here and keep living. It’s better than Michael and Charls going off and leaving us three girls stranded. Don’t lie, you know it makes the most sense.”
I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Was Janice sacrificing herself?
I then hold up my hand. “Look, let’s not make any rash decisions. The boat is done which is great, but we should probably test it out before deciding who is going to use it.”
“Lizzie’s right,” Abby chimes in. “We don’t have to make any decisions tonight. Let’s just focus on the fact that we are all alive and together. Can we all agree on that?”
We all look at each other silently, and then nod in unison. Still, I can see a look of defiance in Janice’s eyes. She is already planning something.
Still, the mood does become a bit more cheerful after that. Charls leaves to go use the bathroom in the woods and Abby gives us the idea for eating some of the fruit as dessert. We then sit back at the fire and eat while chatting and watching the sky darken overhead. To me it is a much better end to the night instead of thinking about what troubles we would face in the morning.
In the background of the night, I can swear I hear the faint sound of a motor, but I dismiss it as my imagination. That is until Charls comes back from the woods and then freezes in his tracks.
“Hey guys, is that what I think it is?” he asks, and then we all look around.
I lean over in surprise when I see the display in front of us. Janice’s grandfather’s boat is sailing by the shore, slowly approaching us.
It slowly comes to a stop and I can’t help but feel like I am dreaming. This can’t be real. Are we really saved?
But alas we are. A minute later, I see Elsie jump off the boat ramp and onto the shore. Janice’s eyes about pop out of their sockets and she leaps from her chair and then races over to her.
“Janice! Oh my gosh!” Elsie says, wrapping her arms tightly around her. She repeats it over and over, her voice sounding like she will burst into tears any moment. “I thought we had lost you!” She continues. “When they found the boat drifting in the Marina Beach port and you guys weren’t in it, we thought…” She drifts off trying to hold herself together. “My gosh! I’m so glad you’re okay!”
Janice looks on the verge of tears herself. “I wasn’t sure if I would ever see you or Sandra again,” she says, and hugs her tighter. “How did you find us?”
“By luck! There have been search parties looking for you guys, but they gave up after a few days. They figured if the boat was back, and you guys weren’t on it, then there was no hope.” Elsie sniffles. “Sandra didn’t want to give up though. She just had this gut feeling that you were still out there. So we took granddad’s boat out and kept looking. We’ve been out on the water for almost two days. Sandra just happened to try going to the east and that’s when we saw this island.”
Wow. That was luck. We have definitely been touched by an angel.
Sandra then emerges off the boat and runs over to Janice to hug her as well. “I knew you were still out there,” she says. “I just knew it.”
“Thank you for not giving up,” says, Janice giving her a squeeze.
Sandra seems to hug her tighter. “You’re my sister. I will never give up on you.”
As they embrace, I help Abby put out the firepit and gather the rest of the harvested fruits and vegetables. If we leave them, they are definitely going to spoil.
Before heading off, we all decide to leave the rest of the stuff on the island. After all, maybe they will come in handy if this ever happens to someone else.
Before Michael and I board the boat, I pull him aside for a moment.
“Even though it was terrifying to be trapped here, I’m really glad you were with me, Michael.”
Michael lifts my hand and kisses it gently. “I’m glad I was too.”
“It feels weird to be leaving now. Especially after we…you know…”
Michael grins. “I know, but we’ll always remember it and we’ll make more memories elsewhere.”
He then pulls me closer to him and we kiss under the dim light of the crescent moon.