John was a thin man, his leathery skin bronzed by the sun. He trudged through dense tropical foliage with a walking stick in one hand and a skewered fish in the other. When he came to a clearing his eyes lit up.
Holding his offering high he beamed with pride, “Well, here it is. Fresh fish roasted over a fire, just like I said. You didn’t believe I could do it . . . especially you, Uncle Larry. I can’t wait for you to taste it.”
Stepping forward, the grin never left his face.
“I’ll just set it down here with all this delicious food. Wow, what a feast.” His eyes darted up and left. “Aunt Jeanine, you brought lasagna. You know I love your lasagna.”
He placed his hands on his hips and let out a sigh. “It’s so good to see you guys, you have no idea. Hey, Kevin . . . high-five! . . . Is your mom here? . . . There you are, Aunt Mary. Give me a hug . . . What’s that? I know, my hair is long now, huh? And, yeah, I grew a beard. You don’t like it, do you?”
John moved and shifted about with hellos, hugs and high-fives.
“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m starving. Shall we say grace? I’ll do the honors.”
John bowed his head. “Heavenly Father, I thank you for bringing me together with family. Thank you for this amazing array of food. Bless our food and bless our time together. In Your name, amen.”
Lifting his head, he sat down and glanced right. “Uncle Larry, you gotta try my fish. I’ll just put some on your plate. Can you hand me the enchiladas? And the swedish meatballs?”
He shook his head with delight. “I just love how we get to eat from around the world all on one plate.”
* * *
John drew in a deep breath, let it out and placed his hands over his stomach. “Well, I can’t eat another bite. How about you guys?”
With walking stick in hand, he stood and looked around. “I’m sorry, but I gotta get back to work, guys.”
His eyebrows raised, “What’s that, Uncle Larry? . . . You’d like to see what I’m working on? . . . Well, sure. I’d be happy to show you. Come on this way.”
John walked through the forested area along a thinly warn path. “I only have about an hour of light left. Gotta make the most of it.”
Stepping past the last of the trees and vegetation, his bare toes squished into the sand. “You might wanna remove your shoes, Uncle Larry. Those are nice shoes.”
Waves crashed and rolled foam up onto the sand. The breeze blew strands of unkempt hair into John’s face. He peered out over the vast ocean and into the sky. “I love this time of day. The colors are so beautiful, aren’t they?”
He dropped his walking stick in the sand. “Well, here it is, Uncle Larry. This is what I’ve been working on. This is my second one, actually. Last one didn’t work out so well. It started to break apart before I even got past the surf. But I figured out how to make this one stronger.”
Jumping up onto the thick tree branches that he’d tied together he bounced up and down. “You see that? This is a sturdy raft. It’ll get me passed the surf and far out into the ocean.”
He leaned forward a bit and tilted his head, as if straining to hear. “What’s that? What do I do after that? . . . Well, I don’t know. I guess I just have to pray that I either float to civilization or a ship comes along and sees me.”
John turned his head and glanced back at the island.
“I can’t just wait here to die.”
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