Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BLUE (11/09/17)
By JC Hummel
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I had built the bonfire long ago by gathering branches and tinder from the forest on the west side of the island, but the ships had always sailed by before it was adequately lit. Survival was always on my mind and for the first few months I was adamant that I would be found, but as ships passed in the distance unaware of my presence, my hope faded.
The storm started in the dead of night, flipping the ship like a piece of driftwood. I am still haunted by it and sometimes wake in the middle of the night screaming at the top of my lungs. Our ship was taking us home from Africa when the storm came out of nowhere. I had never before seen waves the size of the ones that hit us that day. The assault went on for hours, battering our ship to pieces. I woke up on the shores of this island alone and terrified surrounded by shards of wood strewn about the sand. I hollered for the others while scanning the water and beach for survivors, but only found the body of a cabin boy. I buried him the following day.
Pieces of the ship's equipment washed ashore, which meant I could fashion a crude shelter. After a few months I named the island Vitae, latin for life. It seemed appropriate. Thankfully, there are no dangerous animals here, but there is fresh water, plenty of fish, wild fruits, vegetables and even some feral sheep. At times it can get heavy rains and winds, but for the most part the weather has been good and it never gets terribly cold.
My life here is very simple and sometimes I have spent too much time thinking about what I’ve lost and what might have been. The loneliness has been the worst part. I miss my family and friends very much, and sometimes I dream of eating a home cooked meal, or dancing with Annabelle.
The ship out at sea is now growing larger, closer. “They see me! Thank you Jesus,” I say falling to my knees weeping. I watch eagerly as they set down a row boat and come in my direction, but now my elation turns to fear. Will these sailors understand me when I speak? Will my family recognize me when I return home? Are my parents dead? Did my fiancee forget about me and go on with her life? So many questions swirl around my head.
Then I become aware of my tattered clothing and feel embarrassed by my appearance. I am a skinny, sunburnt man with a dirty beard. Some of my teeth are missing. My hair is long and disheveled.
Two men get out of the rowboat and look at me curiously. “Hello,” one of them says as he waves to me. It is so wonderful to hear another human voice. I want to run over and hug them but I dare not.
“I am Captain Nelson. Do you speak English?”
I start to cry again and through sobs, thank them for stopping and coming to my aid. “My name is John Anderson and I have been on this island for a very long time, perhaps three years. I was on a ship called the Santa Louisa.”
“That ship went down five years ago,” he exclaims.
“It has been that long?” I say slowly, feeling bemused that it has been so much longer than I expected.
“Are you all alone here?"
“Yes, everyone else perished.”
He grabs my arm. “You poor man. Come, we are taking you home,” and they load me in the rowboat.
As we sail away from shore, I look back at the island. “Good bye Vitae,” I say under my breath. The feeling is bittersweet and I thank the Lord for sending these men to rescue me, but I am unsure about going back home and what kind of life is there for me now.
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