Rated: E · Short Story · Romance/Love · #1888915
“He lives on a remote island in the middle of nowhere?” they’d laugh. “And he does what?”
Mary pressed her forehead against the plane’s window and felt the vibration of the huge engines against her face. In the distance she could see the Galapagos Islands, and Daphne Island, the place where Peter lived and worked. Tourists were not allowed on the island, it was reserved for research. Mary was surprised when she received Peter’s letter with the invitation.
Mary’s friends laughed when she talked about Peter. “He lives on a remote island in the middle of nowhere?” they’d laugh. “And he does what?”
“He studies birds and the way they live.” She knew that her friends had no idea what Peter actually did—or how special Peter was.
As she walked off the plane the flight attendant said, “Welcome to the equator.” Mary smiled and felt her shoulders sag under the heat.
During the boat trip to Daphne Island, Mary couldn’t stop taking pictures of the giant tortoises and sea lions that swam alongside the boat as it sliced through the warm water.
He stood on the rickety, wooden dock, his hand perched over his eyes to shade them from the blazing sun. His long legs protruded from tan shorts, his white shirt did little to hide his thick chest, or his firm biceps. He smiled and waved when he saw Mary at the front of the boat.
“Mary,” he called out. “Over here.” She looked into the bright sunlight and waved when she saw him.
Peter wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tightly to him. She liked the way he felt, and she was reminded of how much she had missed his scent. He smelled like no other man she had ever met; a mixture of musk and the salty sea. He released her and held her at arm’s length. “Let me look at you.” His smile grew wider. “You are beautiful,” he pulled her tight again.
She looked up into his blue eyes and kissed him deeply, then pressed her cheek against his chest, listened to his heartbeat. “I’m so glad to be here,” she said. “How did you arrange for my pass…” Her eyes scanned the barren island. “Where will I be staying?”
“I pulled a few strings, it wasn’t hard.” He took her hand. “There’s a small deserted shack on a cliff that overlooks the ocean. You’ll like it there.”
Early that afternoon Mary stood under the sagging porch roof of the shack Peter had told her about. The view out over the ocean was endless, and beautiful. The blue waters of the ocean stretched past her feet to someplace she couldn’t see. It made her think of far-away places she had only read about in books.
She felt Peter behind her, his arms encircling her, his lips on her shoulder.
“Your skin is warm,” he mumbled against her neck. “Let’s get you out of the sun.”
“Yes,” she said. “Let’s do that.” She turned within his arms and kissed him.
They walked hand in hand down to the beach and she saw the kayaks tied to a half-submerged fat rock. He helped her into hers, holding the boat steady until she was seated comfortably inside the Fiberglas hull. He gave her kayak a gentle shove, sending it out into the crystal clear waters.
At first she was afraid she would fall out of the unstable boat, or get pulled out to sea on an invisible current. But before she had floated very far she felt Peter’s boat gently nudge hers. She turned and gave him a nervous smile.
“Nothing to worry about, Mary.” He smiled, then explained how to paddle the kayak. It didn’t take long for her to feel the boat under her, turning gently each time she pushed the paddle against the clear water.
They had paddled across the water, just off the coast of a small island covered in fir trees. White, squawking birds flew overhead. She heard a splash and turned. Peter’s Kayak was upside down in the water. Peter had disappeared into the warm water beneath the capsized boat. She waited for him to surface, and after a long moment of holding her breath, she became scared. She paddled closer to his boat and felt foolish calling out his name. Of course he won’t hear me, he’s under water, she told herself. She looked back at Daphne Island hoping to signal someone that she needed help. But before he eyes had scanned very far she heard a splash and she turned to see Peter, his hands wrapped around the green hull of her kayak.
“Are you alright?”
“I think so.” He smiled.
“I saw something sparkle deep down in the water,” he said as his smile began to widen. “I had to go down and see what it was.”
“Something sparkled? You mean you jumped in on purpose?” She slapped the warm water with her paddle, a spray of water cascaded over Peter’s face. “Do you have any idea how worried I was?”
“It’s okay, Mary, honestly, it is.” He swam to the center of her boat, his strong arms slicing through the clear water. He looked up at her with eyes as bright as the sun. “It’s not too deep here, I was able to find it, look.” He held his hand out to her. “What do you think?”
She looked at the sparkle he held between his fingers. “Is that…is that?” She shuddered. “What is that?”
“Your engagement ring,” he smiled. “That is, if you’ll have me.”
“All this wasn’t really necessary, you know. Getting down on one knee would have worked fine.”
Peter’s face tightened with worry. “I love you Mary. Will you marry me?”
“Yes, Peter. Even though you have a strange way of asking, I’ll marry you.”
They paddled back to Daphne Island, their oars making small eddies in the water as they slowly disappeared into the setting sun.
Word Count: 985