Creating a character dealing with being shipwrecked. Day 6 of the 7 Yard Stretch
|The sun beat down baking my cheek. I dragged my arm up and let my fingers shade my eyes. The effort left me ragged. With my eyes still shut, I tried to take in my senses and get my barrings. My face felt raw, blistered and baked. Grains of sand impaled one side of my face, while salt caked the crevasses. Water lapped up over my body, rocking me gently, but I remembered the dark and the rain. The ocean and its torrent of waves and punishing water. Now a gentle nudge woke me and pressed me into land.
"Land." I shifted me head and opened my eyes to take in a welcome sight. I squinted at the vast sand dunes that stretched out to the band of palm trees that rose up and swayed their greeting. I was on land.
Pulling myself out of the water woke up my body and my muscles screamed with each small movement. My hands cupped my brow giving some shade, making it easier to take in my surroundings. Not far off a limp body gently rolled up along the beach, caught on the edge of the sand. I shifted to crawl over and see who it was and I hoped they were alive. As I made my way over, I was seized by the fear that the person was not alive... then I would be alone.
Thoughts held me suspended a moment "Alone on a desert island. How the hell would I survive... alone."
Those thoughts spurned me to crawl faster despite the raw pain my body emitted with each movement. Reaching out I cupped my hand over their shoulder and felt them jerk to life. Exploding into a roll that sent them on their back staring up at me with wide eyes full of unbridled fear.
"It's okay." my voice said thickly, "we're okay." I reassured him.
"Where the hell are we?" he croaked out at me.
Looking up and around us, I could only shake my head, "I have no idea...."
The guy pulled himself up to sitting, then hung his head. His hands reached up to cradle it. He began to rock.
Looking towards the palms, I added, "we'll have to make shelter... find water, fresh water."
"Why? What's the point?" The man muttered still rocking.
Fear gripped me as I heard the despair in his voice, but I dragged in a breath and felt its shakiness tremble out of me. I decided the best course of action was to remain calm. After another deep breath I managed to find a settled place. "We must find a way to make the best of this..."
"The best of this... what the fuck.... we are so screwed...." His voice sent a chill down my spine. With each word he was becoming more and more hysterical. I refused to let him pull me under. Doing the only thing I could think of, I slapped him hard, then waited in the quiet that followed to see if he would do me any physical damage.
He flopped back on the sand and clamped his eyes shut. "Shit, shit, shit."
I lay back myself, letting the relief flood me. After a few moments within a calmer place, I said, "I'm Derek."
"Nice to meet you, Lonny." I said, then smiled when he started to chuckle.
After a few moments, I found my calmest voice and said, "we'll need shelter..."
"And fresh water..."
"Guess we better get started...."
We sat up together and exchanged a weak smile.
I stood and surveyed all that was around us. When Lonny struggled to stand, I offered my hand and pulled him up. He still looked drawn, salt staining is day growth of beard. I expected I looked the same and pressed my hands into my cheeks to rub at the white flecks.
“What do you figure first?” he asked staring up at the palms.
Both were important, but I was not thrilled with separating to break up the work. We still didn’t know what all was around. “I’d say we explore a bit... look for a water source...together.”
Lonny nodded. Moving forward he pointed to where the island rose a bit. “We could head in to that area.”
I pressed my lips together in thought. “What if we check the beach for possible run off over closer to that area. I am not overly thrilled about heading in to that... bush.”
Again, Lonny nodded and together we moved slowly around the curve of the island. I noted the boulder not far from where we washed up, just in case we got lost and needed a barring. It seemed the only thing that stood out.
Looking up at the palms again, Lonny grumbled “I expect coconut will be all we get to eat...”
Following his gaze I nodded and wondered how the hell we would manage to get them down.
Lonny stopped and searched around a bit until he located a big rock. He hurled it at the chump of coconuts and they shook, but did not loosen their grip. Walking a bit farther he found a long stick, but it could barely reach the clump.
“May have to climb... you any good at climbing?"
I shrugged and gave my head a small shake. “I suppose I could try.” We needed food. I was willing to try anything. I moved for the tree and put my hands on its roughened bark. Looking up I gazed at the clump of coconuts. I pushed at the tree, but it was a sturdy as a cement wall – no budge.
I looked over at Lonny but he was making his way around us looking for a longer stick or more rocks. I decided I would have a try at it and lifted my arms to grab the trunk. Jumping I landed with my feet wrapping the base, then slowing I moved my hands up and jumped again. The process was slow and my body was not overly thrilled with the exertion, but I kept at it.
Lonny looked up when I was about half way up and gave an appreciative whistle. “That is impressive man. You sure you never done this before?"
I blew out a breathy ‘no’ then jumped again.
When I made it to the top, that challenge of how to get them down, resurfaced. Climbing was one thing, getting them to release and still hold on was another. I was already feeling the exertion of my climb so I waited and caught my breath, taking the opportunity to make out the view. Nothing but ocean as far as the eye could see. No boats, nothing. Behind me the jungle rose up and blocked the sun’s intensity.
I called down my findings, or lack thereof, to Lonny who groaned in dissatisfaction.
Finding a pocket of energy I resumed my task and managed to crank off several decent sized coconuts before feeling overwhelmed again.
“I am coming down.” I called to Lonny who was gathering our loot.
I was careful to reverse my process of climbing up. I did not want any of the palm’s bark to press into my flesh or leave me wounded in any way.
Back on sandy ground I flopped down to wait for some semblance of strength to return. Lonny worked at finding his way into our catch.
He had located a few good rocks for bashing at the coconut's shells and had managed to find an old hollowed out form to catch the precious liquid. As he hammered his way in, I could feel my stomach rise and weave wanting something to calm the ache that gripped the tender lining.
He found success and passed the liquid over to me which I sipped at. I wanted to throw it back and guzzle my thirst, but very little sat in the vessel and sharing was important. We had done this monumental task together and we needed to keep it that way if we were to survive. I took my share and passed it back when he handed me my coconut’s flesh. I gnawed on it and felt my stomach wheeze in gratitude. Was everything going to be this hard?
After our feast Lonny leaned back against the tree and echoed my thoughts back to me. The food made him sound less helpless, but the undercurrent rippled along my spine. We truly were alone out here... as far as we knew.
It wasn’t long before we found our feet and made our way along the beach looking for a possible stream or any source of fresh water. Talking fell away as well concentrated our energies on moving and searching. Our efforts were rewarded when we found such a trickle and dove headlong into it.
Laying prone we dipped our chins down and drank, no longer caring if it was fresh or clean. With our fill, we rolled off and lay there feeling mildly better. Water would so help and we had found our source.
Lonny suggested we stake a claim right there by the little stream, but I shook my head. He stared at me incredulous.
“I think it is best if we move off a bit. Who knows what wildlife comes to this. We don’t want to be dinner, nor do we want to scare off potential meal sources for ourselves.”
Lonny grunted, nodded at my logic, then asked, “How far off?"
Feeling better with the water invigorating me, I paced off down the beach and found an area to my liking. Lonny joined me and agreed it had possibilities. We then set to work collecting palms and weaving them into some kind of shelter. The sky was lengthening and darkness was threatening to end the day. Where ever we were, it was no doubt night would come quickly and press us back into blackness. I kept my mind steady and hoped Lonny would do the same. In fact, I got him talking. Telling me about himself until the heaviness of the day stole our sight and our energy and left us swamped in exhausted sleep, crumpled under a paltry pile of palm fronds.
* * * * *
Morning found us stretched out half in and half out of the shelter. We’d have to work on it some more to make it better. Rain had fallen in the night and some of our coconut hulls had captured the precious liquid. I drank one down, then went to stand in the surf looking out into the endless waves. The sky peeled back the dark, chasing it away with the new light that painted the sky a heavenly blue with pink accents. It looked glorious, but I had learned beauty often had a way of covering the darker shadows. I took it in with caution.
We would need to find a way to signal help.
I noticed fish flitting in and around the waves by our little inlet where the island dipped in and our tickle of water made its way into the ocean. I figured hunting spears would be another necessary creation. I doubted Lonny or I could stand a diet of nothing but coconuts and I certainly was not overly warmed by the idea of daily struggles to climb each palm to knock down our meals.
I had managed to find some sturdy bamboo sticks as long as I was tall and dragged them back to our camp. I found Lonny sitting up sipping from one of the filled vessels. His eyes darted out and about looking wary and uncertain.
“Hey,” I called and watched his face ease of some of his tension. He gave me a weak smile and motioned to the poles.
I told him of my plan and he nodded. Standing, he searched his pockets finding a Swiss Army knife.
“Dad gave this to me just before we set sail.” He stared at the red and silver packet of knives and other handy gadgetry. “I guess it will come in handy after all... I thought it was a bogus gift when he gave it...”
“Dad’s know best... I suppose.”
Lonny grunted turning the packet of gadgetry over in his palm.
I settled beside him and he handed me the knife. I located the one that would do that best job and set to work crafting a sharp point.
“I think we should explore a bit more today?” I told him. “We have no idea how big the island is and if it is even inhabited.”
“You mean to tell me we could have been basking in babes on the other side of the island.’ He sounded outraged, but shook it off knowing full well it was only a barren hope.
I chuckled, but secretly hoped he was right.
When I completed my pole I headed into the water, leaving Lonny to work on the other pole and find a way to make a fire, even if it meant rubbing two sticks together. A meal would be a fine way to start our day before exploring and the smoke from our fire would alert others to our struggles.
We had just settled in to our bit of fish when we heard giggling.
Lonny was the first to drop his fish and run towards the sound. I shook my head, thinking I was dreaming, but the light, carefree laughter carried on the breeze again teasing me with its innocence.
“Ladies!” I heard Lonny say, “Please tell me you are not an oasis or some such thing?”
The girls giggled again.
I moved up beside him and took in the two bikini clad young women stretched out on the sand before us.
“It can’t be a mirage if we are both seeing it, can it?” Lonny asked not moving his eyes off the ladies. I shook my head unable to say more.
“You boys look like you washed up....”
“We did.” Lonny admitted moving a little closer.
“We’re you in that storm the other night?” The other girl asked looking us over with concern.
“Damn straight. Thought we were all alone... deserted island and all.”
The girls laughed. “Not deserted, but our family headed in for safer shores when the reports came in. Daddy wasn’t sure how rough it was going to get. We just got back this morning....”
“You live here?’ I asked, marvelling at our good fortune.
“In the summer.” The other girl said.
Lonny had moved in and sat down on the edge of their blanket. The girls smiled at him and one offered him a bottle of water which he gratefully took and swilled back without apology.
The other girl brought a bottle of water to me, handing it over, she said, “I’m Bridget and that’s my sister, Diana.”
I told her who we were and followed her back to her blanket.
“Daddy will want to know all about your adventure.” Bridget told me as she sat back down and dug some fresh fruit out of their cooler.
I gladly accepted it and ate greedily. Lonny did as well.
I had never been more happy to eat an apple in all of my life.
Word Count = 2529.
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Day 6 -What a Character!
Your protagonist is one of the two survivors of a shipwreck. On an island in the middle of nowhere, what happens with him/her?