he was to the point when he usually turned his eyes away for good so he gave one last wave to her, broke his stare, and looked forward as she waved goodbye. he touched his mothers necklace lying beneath his shirt and pushed the throttle of his fathers old motor boat. he sped back to the mainland, away from his island girl.
love kept her on that island. she would do it all for him. he never told her to stay, he didnt have to. her friends and family visited her there, they pleaded with her to leave but she wouldnt. her love for him was stronger than their pleas, stronger than her love for anything else. he knew it. her friends and family loathed him and he pretended not to know why. they hissed accusations at him in town. they challenged him. his confidence and sly smile strengthened their anger.
i dont keep her there, those smiles said. she stays there. she stays there and waits for me. my visits and my poems are all she needs. he always lied to himself despite being a smarter man than that.
she kept her place beautiful. the wildflowers bloomed with no weeds around them. her bungalow was decorated with palm leaves and shiny rocks from the ocean. she passed her time doing cartwheels, entertaining her occasional guests, and dreaming of the future. she read the poetry he wrote and often framed her favorites with bamboo and hung them on the wall. she thought a lot about him, about the next time hed come to the island. she stayed there because thats where he wanted her to be. she would be wherever he wanted her. she never thought of leaving.
but the seasons on the island changed one afternoon as she sat reading about his love for her. a poem on beautiful paper. the words were stirring, elegant. they spoke of undying passion and romantic meetings, knights slaying dragons and rescuing fair maidens...but they were just words. love was more than words she thought. she needed more. she left his love on the table and went for a swim.
at that time, a man from another isolated island was rowing his boat near her island. the man saw the beautiful woman swimming in the blue waters and said hello and asked if shed like a break. they talked until the sun fell into the sea. they met again the next day and the next.
one night, the man rowed away from his island toward hers with his heart full of love, and his mind full of dreams. they left her island together, forever.
he approached the island in his fathers boat but something was wrong - she was not calf-deep in the surf, hastening his arrival. she was not on the beach, was not anywhere he could see. he stopped the motor and drifted as the stern sunk lower under his weight. he turned for a different angle but the view was the same: the island was empty. he yanked the cord to start the motor again and did a swift lap around the island, but it was small with no place to hide, so he knew it was futile. disbelief made him do it. he stopped the motor again and drifted. he looked around for a departing boat but there was none. he went ashore to look for footprints, evidence of her leaving, but the waves had smoothed the sand. he got back in the boat and tried the motor but the engine would not start - he had no strength to pull the cord. he felt an uncomfortable, sick weight gather on him and he slumped over in the boat. he drifted and then his fathers boat sank.
his will had almost left him, but he began the 10 mile swim to shore. he wouldnt go to the island, there was nothing there for him anymore. there was nothing for him on the mainland either but he swam toward it anyway. several times he stopped, exhausted by his emotions. he thought of sinking himself, ending it, but he kept on. his friends spotted him from the dock and swam to him. he had only made it halfway but his friends would even have gone the whole way had they seen him earlier. they carried him on their backs, and, together, they swam in.
shes gone, were his only words as they pulled him onto the beach.
three days later, he returned to the island in a friends boat, his anger displayed violently on his smiling, hateful face. he touched his mothers necklace as he shouted at the island when it was close enough to hear, the words of a maniac. he circled furiously around it, spraying it with kerosene from a hose. when the tree, plants, grass, and her bungalow were soaked, he threw a flame to it. the whole of it went up, lighting the night sky. he steered the boat quickly, wickedly around and around the burning island, his face shining orange from the glow of the flames. the black water spit from the motor as he continued around, laughing, screaming with delight. he felt the heat on his skin and watched the last flames flicker out quietly as he rode away. he turned his head forward, pushed the throttle, and touched his mothers necklace beneath his shirt.
the next day, in another borrowed boat, he returned to the black spot in the ocean. he approached slowly, and the weight of sadness sagged his older, sorrowful face. he gently ran the boat up onto the beach. he got out and sat in the middle of the blackened earth. he pulled his knees up into his chest and began to cry. he cried deep tears for hours, for days, for months, a year. it took a year. when the tears finally stopped, he opened his eyes and looked around him. he saw green grass, sapling palms, blue flowers, and fine white sand. his tears restored the island, gave birth to a new, different life. not the old trees, not the old grass, but new greens, new flowers colored this little island now. he touched the necklace hanging under his shirt, the one his mother had given to him on the day she died, the one that sustained him, gave him reason to live. he gently grasped the chain in both hands, lifted it off his neck, and raised it up over his head. he thoughtfully gazed at the gift again through his red, swollen eyes, the tears bubbling up again now. he smiled a sad, soft smile, kissed the necklace and buried it in the white sand. he got on his shaky feet, climbed into his boat, and rode home, leaving buried there that which was once most dear to him. leaving a dead pain. leaving his island girl.
July 2004 - Kolding, Denmark