The Runaway Castaway

short story


5. Decisions

    We then toured the treehouses, which I didn’t find particularly interesting, because they all looked pretty much alike.  All except for my Grandpa’s treehouse.  His was special.  He had something there that meant a lot to him.  I was glad that I was that something.

    After the tour, we went down the rope ladder to the meet the other castaways around the campfire.  One of them passed out chicken, and I tore away at it ravenously.  For a few minutes it was just silent, as everyone devoured their chicken.  When all of the castaways were done, they all stared at me.  Grandpa broke the silence by introducing me.

    “Like I said earlier, this is my grandson Harper, and he washed up just today.  He will be accompanying us when we leave tomorrow.”

    A whole string of comments poured out of the other castaways lips.  “There’s not enough room! We haven’t stored enough food for an extra mouth!  Why’d you spring this on us? Don’t we have enough to deal with already?” were only some of the complains about it.

    Grandpa answered nonchalantly, “Don’t worry.  You’ll have plenty of food and room.”

    “Why is that?” the castaways inquired.

    “Because, I’m not going.” Grandpa said in a resigned tone.

    “What?” I wasn’t sure I’d heard correctly.  Grandpa, to stay here, and give up his spot on the outrigger, just for me?  Just after we’d been reunited, he was going to tear us apart, again?

    “I’m not going on the outrigger with you all.  I’m going to stay here, and let Harper take my spot.”

    “Grandpa, you have to be kidding.  I won’t leave this island without you.”

    “Harper, you have to get home.  Your parents must be worried sick.  I’ll stay here until more castaways wash up.  I’ll build an outrigger with them, and I will be home before you graduate high school.”

    “Grandpa, I can’t wait that long.  I am not going without you.  I love you so much, and something could happen to you here.  Please, Grandpa, come with us, or let me stay.  I don’t want to lose you again.”

    “I’m sorry Harper, but you’re going on that outrigger tomorrow, without me.”

    Tears started streaming down my face as I ran up the rope ladder and huddled in the corner of the treehouse.  Soon after, Grandpa came up too, and fell asleep on his bamboo bed, barely acknowledging me.  He probably assumed some people just need to cry, just to get the hurt out of their system.  I am not one of these people.  I had to do something.

When I was positive Grandpa and all the other castaways had gone to sleep, I crept out of the treehouse.  I slinked down the rope ladder, barely making a sound.  Once my feet hit the soft earth, I tiptoed out of the campsite.  I found my way back to the beach.  There, the outrigger sat, peeking out of the trees.  I headed over to it.  When I reached the outrigger, I felt around inside it, knowing that someone would have packed what I wanted.  My hand finally clasped the item I wanted.  As I took it out, its surface glinted in the moonlight.  I couldn’t leave Grandpa on the island so I could go home and he could come later.  How could I be sure that he’d come home?  At least I know, this way, I will see him, in heaven.  The first cut felt relaxing, like I was releasing all my worries.  The second cut was even better, and the blood spurted out like a waterfall, warm blood cascading over my wrists.  Then, I just lay down in the sand next to the outrigger and waited.  Waited for what, I don’t know.  I just, waited.  I began to feel a little lightheaded, and decided that, my last thoughts would be about Grandpa.  He kept a picture of me in his pocket, and somehow that picture found its way to the island, with Grandpa.  He put the picture up in the middle of his treehouse.  He gave up his spot for me on the outrigger.

Suddenly, I realized that he would be crushed, if he found me dead on the beach.  I couldn’t do that to him.  I tried to stop the bleeding, but I couldn't.  It was too late.  My body had lost too much blood already.  I couldn’t do anything.  As my brain got fuzzy, my final thought was, “I’m sorry Grandpa.”

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