The Runaway Castaway

short story


4. Tour

    He walked me back to camp, and I, thinking that all it would be was a few tents, was amazed by what I saw when my grandpa led me into another clearing.

    This was no ordinary camp.  This was magnificent.  Extraordinary.  Amazing.  There were intricate tree houses hovering above the clearing, dangling on branches protruding from the trees.  There were rope ladders down to the ground that swayed in the gentle breeze.  There were rickety bridges that connected all of the tree houses.  And, sitting in front of the campfire in the middle of the clearing, were the four other castaways.

    As grandpa and I entered the clearing, the castaways turned away from the fire and stared at me.  They kept staring, and I started to feel uncomfortable.

    Finally, grandpa broke the silence by saying, “Well, this here’s my grandson.  He washed up on the beach, just like the rest of us.  I’m gonna go show him around.”

    And with that, we left the other castaways and headed for a rope ladder on the far side of the clearing.

As we climbed up the ladder, grandpa asked, “Now, how did you get here, because I’m guessing that you are scared of ships ever since I fell off that ship, and there’s no other way to get to this island.

“I was running away,” I replied unsteadily, unsure of how he would take it.

“But Harper, why?”

“Mom and Dad took away my computer and grounded me for two months,” I replied, although immediately after, I realized that that probably sounded ridiculous.  It was a stupid thing to run away for.

“Harper,” grandpa said disapprovingly.

It was then that we reached the top of the rope ladder.  I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when I pulled myself up into the treehouse.  It was a gigantic wooden place and it had a bamboo bed with a palm frond blanket on top.

    In the middle though, was something unimaginable, something I didn’t think I would ever see in this treehouse, right now, in the middle of an unknown jungle.

    It was a weatherbeaten photograph, of me. I wondered how he’d gotten it here.

    “I’m guessing you’re wondering about the photo.  When I washed up on the island, I reached into my pocket and found that picture.  I figured, if you couldn’t be here to enjoy the tranquility of the island, the picture could at least remind me of you.”

    I didn’t know what to say.  Those words had touched me in a way that I didn’t know was possible.  For a few minutes, we just sat in silence, looking at the picture together.

    Grandpa broke the silence by uttering, “I love you Harper.”  The way he said it, I knew he really did mean it.

    “You know, I’ve been sort of itching to get off this island.  So have the other castaways.  We built an outrigger that we are going to get off this island with.”  Grandpa said.

    “But, I just got here.  I don’t want to go yet.”

    “I’m sorry Harper.  All the other castaways have agreed that we will all set off tomorrow, first thing in the morning.”

    “Okay, but can we at least look at all the treehouses together first?”

    “Okay Harper, but right after that we’re going to have dinner and then you’re going to go to bed.”

    “Fine,” I said, only a little annoyed that he was treating me like a little kid.

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