This is how my story started. You asked me to tell you why I’m the way I am, you asked me to write it all down. I’m not a writer, however. I don’t have a specific style, I’m not literary schooled and I probably make many mistakes. Still, I have an untold story. One you wanted to hear, so here it is. I want to ask you, once again, to keep this a secret.
When I saw my mother’s red eyes and Kai’s body, that seemed to show his lack of hope, I started crying. My mother motioned me to sit next to her, and I did. I, too, buried my head in her arms.
“I know many bad things happened,” mom says, “and many more bad things could happen, but we have to stay hopeful. We are the survivors of a plane crash and we are strong people. Other people may be giving up, but we have to show them that we are strong. We will survive. Can you do that, Ryan?”
“Kai? I do not know you very well, but I like you. Can you promise me you will stay with Ryan? He’s my son, and will take good care of you. I have to… I have to discuss some things with the other adults.”
“Okay,” Kai sighs.
“Promise me you won’t run away again. Ryan would not forgive himself if you did, and you know, we’re all here together. We have to stick together.”
“I’ll be right back.” She turns and walks away, leaving her vacant place between us. I hesitantly move towards the young boy and put my arm around him. I know I have to try to make him forget about all the bad stuff. Even though I usually manage to stay positive throughout most negative experiences, it’s hard to keep a clear head with everything that happened. It feels very unreal, being in a plane crash. Seeing the desperate faces around you, smelling the burned plastic and watching the dark clouds of smoke rising from the pieces of the plane around me. “You ran away?” I ask with a hint of a smile.
“I didn’t want to see my granddad.” Kai moves even closer towards me. I always wondered how small kids bond with strangers that fast. I think he already feels safe with me. “Your mom is a fast runner, though.”
I smile. “Yes, she is. My sister ran away a lot when she used to get angry. My mom always ran faster.”
“I like her.”
“Everyone does, kiddo. She’s like a saint.”
I’m not sure how that first day continued though, it’s already so long ago. I have to warn you, that I do not remember every little detail perfectly. You asked for my story, but it is still MY story. It is my perception of everything that happened and I was, of course, still a child. I think this is one of the reasons I want my story to stay a secret story. You may use certain aspects, some experiences, in your own work, but please do not reference me in any way.
My mother helped pretty much everyone in the camp. I guess there were a few more hours until dark, so we gathered everyone together. In total there must have been around forty people by then. We set up an improvised camp, some people even managed to make a nice tent in those few hours. But most just put down some isolation on the ground and used whatever they could find as blankets. I still remember thinking about some kind of futuristic camp we could make with all the spare materials from the plane. Like the material of the plane chairs and metallic pieces to construct roofs for little huts. I also remember what my mother said just after we crashed: “we will be rescued within two days.” Building a huge camp, or town, simply would be too much work for a few days.
One of the things I have been wondering about those first few weeks is at what point we started realising that getting rescued was taking longer than it should have. I guess there wasn’t a sudden point of realisation, but rather it grew slowly. Some people accepted it sooner than others, that’s for sure. When the first people started building a more permanent hut, others looked at them like they were crazy. “It can’t take much longer now,” they mumbled. I think in some way it felt like a betrayal of the hope that they would be rescued. But, pretty soon after the first couple - Paul and Deborah - made a nice hut, others followed. That’s when I started to think about our little group of survivors as a civilisation.
That first night was scariest by far. My mom found some cardboard which we used as isolation. We did find our luggage, so we used our spare clothes (which of course weren’t that many, we were going to Aruba in the middle of the summer) as blankets. Kai slept between me and my mother. I couldn’t sleep. I still recall that, because I remember looking at my mom and Kai. Kai was very peaceful, he snuggled close to my mother and together they slept almost the whole night without waking up. I think Kai even smiled while he was asleep, which was a wonder considering he was an eight year old boy who survived a plane crash on his own and literally lost his granddad that same day.
I’m sitting on a huge rock close to the rough sea. It is very dark, only a faint glow from the big campfire in the middle of the camp illuminates the beach, but apart from that I can’t see a thing. The sea is black, the deepest black one can imagine. I think about all the animals that are swimming there now. It doesn’t scare me, no, I’m not scared of nature. I think it’s beautiful. The waves are hitting the rock I’m on in a very slow rhythm and occasionally some of the water is launched upwards. That sound, plus the saltiness in the air manages to calm me, even with everything that’s going on. I pull my knees towards me. It isn’t really cold or anything, but the wind is a bit chilly. I even think about grabbing my sweater, but I’m too tired to get off my rock.
In front of the campfire I distinguish a silhouet. It’s Rick, the weather dude. The adult men of the camp have to keep the fire going, so they made a schedule. Rick is poking at the fire with a stick, probably trying to keep himself awake. I thought about joining him, but I didn't imagine him liking having a kid with him when he’s burdened with keeping everyone safe during the night, so that’s why I decided to go to the sea instead.
I distinguish another silhouet, slowly growing bigger. Someone was coming towards me. I turn my back towards the person and stare into the ocean again. I hear the person behind me a minute later, so I look behind me. It’s one of those pompous kids. He sits down on a rock next to me, still a few meters away from me.
“‘Night,” I greet him.
“Can’t sleep either?”
“Nah. The bed is really hard, it hurts my back. And my dad snores. I couldn’t find my earbuds in all the mess on the beach.”
“So, what about you? Does your dad snore too?”
I get off of my rock and walk towards his. There was plenty of room for me to sit there, so we shouldn’t have to talk that loud. “No, my dad isn’t here. I’m with my mom.”
“Ah, your mom is Kyra, right?”
I smile. “You know her already. Why doesn’t that surprise me?”
“She helped us make some beds.” He snorts. “Or something that looks like it, anyway.”
“Sounds like her.” I take off my shoes and socks and wiggle my toes into the soft sand of the beach.
“But why aren’t you asleep?”
“I’m not one for sleeping. I have a hard time falling asleep when there is so much to think about.”
“Are you scared?” the boy asks.
“Nah, not really.”
At that point into the story I don’t even know his name. Although he was a part of the family I judged and disliked a half a day before, I thought it was interesting enough to get to know him. And yes, he is the guy I qualified as being cute that same day, but that wasn’t the reason. He pretty much was the only guy of my age in the camp and I like having people around me.
We talked about the ocean and everything that could be living in it. About the island and everything that could be living on it; and about the possibility of getting rescued that same week. Little did we know we would be two of only eight people who survived on the island.
After an hour of talking we decide it is a smart move to try to get some sleep before the sun comes up. It probably would be a busy day. So I go to bed silently, trying not to wake little Kai.
Four hours later I open my eyes when Kai pulls on my ear. “Ryan, Kyra asked me to wake you up.” He wears a huge smile. Sleepily I look around me and notice my mother not more than a few meters away. She could’ve shook me awake herself, but she didn’t. I know why she didn’t, she wanted to give Kai an important task to cheer him up. Apparently it worked.
“You little devil. There are a million ways to wake me, but you decide to almost pull my ear off my head!”
He giggles. “I never liked them, anyway!” And he runs away.
I look at my mom. “Does he really believe I’d chase him right after I open my eyes?” I roll my eyes.
She laughs. “He clearly doesn’t know you!”
I look around and notice pretty much everyone is awake. Some people are moving around their improvised beds, some others are making smalltalk. A few people pretty much wander around without any purpose.
“I have a biscuit for you, for breakfast,” mom hands me some weird package with Russian text on it. “It’s pretty good, give it a try,” she adds when she sees me inspecting the snack. “Elisah just came by. She told us this afternoon we all have to gather near the campfire. We’re going to talk about rations and a division of tasks.”
“You’re telling me this because this could be the last time I have a biscuit for breakfast?” I smile.
“Yes, and to prepare you. I’m not sure how many tasks there will be, but you’re old enough to do some, I think. Chances are you have to help a little bit.”
“Mom, you know I like helping.”
Kai finally notices I’m not chasing him, so he returns to us.
“I know you do, sweetie. Focus on helping him, then, I think he really needs it.” She nods towards the boy.
“I feel so sorry for him,” I smile at Kai. “Dude, when I’m only just awake, I need some time before I can chase you. Like, a loooot of time!”
“Tell me about it,” mom complains. “Sometimes he needs three hours to even be able to open his eyes halfway.” The three of us laugh.
“When you expect it least, though, I’ll get back at you,” and at that moment, I decide to be the big brother he really needs right now.
In the end, it only made the loss hurt more, but in some way every friendship is like that. Even though no one is conscious about it, still everyone knows you’ll lose every single friend you make. Does that keep us from making friends? Of course not!
If I could do it all again, I’d still befriend the little dude. The period of being his friend outweighed all the pain and emptiness that came afterwards. I wish you could know him. He wouldn’t just be a better source to tell you what happened on the island, he’d be a better friend to you too. He’d be a better person. Pretty much everyone on the island could have told you all this better than I can, but well, here I am writing this all down. And I’m really going to write it ALL down, which could take a while. So you’d better take a seat somewhere you can read it quietly.