It’s late when Milan and I are sitting on the same stone we sat on yesterday while watching the disappearing sun. We just had the funeral of Kai’s granddad. It was very weird, I can say that much. Almost all of us believe we will get rescued soon, but it is warm out here and leaving the body unburied would be… weird. And smelly, of course. So, everyone knew he had to be buried, and yet that feels so definite. It seems as if we’re admitting and committing to being stuck out here. I think Milan is thinking the same way, because we’re not talking much. We have to let the emotions of the last two days fade, I guess.
It’s nice being here with Milan. Even though we didn’t talk much today, or at all, for that matter. Still, it feels like we’re building a strong friendship. Some friendships don’t need many words and I’m not one for words anyway. I prefer watching and listening. Watching the sunset and listening to the calm of the ocean.
“You said you liked doing things with your hands?” Milan whispered, as if he knew I loved the quiet. “What did you mean, like Paul, building things?”
“Kinda. I love to paint and to make wooden sculptures.”
He is quiet. For a few seconds I listen to the ocean again “Why, what’s wrong with that?”
“N- Nothing. Well, dad always said art is useless. You can’t do anything with it.”
“Do you believe that?”
“I’m not sure. Never really thought about it.” He fumbles with his hands and I feel like he wants to say more about this, but he doesn’t.
“Ryan?” Hearing my mother’s voice, I turn around.
She walks up to us. “Oh, hey. Ronny, right?”
“No, that’s my brother. I’m Milan.”
“Hey Milan,” mom greets him and winks at me when she’s sure he isn’t looking. “Ryan, I’m going to bed now, Kai is already sleeping, it’s been a rough day. Will you be coming soon too?”
“Yes, I guess. I just want to enjoy the view a little longer. I didn’t sleep much last night, so I think going to bed early tonight would be a bad idea. Don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night again.”
“You could help Oliver while he watches the fire?”
I make no reply, we both laugh.
“I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you. You really stood by little Kai during the funeral. Without you, I don’t know how he would’ve responded to all this. He sees an older brother in you.”
“Thanks mom.” Milan and I watch her walking away and we both fall into our quietness again. I’m not sure how late it is now, but I don’t feel like it can be that late, as the sun only just went down. There are still a lot of people awake and busy around the camp. My eyes meet Ronny’s, who really doesn’t look too happy, but I don’t think I ever saw him happy, so does it matter?
“Made up your mind?”
“Huh?” Milan looks up from whatever he was doing.
“About whether art is useful or not.”
Milan grins. “I thought you were supposed to convince me it’s useful?”
“We’re turning it around now, are we?” I smile. “Well, for starters, it makes me happy when making it. My family is proud when I finish something and classmates sometimes ask me to paint them.”
“Doesn’t that mean you’re being used?”
“Not at all! I like painting, so why would that feel like being used? I get to do something I like while they get something they like too. What did any business man ever accomplish that made both him and the people around him equally happy?”
“Hmm,” is the only response I get.
“Milan, what are you doing, bro?” someone calls out. I look around to see Ronny finally left his sand throne.
“Watching the sunset?”
“With him?” he sneers.
Milan gets off the rock we’d been sharing. “What’s wrong with befriending other people on the island. We don’t know how long we’ll be here, better make sure the others don’t want to eat us.” He sticks out his tongue.
I always thought the oldest brother was the one with power over the others, but here, Ronny was obviously the one with power. At least, that’s what he thought. I’m not sure Milan could be so easily controlled. He pretty much agreed with me on arts, well, not really yet. He just said “hmm”. Still, him even considering agreeing with me, that went directly against what his parents had told him.
“You liked doing things with your hands, right?” Ronny grins.
I think it’s funny how his brother asked the same question just ten minutes ago, but his question was sweet, this one is full of hatred. I smile and nod.
“That means either something with art… or something else. Pretty gay in both cases, if you ask me.”
“Did we ask you?” Milan looks annoyed.
“Once he touches you… or worse… you’ll wish you’d asked me.” He laughs. “You know what dad says about gay people.”
“Dude, if you’re only here to pick a fight, you better leave. I just like having people around. As I said, we don’t know how long we’ll be stuck here.”
“Everyone here sucks,” Ronny complains. “Mom and dad were right.”
I don’t even want to know what they said.
“Yeah, Ronny, shoo.” He shoots me an angry look. “What an asshat,” I say when he’s gone.
“He’s trying. In his own way.”
“He should try harder.”
We stare at the ocean for another twenty minutes, when I suddenly think of something. “I’m going to live close to the ocean when I’m grown up.”
“You are? How can you know that for sure?”
I didn’t know it for sure, but I always kept the memory of that night. It was the night of Jonathan’s funeral. Now I think about it, I guess it was the first funeral I ever went to. Maybe when I was way younger, there was a grandparent of a friend or something like that, but I don’t quite remember. This funeral is the first one I remember. But it was also the night in which Milan and I grew a stronger bond, I think, because we stood up to Ronny together. I remember that night as if it was yesterday. I always held on to that dream of living near the sea and that’s why I live here now. You used to ask me why I wanted to buy this house so desperately, so here you go. I think you’re getting to know me a lot better while reading my story. Yes, I know that’s sad. You had a right to know me when we were still together.
Thirty minutes later, we decide to go to bed. Everyone else were already asleep, apart from Paul and Deborah. Paul had the early shift to keep guard and I guess Deborah decided to keep him company. Elisah wanted to give the job of guarding us at night only to the men, but Casey commented that women could do that too, which I think is true.
Kai is cuddled up close to my mom again, so I approach them quietly. I draw back the fleece blanket and lie down next to the two of them. I think I woke Kai, because he sleepily turns around. “Hey,” he whispers.
“Hey little bro. Did I wake you?”
“Well then. Let’s try to go back to sleep again. Been a long day.”
“True.” He smiles and I turn my back towards him and pull the fleece up to my chin. I close my eyes and feel Kai’s arm around me as he snuggles up close to me. I have to admit, I suddenly feel very proud of being here with him. With that thought in mind, I fall into a deep sleep.
I wake up eight hours later with a weird ticklish feeling next to my ear. I try to scare away whatever animal there is by turning my head furiously, but that only resulted in a giggle somewhere close. I open my eyes and see my mother, bent over me, blowing air in my ear. “Moooom.” I sigh out loud, which causes Kai, who had been watching this all happen, to laugh out loud.
“She was doing that for soooo long,” he laughs. “And you kept trying to slap some fly away.”
“Are you guys going to wake me up with these stupid tricks every morning?” I notice that sounded more like a complaint than a sarcastic comment, so I quickly add: “I maybe should find another bed around here.”
“Maybe you should ask Milan.” Mom winks at me.
“How about you get up and walk over to William and ask for some breakfast? Oh, and if you’re there, can you tell Paul that you’re finally awake?”
“Can I come?” Kai asks.
I nod and slowly crawl out of bed. I wonder how I managed to stay asleep when the sun is shining. We don’t have a hut yet, so we slept out in the open. Normally I wake when the sun comes up, but apparently I needed my sleep. I stretch my limbs and crawl in front of Kai, motioning to my back.
“Aww, can I?” And he jumps in the air out of excitement.
“Yes, but that means I’m the car and you’re the driver.” Kai hops on my back and I get up. “I close my eyes. Where should we go?”
“Forward. Yes, continue.” I can barely hear him through the giggles. “Left… Right… Left again.” Slowly we stagger towards the little camp where Casey and William are. Next to their camp a few suitcases are stacked on top of each other. William placed one of the plane chairs next to it, so he could count everything without having to stand up. We approach the camp. “Yes, forward. Okay, go on. You’re slow, Ryan!” More giggles follow. “Almost there… We’re there. Stop!” I peek through my eyelids and see I have another few steps to play with. “Stop!” I walk forward. “Ryan, stop! Stop.”
Right in front of Casey I stop. Kai almost dies of laughter and my heart melts a little more with every giggle. Casey smiles. “Did mister have a nice ride?”
“A little bumpy.”
“Well, that’s what you get for driving on a beach. You’re here for breakfast, I figure?”
“Yes,” I reply.
“William, what can you give these two adorable monkeys? And their mother, of course.”
“Hm. I got two sachets of peanuts, a few breadsticks and a little cup of jam. And three bottles of fresh water, of course.”
“Sounds delicious,” I comment.
“I bet it is!”
They hand us the food, which is, to be honest, not much. It’s nothing compared to what I used to eat, but I take it. Even though we found a lot of food in the plane, there is still the question of how long we’ll stay on this island. I do think clean water could become a problem. But I’m just a kid and the upside of being one, is not having to worry about grown-up things. Kai and I walk over to the hut next to the camp of the nurse. “Hey Paul!”
“Hey. Ryan, right?” I nod. “And Kai.” He nods too.
“Mom asked us to tell you I’m finally awake.” I emphasise the word ‘finally’ and roll my eyes.
He laughs. “Well then, tell her I’ll be there in about half an hour.”
“Will do,” I turn and walk away.
Kai taps my shoulder. “Should I steer again?”
I laugh. “No, let’s just walk now. You can drive another time.”
“Once… You got your driver’s license.”
On our way back we pass the ‘Bachmeier residence’. When Elisah said the families should get a hut first, she meant my mom, Kai and me, the Bachmeiers and the other family with two kids. I have to admit, I don’t think the pompous family earned it, they never helped anyone. It’s a bit unfair that we keep helping them.
Milan is cleaning up some things around their little camp, so I walk up to him. I notice Ronny is watching us closely. “Hey Milan. Wanna continue making the fishing rod today?”
He flashes a quick look at his parents, who are just laying in the sand. Are they sunbathing?! We’re stranded on an island and they’re sunbathing. “N- No. I can’t, today. Sorry.”
I raise an eyebrow. “I guess you have to do something super important in the meanwhile, right?”
“I’m sorry, Ryan.”
At least he really looked sorry. I wonder what happened here, but I don’t want to stay around to figure it out. I have a breakfast and a little boy to take care of. “Well, bye then. See ya.” And I continue to head home.
“I got peanuts, breadsticks and jam!”
“That’s great, Ryan. You went to see Paul too?”
I nod. “He’ll be here in thirty minutes.”
“Great, enough time to eat this,” she says as she takes the food I hand her. For a breakfast on a deserted island, it was still quite enjoyable. After the breakfast, Kai and I decide to try to finish the fishing rod. Well, it’s more like starting the project, as I only have something that vaguely resembles a hook. We have a lot of fun, though, and in the end I think that’s all that counts. Sometimes I notice how Milan watches us, filled with jealousy I bet, but I don’t pay much attention to that. He could easily come over and join us, if he wanted to.