Kai really has unlimited powers of concentration. When I was his age, I wouldn’t be able to spend that much time doing the same thing. But he really focuses on it and probably wouldn’t even have stopped if I tell him to go eat some lunch. It’s very cute to observe, his tongue a little outside of his mouth as he carefully cuts away all the bark from the long stick we found.
It’s afternoon when Paul drops by. “Hey guys. What are you doing?”
“Making a fishing rod.” Kai has an enormous smile. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
“It sure is. Have you found something to use as a line?”
“No. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. It has to be hard to see.”
“Not really. You can pretty much use any wire or thread as long as it’s strong enough to hold those huge fish you’re going to catch. I can help you, if you want?”
“Great! We can go catch the fish this evening!”
Paul laughs and tussles Kai’s hair. “I’m sure we won’t finish the rod today, little man. But, I saw you guys stripped the bark, which is a good start. Still, the stick will dry out and probably snap if you catch a fish. We need to oil it.”
I consider that a minute. “I think I saw some grease in the wreckage yesterday.”
“You went to the wreckage?”
“Well, yes. I was looking for something to use as a fishing hook. See, don’t you think it’s perfect?” I hold up the hook I made from a small nail I found underneath a chair.
“It’s great, but you have to promise me to never go into the plane again. We don’t know if the roof will hold, you could’ve gotten stuck in there.”
I look down at the sand. “Yes, I’m sorry.” I nervously kick the sand. I glance past Paul, my eyes crossing paths with Milan’s. Why doesn’t he just come and help us? Why does he care what his little brother thinks of him!
“Anyway, I’ll go and look for some of that grease now. Put those sticks in the sunlight over there, so they can dry a little more.”
“Can you look for something long and sharp, too? Like a big nail or something? A piece of metal would work too.”
“What do you need that for?”
“I’m into wood carving and I don’t want to destroy the few knifes we have.”
He nods and walks away. Kai and I do as he asked and put the rods in the sunlight. “What can we do now?” my little brother asks.
“I’m not sure, maybe we can help some others in the camp?”
It surprises me how tasty the food is. We’re stranded on an island and still we’re eating as if we’re in a restaurant. Casey made us toasted bread with some smoked beef and a salad with cheese and apple. I know I should be scared, it’s the third day and we haven’t been rescued, but I have to admit, I’m enjoying this. It’s a way better vacation than the original plan was. These people feel like family already!
That night I join my mom and Kai in going to bed early, but I wake up a few hours later. I decide to go to my usual spot, the rocks near the ocean. When I walk up, however, I notice a silhouet. One I recognise all too well.
I sit down next to Milan without saying a word. I glance at him a second, right when he decided to do the same, but neither of us say anything. You would expect this to be awkward, but it’s not even close to that. It feels very natural, even after he pretty much ignored me all day long. I know something happened with his parents or his brother, I know he didn’t ignore me without a good reason. This silent coming together proves it. It’s just okay, you know? That’s such a wonderful feeling. We know all’s right between us, we know we built a friendship over the last two days that won’t easily be destroyed.
“I’m sorry,” Milan finally whispers.
“For ignoring you. I shouldn’t have done that.”
I move closer to him. Our sides are pretty much touching at this point, but that doesn’t feel awkward either. There is nothing sexual, or love-related about this, just closeness. A good closeness. “There is nothing wrong, man. Something happened at home, I know.” Home… it’s weird to say that.
“Ron told my parents I was, and I quote, ‘queering around’ with you. They got angry with me and told me not to see you again. I shouldn’t have listened to them.”
‘It’s weird that even when you’re trying to survive on a deserted island like this, family drama still happens.’ “Of course you listen to them. They’re your parents.”
“They told me they weren’t going to give me food if I still went over to help with the fishing rod.”
“Woah. That’s sad man. Would they really do that?” I find that hard to believe.
He shrugs. “I guess so. So, how was your day?”
“Pretty good. We made a lot of progress with the fishing rods. Paul helped us greasing them, and he found me some tools to carve wood with.”
“Yes. I found a nice piece of wood, I’m planning to carve the outline of our camp into it. It’s a nice way to spend the huge amount of free time we have.”
“I bet. Does it work well, carving with those tools?”
I shake my head. “Didn’t try it yet. But it’s not really about whether it’ll work or not, it’s about the joy I have while focusing on something like that. I saw it with Kai today. Normally he’s so energetic, but today he was calm and focused. It was very cute to see.”
“I saw that, yes.” He smiles. “Do y- you… Do you think you can teach me how to carve?”
Admittedly, that surprises me a little. “Yes, of course I can. Everyone can do arts! It’s not about the result, it’s about the process.”
“I’ll go to bed early tonight, last few nights I didn’t get enough sleep, man.”
“Yeah, me too.” We spent another half an hour watching the ocean. At some point I put my arm around him.
I’m sure that if someone had seen us together; two boys being close like that when they’re actually in grave danger, two boys staring at the ocean as if they long to disappear in it, that someone would think we were lifelong friends. We weren’t like that, we didn’t even know each other, and I’m pretty sure we would never have befriended each other, if not for being stuck on an island. Tom, I know you wanted to get to know him too and I’m sorry I never let you get close to him. This story, however, will hopefully make you understand why I want to keep this part of my life separated from the rest. Things happened on the island. Things I promised never to talk about.
After those thirty minutes we split up. I wonder if this is our thing now, meeting up in the dead of night to enjoy the quiet together. We’ve done it every night so far. I’m wondering if we’re developing other feelings than just a friendship? Milan told me about his parents and what they think about homosexuality. He didn’t look too bothered about it. So nothing is happening between us, right? Ronny was right about me though, he saw straight away that I’m gay, but that’s apparently very obvious about me. Maybe because I enjoy doing arts, or maybe I’m just too feminine in how I move, I don’t really care anyway. I just hope I won’t scare away Milan. I crawl into bed, this time without waking up the little boy and fall asleep. I dream a lot this night, but when I wake up I don’t remember what it was all about.
No one tried to tease me awake this morning. Instead, I was the first to wake up. I stay in bed a little longer while I watch the sun come up, illuminating and waking the camp. My mom and Kai are still sleeping very peacefully. Silently I grab my piece of wood and some of the tools Paul gathered, then sit down in the sand a few meters away from them. Quietly, I start carving a little bit. Beginning with the beach and the sea in the distance. It’s very rough still, but the wood is hard and dry enough to work it. At some point Kai gets up too and sits down next to me. “Good morning, Ryan.”
“Hey there, little one. Sleep well?”
He rubs his eyes. “Yes! You were gone last night?”
“Yes. I couldn’t sleep so I watched the ocean for awhile. It calms me.”
“I noticed. I missed my big pillow.”
I laugh. “Nice to hear I’m only a big pillow to you.”
He blushes. “And you’re a cool guy who wants to play with me.” He hugs me, almost causing me to slip and make a mistake carving the wood.
Mom opens her eyes right at that moment and smiles when she notices the hug. “Good morning, sweeties.”
“Good morning mom,” Kai blurts and immediately covers his mouth with his hand. “Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to.”
She just laughs gently. “No problem, Kai. I’d love you to be my son. You can be my son as long as you want to be.”
“Nice!” He runs to her and hugs her too. The day hadn’t even started and he’d already hugged both of us. No wonder I like being on this island.
“Paul will build us a hut today,” Mom looks over as she makes the bed. “Maybe you can help?”
“I actually promised to teach Milan how to carve wood. I guess that won’t take the whole day.”
“It’s okay, Ryan. You helped a lot around the camp already, you can take a day off.”
I gave her a smile.
“Wood carving! Epic!” Kai exclaims.
My smile fades away only slightly, but that was enough for my mother to notice it. “You, on the other hand, mister, didn’t help that much. Maybe you can help us today with the hut?”
“Awww. I did help, right, Ryan?”
“And, I don’t want you playing around with those sharp tools Ryan uses when carving. Helping us is much safer.”
“B- But… I used a knife on the fishing rods too!”
She raises a brow. “You did?” She glances at me. “He did?”
“I taught him to do it safely, always push the knife away instead of pulling it towards you. And I was even younger than Kai is when I learned how to use a knife.” I don’t dare to look at her, instead I inspect the sand beneath my feet.
“Remind me to thank your granddad when we’re back,” Kyra sighs. “Well then, go get your date and start carving!”
“Moooom!” I try to resist giggling, but a few similar sound still leave my mouth. A date. I grab my carving tools and walk towards the Bachmeier’s place, but I stop a few meters away. What if Milan changed his mind again? He asked me to teach him last night, he could’ve meant he’d try to sneak away from his parents? Maybe I shouldn’t walk up to them like that. Then Ronny appears all of a sudden and I immediately turn around to walk away. Too late, he saw me.
“Milan, fag is here to see you.”
“Ron, stop it.” Milan appears from behind some sheets they use to block out the sun. “Heya Ryan. Don’t mind him, he’s just jealous.”
“Hah… Jealous. You wish!”
“Shoo,” I say and laugh when he walks away angrily. “Ready for some carving?”
“Let’s go. But maybe we should go a little further so Ron can’t bother us?”
“Sounds good. I really need some food first, didn’t have breakfast yet.” We go to William and ask for some food. He gives us some peanuts again and a bottle of water.
“William, I know we have enough food, but do we have enough water too?” Milan asks after I make a move to walk away.
It’s apparent that the question worries the man. “Not really. Today the Bachelors and Rick will head out to look for water sources.” The Bachelors is how we call the group of four men who are in their thirties.They were on the plane because they were going to have a bachelor party on Aruba. “I really hope they will find something soon.”
“Can’t we just unsalt the sea water?” This is apparently a stupid question, judging from their funny faces. “Never mind.”
Milan laughs, but it doesn’t feel like he’s laughing at me. Well, I hope it isn’t like that, because I totally hate people who laugh at each other. “No, that won’t work,” he says. “Now, let’s go. Wood doesn’t carve itself now, does it?”