I don’t know what’s happened to us all. Bewitched by this random rich girl who chooses to stay on a solitary island all by herself—and the police don’t know about her, presumably. Dean calls her an ‘angel’. Cassie calls her a ‘demon’.
I don’t know what she is; some particle of sunlight personified through insanity.
How come she hasn’t seen our smoke signals before now? Haven’t we been here that long? It feels like we’ve been here forever—and if so, it must be nearly my birthday. I was due to be fifteen a fortnight after I first arrived at camp. How long ago now? I don’t know. Everything’s changed. I don’t know if I want to be fifteen. Age just doesn’t seem to matter any more.
There’s been near-fatal injuries at least once a day; hunger, exhaustion, memories—none of this can be real. Maybe we’re all hallucinating.
If only I had a good reason to hallucinate. The worst injury I’ve had is a splintered finger and a couple of bruises, while Dean had his hand sliced off, Sarah’s lame in both feet and Jim’s laid up pretty nastily. Everyone’s been fainting off and on for the past half-day. I’ve been sitting here by this tree with my head in my hands. The muscles in my neck have melted, I swear. My head just won’t hold itself up any more.
And I won’t sleep in that ‘house’. I walked in once, and the moment I felt the door frame over my head I started to nauseate. I swayed a bit, and accidentally hit Bree with one flailing arm; then recovered myself and backed out.
There was an instant release as the pressure cleared from above me. I can’t go inside that place again. It speaks of my whole life back at ‘home’: my life as a prudent citizen of an ordered community: my life as the obedient child of traditionalist parents.
I’ve lived a different existence for the past five days. Life has been my battle, my desire, my sustenance. I’ve gathered wood and berries and slept beneath the stars. I’ve felt torrential rain soaking me through and cleansing my stains, hurricane winds ripping through my hair, tearing out my bitter cobwebs, gaping sunshine engulfing my soul and cradling my shivering body in its comforting folds. I’ve seen blood and agony and endurance. And I’ve found comradeship through silence and nature.
There is no way I want to ‘live’ in this house of that girl’s, when I can subsist on the land out here and feel a new spirit growing within my once-oppressed heart.
Do I even want to be rescued? Not all that much. I don’t care about being found any more. I just want to live here on this island till I die, and somehow through solitary perseverance I’ll forget my childhood.
If it weren’t for Rufus, that’s what I’d do.
Maybe I should say something about my family.
I’m one of eight—two sisters, five brothers, then me. I’m the youngest, along with Rufus, who is seventeen, and whom I love more than anyone else in the world.
Our parents are ancient, over sixty, and born in Victorian times at least, if not in the medieval ages.
They were originally from England, but came out to America to ‘broaden their horizons’. Then Diana, or ‘Diamond’, as we now call her, arrived, and they ended up staying and giving birth to seven more children.
They’ve wanted to move back ever since, and get away from all ‘this independence poppycock’ and back to ‘good old conservative society’. But they never got round to it. They had too many children, being archaic-minded anti-contraception traditionalists as they were.
I’ve been to England once, five years ago, to my youngest grandparent’s funeral. I met one of my great-aunts there, and she shocked me something terrible: a half-crazed soul gradually imploding inside a shrivelled carcass.
But for all that I liked England. I liked the accent and the drab old buildings. The weather’s damn awful, but it complements my average mood so finely. My kind of place, I thought then.
Not any more. I don’t know how I’ll be able to find my way back into civilisation, if ever we are destined to get there.
For now, I’m going to live. All I want is here on this island. All I’ve ever been searching for. And just by chance, via a freak storm that blew up out of the still complacency that was that day nigh on a week ago, I’ve found it.