Ephemeral

In which a princess learns what truly matters.

There stood an island, far away from the rest of civilization in the middle of the ocean, separated by water. Its defining characteristic was its beauty – its tall mountains, its plush forests, its overabundance of plants of all types. It was the greenest island in the world, and when sailing past it, captains and crewmembers alike always remarked how it looked like the ocean itself blew a giant, green bubble, and that bubble was the island.

                Upon this island there lived a group of people not very different from anyone else. They inhabited the island and used its resources for their well-being but had virtually no contact with any other nearby groups, both because of the distance of their home from any land mass and because the islanders hadn’t the slightest idea any other humans on the earth existed besides them. The passing ships that came into view were thought to be sea monsters come to destroy their island and any attempt at communication in the past from the passing ships was met in deadly warfare, in which the islanders, with their knowledge of their terrain and their experience with the sea, usually won. All communication between any surrounding land mass and the little island was thus discouraged, and the only glimpse any humans ever got of the island or its inhabitants were from these passing ships, which barely got within ten miles to the island.

                The islanders knew how to fend for themselves, however, and were satisfied with their civilization’s progress. They grew their food and picked the fruit which grew on the various trees and they drank the water from streams and lagoons surrounding their village, for drinking the ocean water was forbidden after their founding chief fell ill from tasting it many centuries earlier, so any and all association with the ocean was outlawed. In fact, many had never even seen the ocean either. They also never hunted, not only because they did not believe in harming the wildlife which coinhabited the island with them, but because there was little wildlife to begin with. The number of species living on the island had been declining since the sudden extinction of the Oomkali crab, which was the primary food source for all of the species once living on the island. The islanders had given up hunting such species long ago when their numbers began to decrease and instead shifted their diets to their own, personally-grown foods or replenishable fruits that grew on the trees, which were also beginning to decline as well. A lot was beginning to disappear from the island, as a matter of fact. But the islanders took little notice of these changes and just continued to adapt. They were very good adapters.

                Yes, the islanders were living quite pleasantly on their island given the circumstances, and it was all thanks to the one thing they all centered their lives and hopes around.

                The frangeracuca shell.

                The islanders obsessed over the frangeracuca shell. To them, it was the most precious gem on the entire island, and they guarded these shells with their lives. The ships that would pass by their island, they believed, were marauders, desiring to invade their territory and steal the shells. And the islanders knew that these shells only existed in limited supplies, and the amount of time for their mother Earth to make more would take hundreds upon hundreds of years, so they cherished the frangeracuca shells they had while they had them. The shells were used for everything, but mostly for beautification. Every islander, man, woman, or child, adorned every part of their bodies with these shells to make themselves appear more beautiful and attractive, because to them, presentation and appearance was everything. Neighbors bragged to other neighbors about their shells and sellers fought to the death with other sellers to market the finest shells they could find and sell them at convenient prices. The entire village was adorned with these shells which were hung proudly from tree to tree or on the outside of the huts, though most of the shells could be found bejeweling the grand hut of the King of the village and his daughter, the lovely Princess Deboline. Out of all of the villagers, Princess Deboline loved these shells most of all, and never did a day go by when her neck was not proudly clasped with a necklace of frangeracuca shells, or her wrists or ankles not weighed down with clanging shells as she walked, or her hair ravaged with them woven into her fine, short locks. The Princess’s image was a model to the other villagers who would try so desperately to mock her appearance, especially the women, and some would even give a few of their own precious shells to Princess Deboline for her approval. The people sought for days to find such shells that were strewn about the island after the disappearance of the Oomkali crab, and the more shells that were found, the more beautiful a villager felt.

             

The End

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