The writing prompt was: you are stranded on a desert island with a dictionary, a coconut and a mask. How do you escape? 800 word maximum.
That Wilson Was a Fine Actor
Ever since that Tom Hanks cave-manned his emaciated arse (p.1) across the sand in Castaway, people are so quick to assume that every roundish object on a desert island is a friend to be made. Those idiots never spent 114 days with that selfish coconut. The smug ball was sitting in the sand, not saying a thing, when we both knew good and well that his insides were likely turning to cheese in the hot sun. I flung myself back onto my side of the island putting the solitary palm tree between us and forced my eyes to look everywhere except his side of the beach. The boat on the horizon was definitely getting closer. The knot in my gut tightened as I realized that he was no closer to telling me the answer.
114 days ago I’d been living it up on a Disney cruise boat with my cousin. We’d just filled our bellies with cookies and were about to try the big water slide- wearing snorkeling gear this time, because yesterday it nearly drowned us. When my cousin says, “I got a riddle for you. What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?”
Well the truth is, I didn’t have a clue. But I‘d seen in the ship’s gift shop, a book entitled: Dictionary of Pirate Lingo- talk like a matey before you hit page eighty. I’m not proud of this fact, but after nearly drowning on that wicked slide once again, I went and stole that book. Jimmy wouldn’t tell me the answer and if I was ever to learn the truth, that book held my best chance. I slipped the tome into the back of my wet trunks and then draped a couple pool towels around me Julius Caesar style.
And then I took off running. My only problem was that the wet shorts, towels twisting around my ankles and a scuba mask impeding my view made for a sloppy getaway. Before I knew it, I was tumbling headlong over the brass handrail and into the waiting arms of the salty Pacific.
Twelve hours of battling Davy Jones (p. 16) and I found myself sputtering on this island no bigger than a postage stamp. By nightfall I’d read the entire pirate dictionary twice and was no closer to finding the answer. By morning, I was lonely. That’s when the sun rose, bright and beautiful, and lit upon the few stringy hairs of what was to become my best friend. A coconut. I still remember the first time I saw those three brown eyes of his. And how I felt.
It had actually been his idea to send out the distress messages. We didn’t have much to work with, but we did have a pirate dictionary. Each evening as the sky became alive with color, we’d tear out seafaring terms that would make a good “rescue me” note. Many of them had something to do with a scallywag. Most of them came out sounding more like hostile threats than pleas for help. But each night, as the sun set fire to the sea, we’d toss our messages into the tides in hopes that, someday, we’d be rescued.
During the days, the two of us would hunker in the shade and pour over the few clues the dictionary could offer. I’d told him of the riddle and together we would find the answer, come black spot (p.4) or Fiddler’s Green (p. 13).
113 days we spent searching for the truth. Then, this morning, he admits that he figured it out.
I begged him to tell me, but he wouldn’t. He just plunked down in the sand and stared off at the rolling waves. It made me furious.
The rescue boat was now close enough that I could hear the hum of its motor over the toss of the waves. A tear, as saline as our salty prison, slipped silently down my cheek as I accepted the fact that he might never share the secret with me.
I let my rescuers lift me over the lip of the speedboat, swearing that I wouldn’t look back. I allowed myself one final glance toward that stubborn, brilliant, spoolly brown head staring off at the ocean.
And then suddenly, I understood. He’d been telling me the whole time. He was staring out at the ocean; the sea.
Question: what is a pirate’s favorite letter?
Answer: you might think it be arrrgh, but it’s truly the sea.
***Dedicated to my scallywag bro, Danny