A man and a woman wake up separately, seemingly alone on a deserted island with no memory of how they came to be there, no memory of their pasts, but drawn to each other… even though they can’t remember why. And even though they find each other, things still aren’t quite what they seem…
“Maybe that’s where all of the good historical fiction comes from. People like us. Maybe that’s where the more authentic movies get their information. People who have actually remembered living it.” Charles made a sound of frustration, “I really miss being able to just look things up on google, too! I really want to know if other people have been through something like this. It’s the first thing I’m going to look up when we get back.”
Rachel smiled, “Oh, sweetie, of course other people have been through this. I mean, I always thought it was more of a fantasy or a delusion, but surely at least some of those people who talk about past lives and being reincarnated… surely some of them are legitimate. I never would have believed it before this whole thing, but I’m beginning to wonder how many people actually have been through this same thing.”
They were so lost in conversation that they didn’t realize how close they were to the rock until they nearly ran into it.
Both Charles and Rachel were momentarily speechless as they realized they’d almost walked right into the rock without noticing it. There had been so much trepidation about getting to this very place, that they were surprised to find that not only had they reached the rock, but that nothing had happened. Nothing strange at all. They both stood still, almost as if they expected to have more memories of the past appear.
Nothing happened, but they stood there just long enough that when they realized what they were doing, they both burst out with nervous laughter.
“Oh for Heaven’s sake,” said Rachel. “We’re being so ridiculous. We got ourselves so worked up over what was going to happen and it was all for nothing.”
“I blame you,” Charles teased. “You and that wild imagination of yours. You just pulled us both into your crazy ideas.”
“Sure, sure. It was ALL me. You weren’t buying into any of it at all. Sure,” Rachel looked at the quickly sinking sun. “Regardless, we’d best find a place to sleep or we’re going to be laying on this rock all night.”
They both turned to see the sun about to sink into the horizon and quickly walked to the cover of the trees to find some place to lay their heads for the night.
The sun woke them up early after a night of deep, dreamless sleep. They woke up feeling the anxiety of the unknown. Neither of them gave any thought to the fact that they weren’t hungry when they awoke. As a matter of fact, if they had really put their minds to it, they would have realized fairly quickly that they hadn’t eaten anything in at least a day or so.
They got to their feet and with a fairly intense look at each other, they started for the rock.
The rock was so much larger than they expected. When they’d first seen it, the rock had seemed like a good landmark to guide them because it was so distinctive (and yeah, it looked a little bit like a frog). It also marked the end of the island. A place where they could finally, definitively reach ‘the other side’ of their island paradise and see what there was to see on the other side.
Now that they were here, there wasn’t anything particularly telling about the rock. There wasn’t a weird feeling or vibration that they felt. It was just a rock. They both kept quiet, but were a bit embarrassed at how much they’d dreaded reaching this “big” destination.
With a deep breath, Charles took Rachel’s hand in his and they stepped around the rock.
Rachel let out a sigh of relief, laughing out loud at the fact that in spite of everything, she’d still expected to step into some sort of magical… world or something.
“What’s so funny?” Charles asked.
Rachel smiled up at him, the mirth still evident in her eyes, “I don’t know. I was just being silly. Expecting something that wasn’t even there. I don’t know. Don’t pay me any attention. Let’s go!” She turned and took a step, then two… and soon they were both running away from the walk, around the final edge of the island to see what was on the other side.
Suddenly Charles pulled up short and stopped. Rachel turned to see him shading his eyes and staring at something in the distance. She looked and saw what had captured his attention.
It was a boat. A small, wooden rowboat. Not much, but it was something. She felt her pulse quicken. “Charles! A boat… that means…” she didn’t even want to say the words out loud for fear that the boat would disappear.
“That means there are people here.” He said, his voice calm despite his racing heart.
“There are PEOPLE HERE!” Rachel cried out with relief and tugged his hand, “Let’s go!”
The started running towards the boat, the sun nearly blinding them as it reflected off of the white sandy beach. If this had been a typical vacation, they would have been slowly strolling, appreciating the scent of the salty air, the gorgeous trees and the soft white sand. Instead, they raced on, heedless of the sand burning their feet, their only focus on the little wooden rowboat sitting on the sandy shore while the tides were out.
They ran until they were out of breath and the boat still seemed so far away. The sun seemed even brighter, beating down on them relentlessly. Charles slowed to a walk and tugged on Rachel’s hand. “Slow down, Babe. It’s not going anywhere. I’m dying here,” he said, panting in the heat.
Rachel turned to him, feeling fairly exhausted herself. “I know, but it’s so close! Do you think the owners are around here somewhere?” She looked back inland, hoping to see some sign of habitation. There was none. Not a sign of any human anywhere. Her face fell, the disappointment shining clearly.
“Hey, maybe they’re from another island nearby and they just came here for fruit or… fishing?” Charles said, his words soaked with doubt.
They walked towards the boat stuck on the sand. They weren’t too worried. The boat was far enough inland that the tide would need to come all the way in for it to flat away. Still, there was a steadiness to their steps. They were both determined to get there and salvage the boat if nothing else. They didn’t need much, just a glimmer of hope. The boat had to belong to someone, and if that someone came looking for it, Charles and Rachel planned on being there.
The sun seemed to be getting closer, hotter with each step they took towards the small craft. They shielded their eyes against the bright sun, but it just seemed to hit them from every angle.
Their steps slowed as they got closer. Rachel started to feel that grip of anxiety again. Of doubt and worry. “Do you think this is the right thing to do?” She asked Charles.
“I don’t think we have any choice anymore, love. We have to know. We can’t stop now, we have to see this through.”
If Rachel thought that was a strange answer, she didn’t say anything about it. In spite of the hot sun, she felt a chill and wrapped her arms around herself for warmth. Charles noticed and wrapped his arms around her shoulders.
They kept walking, resolutely. Getting closer and closer to the boat, watching it start to sway gently as the tide slowly came back in, rising just enough to let the wood start to float just a little. Their hands were clasped tight as they got closer, their bodies no longer cold or chilled, but feeling baked to the bone. Charles could feel her hand shaking in his, but there was no time to stop.
They were walking closer now, close enough to see the bits of white paint on the sides that hadn’t been worn down. They both found themselves straining to see the name of the boat as it rocked in the shallow water.
There was an oar sticking out of the side of the boat, looking just as worn, if not more so than the rest of the boat. The wood was so faded, it seemed a miracle that the boat was floating at all.
“Charles, do you feel that?” Rachel asked.
“Yes.” His answer was blunt, but he said nothing else.
The air seemed to shimmer around them. There was an energy or something undefinable that was reaching for them, slowly surrounding them. They didn’t pay any attention, just kept walking towards the boat, their feet moving almost as if they had a mind of their own.
Rachel found herself getting closer to Charles. She let go of his hand and wrapped her hands around his arms. A feeling of dread was crawling up her spine, an inky darkness that felt so clear, so blatant, that she wouldn’t have been surprised to look down and see some darkness seeping under her skin. She clung to Charles and he squeezed her hand on his arm.
They both kept walking. The boat was in view and they could see that there was something in the boat. Fabric, perhaps.
“Maybe it’s just an old tarp or something,” Charles didn’t even recognize his own voice. It was dry, full of dust like an old book from a long abandoned library. He cleared his throat and took another step. And another.
Rachel’s eyes didn’t waver from the wisp of red fabric that she could see blowing in the breeze.
Another step. They walked closer.
A gasp and a small cry from Rachel made them both stop. There was a foot sticking up. There was a body in the boat. Rachel broke free of Charles, for some reason feeling an urgent need to get to the boat. To check on the people. A fear, an ache down in her bones screaming at her to stop, to not go any further, while her body ran on. Heedless of the rocks cutting into her feet, of the salt water as she continued to run. She could hear Charles following close behind.
The tide was rising, the water nearly to her knees as she reached the boat. She clutched the fragile wooden sides of the boat, a scream held frozen in her mind as she took in the sight before her.
“Oh my god.” Charles had reached the boat. He grabbed the boat, dragging it towards shore, feeling the need to get the boat on dry land. “Help me!” He cried, his panic and his drive to rescue the boat, the people inside. He wasn’t seeing what Rachel had already seen.
Tears coursed down her face as she watched Charles struggle with the boat. Of course he was in rescue mode. He would always be the rescuer. Even when it was too late. She put her hand over his, “It’s too late, Charles. LOOK.”
“Let go of me!” His voice was rough, filled with anguish and fear, “Let go! Let me fix it!” He struggled, the wood of the boat breaking into splinters under his grip as he pulled.
“CHARLES! STOP!” Rachel screamed at him, grabbed fruitlessly at his hands, “Stop it! JUST LOOK!” She took the hand of the woman’s body in the boat and lifted it. Charles shut his eyes, still struggling to pull the boat to shore. “Charles!” Her voice broke, she was done. She became quiet, and with almost a whisper, “It’s too late, Charles, just look. Just see…”
And Charles stopped pulling, stopped fighting it and looked in the boat. There was a woman, immaculately dressed. Her hair seemed untouched, brown, curled and highlighted just so. Her makeup was on point and her red dress hugged her curves. The red fabric they had seen from afar had been her dress, fluttering in the breeze.
His eyes tracked to the other person lying so still in the boat. He recognized the shoes, the jeans, the garish tropical print shirt… even the belt. He ran his hand through his hair even as he looked at the same hair on the unmoving body in the boat.
He swallowed, hard. He was looking at himself from above and it wasn’t even the strangest sensation of the week. He let his eyes take in the other body once again. It was definitely Rachel. He felt something in his bones. A shifting, an otherworldly ache deep inside.
The bright sunny sky suddenly turned dark. Nearly pitch black. The crack of thunder and an enormous flash of lightning seemed to illuminate the bodies lying so still in the boat.
Charles felt the wailing sound building long before it seemed to reach his mouth. He reached out for Rachel even as he felt his legs giving way. He fell to the sand, Rachel falling into his arms where she belonged. The wind started to howl and they felt the sea whipping itself into a frenzy. Energy visibly crackled the air around them. The tides rose and they could feel the water rising. Charles stumbled to his feet, still not believing. He grabbed Rachel, trying to pull her up. She was weeping silently, willingly following him without a word of protest.
He somehow managed to pull them to shore. Panting and heaving, he turned to Rachel and pulled her to him. She had her arms wrapped around his neck, kissing him, sobbing and holding him. They hung onto each other, not understanding completely, but knowing this was the end. The storm raged about them and they took refuge in each other, ignoring the thunder, ignoring the blinding flashes of lightning. They didn’t even pay any attention to the ocean before them, rising to new heights as if they were being pushed and pulled by an invisible hand.
They were lost in each other when the wave came.
The ocean broke out into a thunderous crash as though it was an enormous cloud, applauding the magic of life and death. A wave that they didn’t see coming washed over them as they sat wrapped tightly in each other’s embrace once again.
Until they were no more.
The sea stilled again.
The sky became cloudless and serene once more, revealing an empty beach as far as the eye could see.
A beeping noise, confusion and voices were the first thing she heard. She didn’t comprehend, not yet. She wasn’t ready to understand any of it. She heard crying, “Richard! It’s a girl! A girl!!!”
“No boy this time? Well damn.”
“Richard!” The voice was obviously teasing.
“Okay, okay, so we have a daughter? We hadn’t planned on a girl. What are we going to name her?”
She felt herself being lifted and looking into loving eyes. She blinked and tried to tell them, her name was Rachel, but all that came out was a whimper.
The eyes looking into hers blinked in confusion, “Richard… I think her name is Rachel.”
“Oh my god! She smiled! Jenny, she smiled right at you!” She felt an enormous pair of hands picking her up and found herself looking into another dark, bearded face, “Well hi there Rachel… I’m your daddy.” And he brought her close and she felt nothing but love.
As the voices around her continued, the memories of the island, of the little house, of the war… they all faded away. She heard a small baby start to cry and she realized for just a second, before the awareness faded, that the baby was her.
And down the hall came a mom being wheeled out of the hospital, “Listen Charles, I am not an invalid, I just had a baby. I want to walk.”
“Honey, it’s hospital policy. You have to be in a wheelchair. Just enjoy the ride, our little Charles is probably going to keep you busy for the next while. You might not get a break again anytime soon.” He squeezed her hand with love in his eyes and wheeled his brand new little family out into the sunshine.