Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Today's muse: Seven Days Seven Answers
Checklist: A list of words will be accompanied by a scenario in which to use them.
Words and scenario: You are stranded on an island with only the following: spoon, ukulele, yarn, hand sanitizer, feather boa
* * *
For weeks the sun has risen into a cloudless sky, burning everything in its path. I sit by the water’s edge, scrunching my toes in the sand, as I watch the orange orb dip into the ocean.
The island is thick with vegetation, but not animal life. Except for that one thing that keeps rustling in the dense brush when the sun goes down. I am quite sure it is tall—taller than me, at least—as the golden orbs that peer out at me are much higher than my shoulder. He hasn’t attempted to communicate, nor have I. We seem to have an unspoken understanding, the Beast and I. I will live on the open beach, sheltered by the broken fuselage that has washed ashore, and he will stay hidden in the dense jungle that consumes most of this tiny mass of land.
With an oversized serving spoon salvaged from the 747’s kitchenette, I scoop ash from last night’s fire, making a crevice for the flat rock I use for cooking. Dried wood is steepled around it and I light the miniature pyre to heat the rock to an angry red.
Well away from the tide, the other odds and ends that washed up on shore are lined up like an open-air market. Too bad there are no buyers.
As the roaring fire dies down, I set the filleted fish on the rock and it gives off a satisfying sizzle. It smells good and my mouth waters in anticipation.
I hear a rustle in the foliage and squint to peer through the darkness. I know the Beast watches, but turn back to my cooking, confident that he will go back to his side of the island and not bother me.
I assume far too much.
He walks to the opposite side of the fire, his footsteps silent on the pale sand, and crouches down, bringing his face level with mine.
Expecting a hideous creature that will devour me, I’m surprised that the man before me is quite handsome. His skin is dark, baked to perfection by the tropical sun. His sun-bleached hair is long and tied back with a paisley necktie. The growth around his chin, though undisciplined, adds a ruggedness to his features. I recognize the designer suit he wears, though I’m sure the pants were never meant to be hacked off at the knees and he should be wearing a shirt beneath the tailored jacket. Then again, the sinewy muscles that ripple across his body wouldn’t be visible. A bow tie is centred around his throat, giving him the distinct look of a Chippendale dancer.
It occurs to me that he could still devour me, though I’m quite certain I won’t mind.
“I thought I should dress for dinner,” he says, by way of explanation, looking down at his modified attire. I nod, not trusting my voice to be steady. “Seeing as you went to so much trouble.” He gestures at the fillet that continues to sizzle.
I rise, self conscious in my worn shorts and meagre t-shirt.
“I’ll be right back.”
In the fuselage, I sift through clothing rescued from the crash, rummaging through folded piles stacked in the overhead compartments, like an enormous walk-in closet. I recall the beautiful tranny that sat in 23B, who had great legs and a killer outfit.
Letting out a cry of triumph as I spy the red silk dress, I pull it out and slip it over my head. Without a mirror, I can’t be sure how it looks, but I can tell the fabric clings in all the right places. Standing on my toes, I scan the bin and see the pink feathers peaking between the Airline’s bright blue flannel blankets. Jackpot! I hang the feather boa around my shoulders and saunter back to the fire.
I note that the Beast—he is still a beast, though of a different calibre now—has taken the liberty of shopping at my makeshift flea market. He sits cross-legged, strumming a ukulele that I know was left to dry in the sun. One of the strings is broken, but he manages to seduce a melody from the small instrument.
He glances up at me and smiles. “Love the outfit.”
I fling one end of the boa over my left shoulder. “What? This old thing?”
After dinner, he tells me how he came to be on this island, spinning a tragic yarn of sinking ships and drowning loved ones. His golden eyes bore into me the entire time, never looking away. I’m overwhelmed by his stoic behaviour and I tell him that I’m impressed with this bravery.
He shrugs, dismissing my praise. “Let’s eat,” he says, changing the subject.
“Are you still hungry?” I jump up, my mind already spinning, concocting a special meal just for the Beast.
“Honey,” he whispers, “it’s time for lunch.”
I glance down at my bare wrist. How does he know what time it is? Besides, the sun went down hours ago. It must be at least ten o’clock.
I look back up at him and the sun pierces my eyes, a sharp jab in the middle of my forehead. Pale blue eyes peer down at me, frowning with concern.
I close my eyes again. Not that I don’t want to see my husband’s clean-shaven face, pinking from too much sun. But I want to melt back into that spell and curl up with the Beast. Just for a few moments.
I hear a lid snap open and he pours hand sanitizer into my hands.
“Wash up,” he says.
“I’m not hungry,” I mutter, as I rub the liquid over my hands. The smell of alcohol mixes with chlorine and coconut.
I lay back down on the recliner and recall a crackling fire, a starlit night and the lustful promise of a god-like stranger.
“I just ate.”