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I lay on the beach, letting my body press into the sand as I stared up at the stars. I was done with my tasks for the day and I had some precious free time. Simply surviving took most of my life, ironically enough. I had been stranded on this island for a few years now, and this long after the plane crash things were finally starting to feel normal. Well, as normal as a sixteen-year-old stranded on a deserted –but not desert- island by herself could be. I thought things could never be normal again, what with my family dead and my only friends being- well- not exactly human. But strangely enough, I was settling into the pattern of life here, as simple as the in and out of the tides. My pitiful attempt to survive was reflected a hundred-fold in the stars, those uncompassionate spheres of gas in the velvet midnight sky, those pinpricks of light that we humans dared to name and group in an effort not to feel so low, so below their majesty. These thoughts hadn’t occurred to me until I got here; if I hadn’t I suppose I would’ve spent the rest of my life living in a bubble with my school and my manga and my air headed friends. The stars, so far away, seemed to mock me gently, why presume to live? Everyone else died, you were just a fluke in the plan. There is no greater reason you were saved, so why continue to live? Why eke out a painful living when you can have a peaceful death?
“Because,” I whispered to the stars, “as long as there is life there is hope. It is a vain hope, perhaps, but a hope never the less. I must keep living, if for no other reason then that my family could not. I am living for them. And you, with your emotionless eyes, cannot feel this. I am not sure whether that is a blessing or a curse,” I laughed harshly, “to feel. To feel pain, love, heartbreak. Joy, depression, the sand beneath me. A blessing it can be, a curse it surely is, but one I must bear.” With my confession over, I sat upright and walked slowly back to my little hut, longing to fall into sleep’s dark embrace. I entered the hut and, sighing, curled up in a corner. Haruhi leapt through the window silently and lay down in front of me.
“Mrrrr,” she rumbled, a cat’s purr sounding ridiculous in her panther’s chest. The force of it nearly shook me, and for the first time in a long while, a smile crept across my face as I drifted into sleep.
I awoke to a rosy dawn and stretched, luxuriating in the warmness in my muscles. Ever since I had been- I forced myself to think the word- stranded, I got a lot fitter than I was before. I had never had the drive to stick to a normal exercise routine, and apart from gym classes at school and Tae Kwon Do three times a week I lazed around most of the time. Now I was fitter, faster, and my instincts were- however cliché it sounded- honed. I trotted over to the forest, ducking under an overhanging, moss-strewn, branch and into a different world. Birds- migrating, I guessed- chirped as smaller mammals rustled through the underbrush. This was where I found fruit and meat to sustain me, as well as a conveniently placed freshwater spring.
“Come on,” I mumbled to myself, “where’d that bush go?” A few days ago I had found a bush with berries that actually tasted decent, and I was trying to find it again. All of the sudden, the roar of a helicopter shattered the silence. I dashed back to the beach, desperately trying to squelch the hope rising in my chest. It’s not a rescue copter, I chanted; don’t get your hopes up. They’re just passing over; if they find you it’ll be a miracle. I didn’t think I could survive another mistaken rescue. Last time, I had nearly gone catatonic. But that was months ago, I reasoned, I’m stronger now.
“Hey,” a voice yelled as I reached the beach, “we’re here to rescue you!!” I stood speechless, shielding my eyes from the glare of the sun when I had a terrible premonition. I stumbled, and then ran away from the landing copter as it burst into flame. The force of the explosion sent me flying forward into a sand dune that protected me from the shrapnel. The fire exhausted itself in the sand as I crept towards it, praying vainly for any survivors.
“Unnnh,” someone moaned, and my heart jumped. Someone was alive, against all odds! I frantically dug him out from the collapsed sand dune/parachute mess he was trapped in. My best hypothesis was that he’d jumped out when I ran away, and miraculously landed safely. Or somewhat safely.
I dragged him away and into my hut, running out again to soak some rags in water so I could clean his wounds. Now that I’d finally gained a companion, I didn’t want to lose him from my carelessness. I stayed the whole day and part of that evening aiding him, working with a feverish desire to keep this man alive. I didn’t know his name, age (though I estimated around 20) or reason to be on the copter, but I wanted to save him anyways. Halfway through the night I collapsed as well, tired from my constant running, fetching and salvaging from the charred remnants of my rescue.
“Hey,” a voice rasped near my ear, “what happened?” I sat bolt upright, startled by the sudden wake up.
“Your helicopter blew up and everyone else died,” I replied roughly, unsure of how else to break the news.
“Jolly good then, that I’m the one who gets to be stranded with a cute duckie like you!” He winked, and I felt an overwhelming urge to slap him. Of course, I couldn’t do that, because that might hurt him more than it did me good.
“I would suggest you shut up, before I hit you,” I rejoined evenly.
“You’re a girl,” he scoffed, “you couldn’t hurt me.”
“A helicopter’s an inanimate object,” I scowled, “and it hurt you pretty badly.”
“Touché.” He sighed, staring at the shore. “I don’t suppose any other rescue crews are scheduled to land here soon?”
“Sorry, not any that I know of.” I stuck my head out the window to check for Haruhi. Not there. “You’re stuck with me.”
“Well, not so bad.” He grinned, and I felt my heart loosen. I could be stuck with worse.
Maybe this wasn’t so bad after all.