The One Time I Ever Went Outside

It was fine. It really was completely okay. Truly, it wasn’t that bad. Yes, the ship had crashed here, and yes, everyone else was dead, and sure, my leg may or may not have been broken. But I hadn’t liked that ship anyways! And I really had been wanting some downtime, some alone time, and my leg only hurt on the lesser range of a lot. I nodded and kept telling myself this as I stood out on the beach, favoring my left leg because my right one was Probably Not Broken, and stared out at the ocean. The endless expanse of water, reaching out farther than I could see, completely empty. I was utterly alone. But the ship was burning dramatically a few hundred feet away, so, hey, at least I wasn’t cold.

I hadn’t even really needed to be on that ship in the first place. I was sailing across the vast ocean-blue as a favor to this author friend of mine. She lived in India, and air travel terrified me, so I took a boat over to go and review her newest manuscript. Don’t ask me why she couldn’t email it over (my best guess was that she simply wanted to see me in person). Titled “A Treatise on the Absorbency of Asia and Oceania”, I’m sure you can guess what it was about. It was sub-par. But I was on my way back home when something happened in the engine and the whole ship exploded, wouldn’t you know it, leaving me on this here island.

It was a beautiful island, don’t get me wrong, but that only led to the assertion that it was entirely uninhabited (by humans, at least), and that I was, in every sense, alone.

It really was a beautiful island.

I wasn’t sure how long I spent gazing out at the ocean, but it was enough time for the boat to sizzle and fizzle and collapse entirely into the shoreline water, only a charred mast or two remaining above the surface. The fire was out, which meant I was cold, and, come to think of it, quite parched. But everything was just fine. I hadn’t been a Boy Scout in middle school for Nothing.

With a grimace, I shifted my position and looked around me, then started for the trees, the trees that lined the beach about a hundred feet back from the shore, bright green and definitely hiding something. I winced with every step on my Probably Not Broken leg. Trees scared me. So did dirt and nature and frogs and whatever it was that just slithered past my foot, but hey! that’s why I was a newspaper journalist and never went outside. Except for now. In all honesty, middle school was the absolute worst time of my life and I had no clue what I was doing here. Also, it was getting dark and all the flashlights had burned with the ship. My positive outlook on the situation was slowly decreasing as I got more and more lost within the copse of vicious trees.

In such a situation as this, I had always imagined myself marching along through the trees and the dirt and the nature, with a machete swinging from one hip and an adventurous gleam in my eye. I was currently not so much marching as I was toppling, and that gleam in my eye wasn’t adventure, but tears.

I stumbled for so long (I hadn’t a clue as to what other options I had) that I eventually stumbled myself right down a hole. It was a good hole, solid and rocky, none of that mushy, muddy crap normally associated with jungle-holes. It was more like a cave, actually. A damp, deep, dark, vertically-facing cave-hole.

When I hit the ground, I both heard and felt something crunch, and my Probably Not Broken leg suddenly became Undeniably Shattered. My Oscar-worthy scream of agony echoed around the cave-hole, and that was far too loud, so I stopped screaming and instead just breathed. It was fine. Everything was under control. I could forge a lasso out of my body hair and hook it around a strong tree branch. Or I could use my teeth and fingernails to create foot/hand holds in the stone! Or maybe I could jump to the top of the hole using my 5th grade basketball skills and haul myself over the edge!


Or maybe I could cry, and try to get someone’s, anyone’s, attention.

“I don’t mean to be a bother, but if anyone is up there, it’d be real swell-” I shifted and sent a burst of pain through my leg and a wave of nausea through my organs, thus causing me to gasp and cut my plea short. “I mean, I would really appreciate it if you could help me! Please! Anyone?”

I thought maybe perhaps something would be out there, some kind of organism with a high enough cognitive function to comprehend my situation. There wasn’t. Turns out, nothing had changed since last checking in, and I was still entirely alone, imagine that. But you know what, it was fine. Perfectly fine. Totally okay.

laura caldwell

Laura is a writer who likes most things and people except for things and people she doesn’t. Any type of nonfiction falls under the second category. Not terrible music falls under the first.


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