The quiet days of summer on the island were peaceful and even though I had Jade to keep me busy with a schedule, every moment had no real sense of time. Not wanting to be cooped up in the barn, I spent part of the days around the waterfall with Jade in my arms, loving the sweet baby smell and her cute little ways even when she was sleeping. I had to admit I was content with life and looked forward to all the changes that would be coming next. Before I knew it, Jade would be walking, talking, learning and living on the island.
When my time wasn’t focused on Jade, I was busy making plans in my head. Living on an island and being completely self sufficient were more than foreign to me, and here I was truly alone. For I had no way to make contact with the outside world for help. When the ship left, so went the satellite which gave us the ability to use a phone or the internet. Not to mention I had no source of hydro as well. I felt like I had walked backwards in time to the pioneer days and I was scared, more than I cared to admit. At times I was overwhelmed with all I had yet to do, things I had to learn. Yet learn I must, if our lives on the island were going to be successful. As much as I wished Jin was here to help me, I had not grown up relying on a man, so why should I expect to now? “I’m smart, I’m more than capable and really, I have absolutely no choice in the matter.” Whenever needed, that was my mantra and trust me, I pulled that out often.
Decisions had to be made and fast if I was going to be well set up for the coming winter. First things first, the ability to grow food all year long was greatly needed, but how to accomplish that was the question. The boat had a perfect set up, almost like a revised green house, but it wasn’t like I could start tearing off the roof of the barn to do the same. It had to be built on the ground and someplace easily accessible at all times. I must have walked around that barn a hundred times before deciding to build it off the back. Just three walls and a roof-how hard could that really be? With no internet to look up plans I spent much time sitting at the beach kitchen counter. I poured over handiness books and drew plans, measuring and re-measuring till I had something reasonable that would work. When it was done, it was no great work of art, but it was sturdy enough as long as no grand winds came through with a storm. My only hope was that by building it off the back of the barn, it would be well protected by the hills on either side.. A few days later after the soil had been worked and worked, I began replanting some of the seeds from the plants on the boat. I would have given anything to bring the actual plants down, but it simply wasn’t possible. I did have enough seeds to do one full planting, five of each plant with the hope that at least one would survive. Some of the plants weren’t exactly practical, such as onions and potatoes. But I did have seeds to grow some fruits and lettuce. I also had many different varieties of grapes, which Jin and I had brought back from France. I was holding on to those until later as they weren’t as important as main foods.
Maya’s gardening instructions played in my head and I relived those moments with her as if they were as real as when they happened. Keeping Maya alive in this fashion gave me the strength to carry on everyday. It was important, for Jade would never know her mother and I didn’t want to forget any tiny detail that could be passed on to her. To give her a sense of who she came from. It was personally important, for I knew how even the smallest of detail would be precious knowledge. I only wish that someone had been able to do it for me.
I finished tending to the plants by watering them with the water from the ocean. “The water from the ocean is rich in fish fertilizers,” Maya had said. “It’s the best fertilizer you can ever use on a plant and you will be surprised at how well the plants will grow because of it.” My only hope was that “grow well” also meant fast, for the summer days were soon coming to an end and food was going to be a struggle until the plants began producing. I stood back and admired my work, mentally giving myself a small pat on the back. It had been hard and I certainly had the cuts, blisters and bruises to prove it. Yet here I started a legacy of sorts; something to pass on to Jade that she could hopefully someday pass on to her children. A way of life, a way to survive and all was good in the sim world that day.
Cooking without hydro was another thing I had to learn. I had done plenty of cooking before, but my abilities were limited to: waffles, peanut butter/jelly sandwiches, hot dogs and pizza done in the microwave or simple noodle recipes. I had never in my life cooked on a barbecue before, let alone lit one to heat. I was scared to do it, but without an oven to cook from, I couldn’t live on bread and jam in storage forever. It actually wasn’t at hard as I thought it was going to be and I figured out a serving of hot dogs lasted me over a week of meals. I had enough hot dogs in storage to last a couple months if I only ate one meal per day of either lunch of supper. Hopefully by then, if I was lucky, I would have a well producing garden. My next goal was to figure out how to cook eggs on the barbecue. I wasn’t looking forward to that at all. Otherwise what was I to do with all those eggs each morning? I only wish I also had a cow for milk
Next to Jade, Sophie was a great comfort on the island. She demanded just as much attention as did Jade and I tried to give her all the love she was missing from her family. I worked really hard not to dwell on why Jin had not returned home, but the one thing I couldn’t understand was why Jin had so easily forgotten Sophie. I know he cared for her greatly and no matter what had happened for him to have so easily forgotten his love for me, I just couldn’t understand why he hadn’t come back for her. She was incredibly sweet, very protective and I felt safer on the island with Sophie there. She wasn’t big enough to take down any large bad guy, but she had enough gumption to try and at least she made a very good alarm system to notify me of any trouble ahead of time. Which I can tell you was something I was completely grateful of, especially at night when the deer went in and out of the barn door. I was sure what they were trying to do was find a way to get at the plants in my little green house but couldn’t understand that the outcome didn’t change every time they tried.
I spent the first month sleeping with one eye open, jolted awake every time I heard the barn door slide on the track; which was at least 20 times a night. I eventually became used to the sound and left the job to Sophie to sleep with one ear open for protection.
The summer went by with not much excitement. As a young baby, Jade seemed to want to sleep all hours of the day, then wake often thru the night. I was desperate for a good night sleep and found I had gotten very good at functioning while still being half asleep. I guessed that was normal for new parents, although I had no experience with babies, so I was just winging like… everything. By the time she was three months old, I had pretty much reached my limit for lack of sleep. So I focused on keeping her awake during the day, in hopes that she would start sleeping through the night. Which of course meant taking her everywhere I went and including her in everything I did. I wondered if her sleep problem was a lack of light in her day, since I had been so busy getting everything on the island setup. She had spent more time inside in her crib. So I began keeping her outside more, exploring the island and giving all my attention to Jade.
She seemed to really like the beach on her play mat. She would coo and gurgle away in complete happiness. During those times I was able to catch up on skills reading. I was able to keep her awake till about four in the afternoon before she zonked out. That of course meant I was still up several times in the middle of the night. So I decided to give her a two hour nap in the afternoon. I was so happy for those nap times, and have some time alone! I played basketball, swam in the ocean and laid out on the beach. I did have minor panic attacks during those time, like I was missing something important or left something behind somewhere. Jade had become like a third arm to me, so when I was away from her, I felt relieved and lonely at the same time. I eventually got used to it, mostly.
To help relax her before bed, I added bath time to her routine. Within three days, I had finally accomplished my goal of getting her to sleep through the night.
That first full night sleep, I woke up early and scrubbed the floor from all that sand and mud we were constantly tracking in with us. Plus I was able to get in a breakfast before she finally stirred. I was so happy to see her and I praised her for doing a good job by letting me sleep.
“I love you, Jade! Mama Sun is so proud of you!”
I even managed to get in a bit of a yoga workout before going outside. Jade thought the moves were just for her entertainment, and I played with her doing things like rubbing my head into her stomach, making her laugh.Which brought me to giggles and very effectively ended my workout for that day!
My only complaint about being on the island was the lack of people to talk to. I know it could be worse and I could be completely alone, but Jade and Sophie weren’t great “conversationalists”. Imagine what Sophie would have to say, if she could talk! Makes me laugh every time I think of it. But lack of conversation is a loneliness in it’s own way and I began looking for different company in the strangest of places. Charles the chicken was fun to talk to but mostly he just tossed his head in the air and threw his tail in my face before stomping away.
I know the sunflower isn’t alive but who could resist that happy face? And he was a good dancer…for a plastic sunflower.
I gave it my best shot with Meeko, but I suffered more bitten fingers than any kind of success
I wasn’t the only one looking for more company. Sophie had literally started hounding Meeko to play with her. With her sweet demeanor, Sophie just didn’t understand that Meeko’s reactions were not friendly. I really worried she was going to get hurt by him and tried to discourage her from approaching him. However, one night Sophie came to my defense when Meeko backed me up against the barn. I had spent night after night cleaning up garbage from a tipped over can and I had just had enough. As I was righting the can again, Meeko approached and I started to yell at him. When he bared his teeth at me and started spitting, Sophie jumped in between us. After that night, I moved the can inside the barn and Meeko never seemed to bother it again. But I’m telling you, I had more than one unkind thought about tossing that animal off the side of the island into deep water. Not that I would ever do it though. Yet the thought was still tempting!
Summer ended and Fall rolled in keeping the warm temperatures. We continued to spend a lot of our time outside and I was still wearing all my same summer outfits. Winter was a foreign season to me and I worried how cold it would really get, let alone how we would stay warm. Most of the plants in the green house had grown to full height, but not all were producing. The onions were but I couldn’t see myself sitting down to chomp on an onion, no matter how hungry I was! I worried whether the plants would keep producing during Fall and Winter. On the boat, the greenhouse was heated by a fire box, but I had no way to do that here and this island especially wasn’t known for its sun to heat the room naturally. Only time would tell and until then I would cross my fingers and give some more thought to rationing my food.
Two weeks into the fall season, the leaves had begun to fall from the trees and the air began to cool a bit, forcing me to change out all my summer shorts for pants. Ian’s apple tree gave me a final crop and the berry plants finally gave me some raspberries and strawberries. In all, the plants still looked fairly healthy without any signs of going into hibernation and I was very thankful. Later that night, I was heading to the washroom across the beach before bed and I noticed how strange the sky looked. So after using the washroom, I pulled out my camera to take a picture. It almost reminded me of the lights we would see above the town in France and with that thought I began to wonder just where I was. Was I closer to land than I thought? I went to bed that night once again berating myself for not asking more questions of the Bell family. For putting myself in a situation when I am left helpless, no way to get help if needed, no way to leave the island and no way to protect Jade either. What if something happened to me and she was left all alone? My mind started thinking of all the things I would need to teach Jade as she got older, in the event she was ever left alone. Sleep that night was fitful and I woke with a heavy heart.
Jade was already awake before I woke up, but my bladder was too full to stop and feed her so I took her down to the play mat on the beach and dashed over to the washroom.
Before I finished, I could hear Jade’s screams and when I opened the bathroom door, I realized it had started to hail! By the time I scooped up Jade and made it inside the barn, we were both soaked through.
I quickly changed her into dry clothes and fed her a bottle while a puddle formed at my feet, dripping from my pajamas. The hail continued to fall in large balls the size of golf balls for the rest of the day. I was trapped inside the barn unable to reach the beach kitchen and get my already cooked food from storage. I spent the day playing with Jade and Sophie to keep my mind off my gnawing hunger, but eventually my bladder could not be ignored. There was no way I could make it across the beach to the toilet and I didn’t know what to do. I thought about digging a hole in the barn floor, but I worried the barn would stink afterwards. Pacing the lower barn floor I tried to figure out what to do. I decided to sacrifice one of my pails to use as a chamber pot of sorts. I brought it upstairs and happily emptied my very sore bladder! I don’t think I have ever been so happy to finally be able to go pee! However I went to bed that night, hungrier than I had ever been in my life.
The next morning, the hail persisted and continued for the rest of the day. In desperation to fill my tummy, I headed down to the garden to find what I could harvest and eat. But as I had just harvested the day before the hail began, all I could find was one lousy onion. I stared at that onion willing myself to find the courage to eat it. Something in my stomach was better than nothing right? So I took a big breath, plugged my nose and ate it. For the rest of the day, that onion burned my stomach like I had swallowed a lit match. Never would I do that again. On the morning of the fourth day, the hail stopped but then it was two weeks straight of rain. Non stop rain for 14 days with me living on an apple here or a tomato there. Whatever I could get my hands on to eat, I did. Except those onions. Never would I do that again.
One night I was rocking Jade, when I looked outside to see this eerie pink glow to the sky. At first I thought I must be delusional from lack of food, but after rubbing my eyes the sky remained this grey/pinky mauve colour. Even though day had long turned to night, outside, it was bright like a cloudy day and everything was clearly visible to the eye. I began to hear animal noises, some like wolves and others like owls, which raised the hairs on the back of my neck. The deer were darting around on the island as if they were running away from some threat, with their noses in the air as if they were sniffing for danger. The I saw the most shocking thing…so to speak!
The more I watched the island, the more I saw and as frightened as I was, something in my memory was telling me this was all familiar. Glancing at the book shelf, I realized I was right. Ian had written a best selling book called? You guessed it The Pink Full Moon! Could it be that the book was based on the actual pink moon here on the island? I was more intrigued than ever and after I put Jade to bed, I pulled the book from the shelf to read it. I foolishly stayed up all night but I could not put it down, it was that good! The next morning on my dash to the washroom, I noticed this by the sandbox that hadn’t been there before. I wondered what else I would find on the island once the rain stopped….if it ever stopped!
Sophie wasn’t doing very well being cooped up in the barn and I began to see behaviour I had never seen before. For starters, she had taken to ripping apart newspapers. It may seem silly, but I had saved some of the last newspapers to keep around and read so I wouldn’t seem so disjointed from the world. Sophie, who had always been our newspaper fetcher, had all of a sudden become destroyer of all things news. No matter where I hid them, she would find them and just tear them to shreds. She had also begun growling and barking at the plants. At first it kind of freaked me out, because it started right after the pink sky night. But I had given those plants a thorough inspection and couldn’t find anything wrong with them. Last, she had begun to dig holes all around the yard. It was as if she had forgotten all her training and I didn’t know what to do. The only thing I could say was at least she still chose to go out in the rain to do her business. If that started, she was going to hear about it from me!
The morning of the fifteenth day, I finally woke to no rain, but the air was foggy and the sky had taken on an orange hue I had never seen before. I hoped that meant warmer weather for the day, as somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered one of my mom’s saying that to me once. The sky was gorgeous to say the least. I made a mad dash to the washroom, then filled my tummy with FOOD! Oh I ate so much I was totally stuffed! By one in the afternoon it was warm enough to bring Jade outside and I laid her on the mat to play while I enjoyed the hot sun.
The air still had a bit of a chill to it, as the temp had only made it to 17C, but the sun was wonderful! Fall wasn’t turning out to be too bad on the island. Okay yes three days of hail was not so good but other than that I had nothing really to complain about.
One of life’s lessons is knowing when to keep your mouth shut in fear of tempting fate. For the next morning we woke to very damp air that also had a chill to it that seeped deep into your bones. Every day the temperature dropped lower and lower while the dampness never went away. I had switched Jade to her warmest clothes I could find and began walking around in my winter clothes just to stay warm. Jade spent most of her time snuggled up against me, but still she fussed. At night I had moved her to sleep in my bed under the covers hoping my body would help to keep her warm. But with all the dampness in the barn, sleep was fitful for both of us and Jade just became more and more cranky from a lack of good sleep. Out of desperation I decided to try and sleep outside in the tent. I know that doesn’t really make sense but here is what I did.I put the tent in between the barbecue and the island the keep it protected from the winds. Then I surrounded it with all the torches from the island. Lastly I moved the fire pit in front of the zippered door to the tent. That night Jade and I sat in front of the fire and finally felt warm. Sleeping in the tent wasn’t like sleeping in a house heated by a fireplace or furnace, but at least we weren’t sleeping under damp blankets either. The sleeping bags kept us warm. We slept like that for four nights until the barn “dried out” of sorts. However I did get to worrying more. How were we going to survive the cold of winter if it was already this cold? Oh and before I forget to tell you, the little gnome guy had completely disappeared too.
Just before winter began, I decided to cheer myself up and take one of the pumpkins I had grown to make a jack-o-lantern. I did this silly face carving and placed it on the coffee table with a candle inside.
I thought considering it was my first carving that I hadn’t done too badly.
A couple days later, winter began. I was just finishing up eating something when it took me by surprise. I had never seen snow before and it startled me at first, until I realized what it was. I looked to the sky and saw white as the flakes fell into my eyes.
I began to laugh at the silliness of it. But it sure was cold! Jade and I found ourselves right back in the same problem as before. Without any heat, it was just too dang cold to sleep. I was grumpy, she was miserable and I didn’t know what to do. Just five days I kept telling myself. Jin had said winter only lasted five days on the island. It had already been three.
First thing I thought to do was prevent that barn door from opening and closing with the deer coming in and out. So I shoved a few large items in front of the door outside. I really wish I had thought to do that before! Upstairs I turned the bed and tried to create a draft barrier with all that at I had. I used every candle I could find and surrounded us with them. I knew it was risky, but I was at a loss what else to do. It helped a bit, but Jade would start all cozy under the blankets, then wiggle her way out, waking me up with her screams because she was cold. I was hungry, tired, miserable and I was starting to smell bad too. I laid there listening to Jade sleep in short intervals and thought about how excited I was to come here with Jin. I couldn’t wait to be his wife and start a new life with a new family. I could not believe how things had gone so wrong. How did I make such poor choices? I was usually so spot on in my perceptions. Why? Why did he leave me here like this, all alone and struggling like this? Some small part of me held out in my beliefs that he was the person I met in France. But he didn’t come home when his mother died. What kind of son does that? Wasn’t he wondering why he hadn’t heard from his father…or from me even?
I was feeling quite weepy at this point and I knew that was mostly because I was so exhausted, but I couldn’t help it. I did cry then. I blamed Jin for the mess I was in and for every terrible thing I was having to endure. I didn’t know if I would ever forgive him. Right then I made a vow that if I ever got the opportunity to get off this island I would. I would take his sister and disappear. He would never find her or me for that matter.
“I’m sorry Ian. I know I made a promise to you and I will keep that promise always. But from now on, I’m looking out for me and Jade. No one else. I hope you can forgive me.”
The tears had worn me out and I fell into a deep sleep then, not even waking when Jade stirred.
I was dreaming and in my dream I was so cold. I could hear crying in the background, but I lacked the ability to move. I felt like I was being frozen on the spot into a ‘Sun’ statue. I had no energy to fight what was happening to me and all I wanted to do was just surrender to the sleep that was washing over me from my head down. The screaming became louder and in my mind I began to wonder about that screaming. Where was it coming from? “Wake up Sun,” I heard someone say to me. “Wake up, she needs you.”
“I’m too tired,” I responded back. “Make it stop.”
“Wake up Sun, she needs you.” Then I felt as if I was being shaken by the shoulder, which continued getting more urgent. I startled awake to the sound of Jade’s terrified screams. I felt horrible, for she must have been crying for some time to have become so upset. I quickly gathered her in my arms under the blankets and popped a bottle in her mouth. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I thought to the dream and the shaking. It felt so real, like I could still feel the hand print on my shoulder where I was being touched. Had it been real, or just a dream?
Five days passed and the storm wasn’t showing any signs of stopping. The snow had gotten so deep that it had risen to Sophie’s shoulders and she was struggling to get around the island. She loved the snow and spent hours outside playing in the cold white stuff before I called her to come in. We couldn’t go on like this. I worried that Jade may get sick and what would I do then? We needed heat, but the only sources of heat on the island, were the candles which I had tried, the barbecue which was too heavy to move and the fire pit. But bringing the fire pit inside was dangerous. What if I burnt down the barn? What would I do then? I paced the floor weighing my options and decided I didn’t have a choice. I dragged the fire pit inside and surrounded it with some rocks from the side of the barn. I pushed all the furniture and such as far away as I could, but moved the metal bunk bed closer to the heat. Jade and I would need somewhere to sit or sleep if this worked. Please please please let this work. Lifting my eyes to the sky, I said a prayer and lit the fire. After half hour I brought Jade down to sit by the fire. I remembered to crack open the door to the greenhouse to provide some fresh air. It was full of drafts anyway and it was better than propping open the big barn door. Jade and I were so exhausted that I laid back on the bed in order to let her sleep. But my plan back fired and I too fell asleep. Together we slept a good five hours and when we woke up, the heat had risen to the upstairs warming up that space as well. I put out the fire, took Jade upstairs to feed her and let her play on the mat. She had been in my arms so much the past five days, I welcomed having my body to myself. Plus moving all those heavy rocks had hurt my arms and back, but I was so happy I had risked it in the end. Shelter, water, food and warmth-that was all I asked at this point. Oh and health. Definitely health.
Well, maybe one more thing:
Bring on SPRING!
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