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First 24 Hours Alone On The Island

The first thing that hit me was the smell. Even before I opened my eyes, I knew where I was. The tantalizing scent of washed-up waves and bananas all rolled into one. I felt the millions of grains of sand, hot against my fingers and the cool breeze against my face, – a relief from the sweltering sun. I heard the sea crawling onto the sand and, further away, the same monster dashing against the rocks. As I opened my mouth to take in a gulp of air, I tasted salt in my throat. Not the same taste as on Brighton Pier, when you look over into the sea, but a fresh, clean one, as if taking in pure oxygen. Only then, when my four other senses had taken in their share of my surroundings, did I allow me to open my eyes.

I was amazed at how easily fantasy and reality intertwined at that moment. It was like continuing a dream after waking up. As I lifted my eyelids, as the barrier between my imagination and actuality was removed, the accuracy of my prediction astounded me. As I sat up and looked around, I realized that I must have been asleep for a long time, as my sopping wet clothes were completely dry. I could just see the island on which I had been staying, a strip of land on the contrasting horizon. The rubber dinghy, my means of travel, was almost flat now, having carried my body weight so far across the sea. This place, where I had ended up, was the best-case scenario. I didn’t really have any idea where I wanted to go, but anywhere was better than that resort. Do you know when you see holiday disaster programs on television about families who had to stay on a building site or put up with drunken neighbours?

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Well think of those and imagine it ten times worse. I hadn’t bargained for a brothel as an apartment building or Ibiza-style clubs, it was pretty much my idea of hell. When I let myself drift away on the inflatable, all I could think of was the peace and quiet of somewhere like this. It was only when I looked up that I realized how dark it was becoming. The sand had a more dull quality and the sea looked grey. I was aware of how much more happy and relaxed I was to be alone, and in a place like this! I set about looking for a good resting place and soon came across a shallow cave. I collected enough grass and leaves to line the floor and made a circle of rocks outside for a fire. I felt so excited as if I was on one of the school camps I used to go on when I was younger. After I had arranged the firewood into a wigwam-like formation, I fished my lighter out of my pocket. To my surprise and delight, a flame sprang up straight away and I attempted to light some of the smaller twigs.

I found it slightly ironic that my lighter worked after being wet for so long, but the wood from this boiling hot island was too damp to light. After several attempts, I coaxed a small blaze from the pile, which I fed until it got going properly. Then I lay on my back and gazed at the stars, “Swallows and Amazons” style until my campfire was down to its last orange embers. I folded my jumper into a pillow and lay down in my cave- bedroom. Soon I was drifting into the land which they call sleep, the land where nothing really matters. I don’t know whether I dreamed that night or not, but I knew that for the first time in my life, I was genuinely happy. The sun awakened me, beating down hot and yellow. My watch said 4:15, it obviously wasn’t waterproof! I stood up and wandered down to a large, smooth, flat rock by the water, a perfect diving board.

I stripped down to my underwear, took a deep breath and dived into the luxuriously cool water. I rose to the surface, spluttering. After regaining myself, a rush of sudden happiness took over my body. I splashed about, screaming and yelling, beating the water with my palms and turning somersaults in the water. I was ecstatic to be completely stress-free with nothing and no one to bother me. I could stay there as long as I liked, no one would miss me and no one would come looking for me. I had an overwhelming desire to discover everything about the island right then. Was there anyone living there? I hoped not, I came here to get away from civilization. Was it really an island? From what I could see, it was, but it could be part of a mainland. How big was it? I wanted to know all about it right now, so I clambered out of the water.

I started to make my way to the place where you could walk between the rocks and the sea, a little way from where I was originally washed up. I hummed to myself as I squeezed my way along the narrow path. Soon, the walkway became wider and an obvious path up over the rocks became clear. I started to scramble up, making sure I was still keeping close to the sea. What I saw at the top nearly made me jump out of my skin. A crater, it must have been 100 metres across, dominated the island. From my spot, I could see that apart from my little home area, this was the whole space. It really was the tiniest piece of free-standing land I had ever seen in my life. The crater must have come from the Second World War and I could see that at one end, a great deal of the cliff had collapsed into the sea.

Now that I had a good picture of what I inhabited, I headed back down to my camp. What I had seen shocked me, and led me to wonder whether any lives were lost when that bomb struck. It was obviously a significant island before, and it was probably assumed that all that was left was in ruins. I didn’t suppose that anyone had visited since and I doubted that it was on the map. I could have been the only person that knew about this place in the whole world, what a thought! I remembered my slightly uncomfortable sleep the night before and set about trying to construct some sort of hammock. I found several long branches, bend them into the right shape and secured them with thick grasses. I then found some large, plate-sized leaves which I placed over the holes.

I pulled the stuffing out of the coat that I no longer needed and arranged it on top. I secured the mattress with more big leaves pegged down with little twigs. I used my bootlaces to hang it with so it was with a great strain that it managed to take my weight. My construction was a darn sight more comfortable than the ground and I was quite proud of it. I settled down on my hammock to reflect on the day. I wasn’t worried about being stranded forever. One, there were regular ships that passed by, so if I really wanted to, I could make a smoke signal to be rescued. And two, I was having the time of my life and probably would stay for weeks, months, maybe even years to come. I was glad that I was the only one on this tiny island. It was no one else’s but mine and I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Maybe someday I would return home, but at that moment, I was perfectly happy where I was.

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First 24 Hours Alone On The Island. (2021, Apr 11). Retrieved May 9, 2021, from