Updated: Jun 3, 2019
The hot sun beating down on us and the sound of cars passing by seemed so foreign. We looked around, confused, squinting in the light. We were both dripping wet, and I was sprawled on the ground. My knee still felt like it was being stabbed.
“I’ll get help,” Drew jumped up and ran to my house.
The next hour was a blur, and I found myself in a hospital bed with Mom and Dad both standing over me. If I hadn’t been so miserable, I would’ve grinned at the irony. It only took my getting injured and giving up on life for them to suddenly care about me.
Drew was there too and didn’t want to leave. Mom sent him home though. She did try to get him to tell them what had happened. I have no idea what he told them. Before he left, he winked at me and told me that he’d taken care of it. They never asked me about it after that.
I had to wear a cast on my leg for a long time. Kaylee and her minions thought it was funny to see me try to get around with my crutches, but I didn’t give a crap. I was leaving soon, so it didn’t matter.
The first time I limped into school after my accident, Drew was waiting for me.
“You didn’t go back, did you?” was the first question he asked.
“Really? That’s the first thing you ask? Not how I am?” I acted offended, but I was just glad he was still willing to talk to me after what I put him through.
“You’re here, aren’t you? If you were dying, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now.” Clearly I had gotten all the sympathy I was ever going to get from him at the island.
“No, I haven’t gone back. But I want to,” I admitted.
“Come with me.” Drew helped me walk back outside and led me to the tree where I had first taken him to the island.
“What?” I asked him when he stopped.
“I need to talk to you about everything that’s been going on with you.”
I took a deep breath. “I’m sorry about dragging you there, even though you kind of just came along with me…”
Drew waved me off. “It’s whatever. I want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
“It won’t. It doesn’t storm like that usually… I don’t know why it was that bad. It used to be the most peaceful place ever. Like before Mom and Dad started fighting a lot, it was always sunny…”
Drew’s eyes lit up. “Grace. What if the island reflected your emotions?”
“No, that can’t be right.” I shook my head. “It’s the place I go to to get away from everything.”
“That’s not how things work,” Drew said. “You can’t just escape reality and think everything will be okay. Yeah, things happen and circumstances suck, but the real problem is inside.”
“You’re saying I’m the problem?” My voice rose, and I felt like I wanted to hit him.
“You aren’t perfect, Grace. You can’t blame everything bad on everyone else. Bad things happen to everyone. Remember when my mom died? I haven’t had the easiest life either.”
I hated it when he pulled the mom card. There was no way I could argue that.
Drew smiled faintly and shrugged. “But it’s not about what happens to you, it’s how you deal with that. You can either try to solve the problem, or if you can’t do that, you can just make the best of it. Or you can try to run away and take all your problems with you. Because they will follow you.”
I didn’t know what to say. Everything he said made sense, but I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to face my problems. My island had been the perfect place to go, but now it was being torn apart from the inside.
“When Mom died, it took me a long time to accept it. You know how long I lived in denial. But I had to come to grips with it to move on. It wasn’t the circumstance that changed, it was me.”
I sighed. My eyes were getting blurry. I didn’t want to cry again. “What can I do about my parents? I don’t want to move.”
“There’s not anything you can do,” Drew sighed too and he looked genuinely sad. “There’s a lot of good things that can come out of you moving though. You can have a fresh start, where people don’t know your past. You can be whoever you want to be.”
“I don’t want to leave you,” I whispered, and suddenly I was hugging him awkwardly. I wasn’t used to the cast and crutches.
He patted me on the back. “It’ll be okay. Let’s not worry about that ‘til the time comes. Just promise me you won’t try to escape again.”
“I’ll try not to,” I murmured. We let each other go and smiled at each other. I felt embarrassed for some reason.
It was the last day before we moved. All my stuff was packed into boxes, and I couldn’t find anything I needed in the mess. I just wanted to get there so I could get to things. My cast was finally off, and I could walk to Drew’s whenever I wanted. I was going to miss him.
I hadn’t been back to the island in weeks, not since my accident. Not that I hadn’t thought about it, but for some reason I’d been too scared to try. But tonight it seemed appropriate to say goodbye to it too.
I don’t want to be here.
I closed my eyes and braced myself to feel the strong wind and beating rain. But I didn’t feel anything.
I slowly opened my eyes. What I saw surprised me. The whole island was golden-pink. The sky was bright and the sun was about to set. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
I turned and saw the remains of my hard work-just a pile of wood and rotting debris. It actually was peaceful again.
I took a deep breath. Goodbye, island. I’m going to miss you.
As I disappeared one last time from my other world, I felt sad, like I’d lost something important. Maybe I’d come back someday.