The Man and the Island

by Kaili Tseng


Many, many years ago, before the heat of flame, there was one man. Water burbled in greeting as he walked by, the wind sang joyously as he slept, and light danced across his fingertips when he ate. The elements were his companions, and the beasts his pets. Palm trees dripping with swollen coconuts populated the island on which he lived, and the ocean around him teemed with a variety of colorful fish.


But even in his paradise, the man felt lonely and trapped. The island was a prison and his solitude a punishment. He had nothing to do every day but eat, drink, sleep, and repeat. This daily ritual became something he came to dread every sunrise when he rose. So, one day, this man went in pursuit of more. Coconut trees were sacrificed for logs, reeds for rope and baskets. He brought with him food and water and set sail.


He sailed for half a day. That afternoon, however, a storm rocked his delicate boat. He turned around to go back to the island, regretting his poor decision, but the island had simply disappeared. Desperate, the man called out to the wind to speed his journey, the water to grant him safe travel, and the light to show him the way. But nothing answered. He had abandoned them, and so they had abandoned him. He had no choice but to continue.


For three days and three nights, he continued to sail, clinging onto the remaining strands of hope that he would arrive somewhere. Storms continued to batter and shove at the boat, and his food supply dwindled. On the fourth morning, he had no choice but to acknowledge that he would perish here on the merciless sea.


Just then, an entire island seemed to rise out of the sea. The man sobbed in relief as he remembered the land, the one friend he had neglected all this time, had come to help him. To gift him this one last kindness. The man gingerly entered the island, as if it would disappear at any time. There he found a small village of people that welcomed him as their own.


And so, the man lived with this group of people, working with them, and as the village grew, they split into many tribes. Conflict arose between them, and war ensued. Problems came up, and people killed in an attempt to solve them, but it only resulted in more difficulties.


The man found a way to carve the good out of all this, but sometimes he wondered what would have happened if he had just stayed on his perfect island and never left...