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An Island This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "i was once on an island."

"what island? what was itlike?"

"it was a very small island off the coast of england.this island was beautiful. it had green fields for miles and blue water for milesmore. flowers of all colors were everywhere. brilliant shades of blues, reds,yellows, and oranges. quite spectacular, really. animals roamed free. cows,sheep, and horses lived in harmony with the natives. yet, i found the greatestbeauty in the natives."

"tell me what they looked like, grampa.i want to see them."

"well, when i first arrived i found theirdress quite odd. the men wore practically nothing. just a pair of very thinbritches. nothing else. the women's dress was close to the same. they also wore apair of thin, baggy britches, but they had the additional dress of a thin shirt.the shirt had no sleeves and showed their stomachs. i found it very indecent, yetthe longer i was on this island, the more i understood their dress. you see, itwas dreadfully hot. in these loose, thin garments the natives were verycomfortable in the heat."

"you mean that the women were dressedin their unmentionables! the men just allowed the women to dress in theirunmentionables? weren't the men strong enough to make the women wear decentclothing?"

"on this island, women and men were equal. the womenwore what they liked as did the men. men did not tell the women what to do. therewould have been a civil war if they had. they worked together in the fields. theyfished together. the most amazing thing, was that they shared the responsibilityof raising the children."

"what did the children look like,grampa? did they have white skin like me? did they have to go to school? tell mewhat they were like."

"no, they didn't have white skin like you.they had very tanned skin. they were beautiful. the little girls wore their hairlong and free. not like the girls here. you see how the girls here wear thosesilly caps and bonnets to keep the sun off their face. the little native girlswelcomed the sun. they ran around in short dresses and tops like the older women.the little boys dressed as the men did. the children were not required to go toschool. oh, all the children knew how to read and write in two languages. theywere capable of reading and writing english and their own language of yoiutock.they learned very young in the home. during the day the children were free to runand play. in the evening, the children had lessons by their parents. it was allvery informal and comfortable for the children. a much better learningenvironment than today. today you children are sent to school and if you don'tlearn something correctly, the teacher hits you with acane."

"grampa, how did you arrive on this strange island wherethe men and women are equal, and where the children learn in theirhomes?"

"the ship that i was on was heading south toward africafrom norway. we only got to the south of england before the ship caught fire. itwas rumored that a lamp fell from the wall in one of the cabins. we were allforced into a dinghy. it was small, only 50 of us could fit. the others jumpedoff the ship, or died. i was very fortunate to be among the first to get on thedinghy. we were pushed onto the shore of this island. it was a tragic part of mylife because i got your mother off of the ship, but your grandma was among thosethat got left behind. i couldn't find her before the dinghy left. she died inthat fire, but being on this island helped me to heal. the natives welcomed us asif we were long lost family. we were invited into people's homes until we couldget word to the authorities about what had happened.

"i must tell youthat i also found this island strange. then i became accustomed to it. i foundthat i liked the natives better than i liked my own countrymen. they treated meas one of their own, even though i was light skinned and could only speak englishand french. i found no prejudice at all. if our position had been reversed, theywould have found a great deal of prejudice in our country. being among theseunselfish people taught me something. i was taught about humanity. i was givenback a part of me that was lost.

"so you see, you should always givesomething a chance before you call it odd or strange or primitive. beopen-minded. be human. good night, grandson."

"good night,grampa."


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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