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Ralph opened his tear-filled eyes. His body shook as he bent over double, water and leftover fruit cascading from a mouth cracked after many hours in the sun. Choked sobs escaped from his throat as smoke filled his burning lungs. The naval officer gently ushered the relieved children to the edge of the long beach. The sky had become insistinguishable against the the gray smoke.
The continuous fire had consumed the entire forest and was heading to the sandy beach where the group of British boys were waiting.
"Down below! There is a smoke signal!" the officer ordered. As they landed, the boys, nearly men now, gave a cry. Finally, someone had come to their rescue. But, not soon enough...
Now, the sinking sun gave way to a bright sunset on the horizon, reflecting the shape of the ship that was speeding towards the flaming island. The shock of a sudden rescue was too much for Ralph to absorb. Simon was right! As he had predicted, they would be saved! However, it was a bitter joy, for their salvation had come at a significant price.
All the boys knew this experience would leave a permanent mark in their lives. As the cruiser drew nearer, the boys waded into the water and shouts of joy erupted from the thin beach-all except one. The thin child had been unusually silent after his dethroning from chieftainship. He gazed up at the sky with scorn in his eyes.
“I’m not leaving this island! This is my island! I don’t want to go home.” he murmured under his breath.
Then, the door was swung open. A pair of British officers emerged, gathering the excited group into the safety of the ship.
All but two boys stayed on the now-burning beach. Jack was planted where he stood, refusing to follow the others. Suddenly, with a final glance at his people, he ran into the flames, never to be heard of again. However, he has been claimed to be spotted on the castle rock, with pigskin clothing.
On the other end of the beach, a boy stood, eye level to a kneeling officer.
“Commander, the ship is ready to-”
“Ralph? Is that you?” The commander replied, ignoring the naval soldier.
“Father? Father! I knew you would come! I told them you would! Oh daddy you wouldn’t believe what has happened here! I-” and with that, the two ran to each other, meeting in a tight embrace.
That’s when Ralph finally let himself go. No more fear, pain, hurt, or helplessness. He was with his father now, and none of the boys could lay a finger on him again. He buried his head into the cuffs of his father’s uniform and cried. Carrying him gently, the commander took him aboard the ship that would bring them home.
Ralph wanted to tell his father everything. Later, he thought, I’m almost home now; no more of having to live in that prison. I am almost home, and I am safe.
They docked into the British port and as he was leaving with his father, Ralph turned to his father.
“Daddy, wait! We have to tell Piggy’s aunt what happened to him!”
His father gave him a weary look and walked back to the port where crowds of adults gathered-family and friends of the lost boys gathered after they had learned of their sons’ rescue.
Alone on a bench, with a scarf around her neck, sat a woman, bearing almost the exact resemblance of the boy whose body was sunken at the bottom of the ocean in an act of brutality.
“Excuse me ma’am, are you Piggy’s aunt? The one who owns a candy store?”
“Yes! Where is he? Where’s my nephew? Piggy! I want to see-”
“Miss, I am sorry…” the commander pipped up.
“He didn’t make it did he?”
With that, the woman stood up, gathered her belongings, and walked away with tears running down her face, as she grieved for the child she loved but would never see again. She repeated over and over:
“Poor Piggy. My poor, poor boy."