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A Desert Island
Author's note: This isn't one of my greatest pieces of writing (that's my opinion). I started out with a great story and an idea but halfway through I got a little bored of it so I think I rushed a bit of the ending. Even so, I hope you guys like it. Don't forget to comment and vote!
From the deck, I could hear the babbling of teenagers as they squabbled on the shore.
Sighing to myself, I slipped on my sunglasses and put down my book. I got up from the deck chair I was seated on and padded over to the railing, my thongs ensuring quiet footsteps.
I peered over the edge. I wasn’t afraid of my fellow classmates, I’d rather have nothing to do with them. But spending the next two weeks with them was not the way I had planned my summer vacation.
You see, the thing is, my twin sister is with the ‘in crowd’. You know, the one consisting of jocks -or jerks- and cheerleaders. My sister’s a cheerleader, so I can’t say anything bad about them, especially seeing as she’s head cheerleader.
We’re graduating next year, so my sister decided that as a way to start our final senior year, she’d invite half the grade and take them on our boat for two weeks.
It’s not really a boat; it’s more of a mini cruise ship. My dad is kind of a millionaire, hence why we attend a prestigious private school and everything.
I didn’t want to go on the two week cruise but my mother made me, encouraging me to ‘mingle’ with my sister’s friends. Yeah, right.
Not only did I not want to mingle. They probably wouldn’t let me.
My two friends, Sam and Anna, who I hang out with both couldn’t come. Sam was at some sort of family get together thing. She had it every year. Anna’s parents were going overseas so she had to babysit her little brothers so I was stuck by myself.
You see, Sam, Anna and I are kind of nerds. My sister and her friend are jocks and cheerleaders. You see how we don’t mix?
But Mum insisted and here I find myself peering down at the twelve squealing cheerleaders clinging pathetically to their muscular boyfriends. Mark was the only jock without a cheerleader girlfriend from our grade. She was from another school and my sister refused to invite her. I thought it was mean, but my sister and I never saw eye to eye.
I could see my sister clinging to the captain, her manicured fingernails digging into his skin. Her name’s Aurora, by the way. And I’m Belle. Our parents named us after Disney Princesses. Clever, huh? Not.
Joel, that’s her boyfriend’s name, is supposedly the hottest guy in the school. He has messy blond curls that always fall over his piercing blue eyes. Right now, he’s wearing a tight white shirt that showed off his muscular chest as well as a pair of navy blue board shorts.
“Right, everybody!” called my father as he stepped off the boat and got the attention of everyone standing on the pier. “I’m Kyle Harding. You guys obviously know my daughters, Aurora and Belle.”
Everybody looked up at me and I gave them a grimace and a small wave. Most of them don’t even seem to recognise me.
“I hope you all enjoy your two weeks on the sea. My wife and myself are not accompanying you however there are other adults on board who are here to cater to your needs so don’t hesitate to talk to them if you need any assistance.
“This vessel has fifteen rooms for the twenty six of you. I understand you have split off into pairs to share bedrooms. Though there are a couple of spares if anybody believes they need one of their own.”
I shook my head at this. I was not going to share a room with anybody. I had no idea who my sister had allocated me with but I was definitely sleeping in my own room.
“Enjoy your holiday!”
The whooping began as everybody climbed aboard. I hesitated before deciding I should probably go downstairs. On the bottom level, everybody was looking at the room allocation sheet. I peered over their shoulder and found my name next to Mark Southerland.
I rolled my eyes and found my sister, seated in a corner on Joel’s lap. I stalked over to her and grabbed her arm, pulling her away.
“Hey! That hurts!”
And I wasn’t even holding on tight.
“Why am I with Mark Southerland? Why didn’t you just put me in a room by myself?”
Aurora brushed herself off and looked up at me, her mascara laden eyelashes framing her wide eyes.
“Because Mark’s girlfriend is a loser. She doesn’t even go to our school for heaven’s sake. I thought it might be nice for you to get to know him. He’s hot too.”
“And you didn’t think to consult me first because?”
“I knew you’d refuse. Look, if you’re mad about it, just switch to a room by yourself.”
I glared at her. She narrowed her eyes back at me. Over her shoulder I could see Joel watching us.
I turned around and walked off, picking up the pen lying on the desk underneath the sheet.
I turned around to see the deep green eyes of Mark Southerland looking back at me. And he was way too close.
I leaned back to give myself breathing room, noting his wavy dark brown hair in the process.
“Hi. Something I can help you with?”
“Yeah. I see that your sister has given us a room together.”
I laughed. “Actually that was a mistake. I’m going to take a room to myself.”
He smiled at me. “Why?”
I stared at him, finding it hard to believe that he was missing the point.
“Because I don’t want to share a room with someone I don’t know. Let alone a guy.”
He looked taken aback. “You don’t think I’m good looking?”
I frowned. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“Am I not good enough for you?” he asked, leaning forward.
“This conversation is over,” I replied, grabbing his shoulders and pushing him away from me. Quickly, I turned around and wrote my name against a blank room. Then I went to get my things and move in but not before glancing at my sisters face.
It was clear Aurora had seen the entire thing. And if I hadn’t known better it would almost seem like my sister was jealous of me, getting attention from Mark Southerland.
The ship left the pier later that afternoon. Everyone crammed on the deck to see it leave. I laid back in my sun chair, drowning in the rays of the afternoon sun, trying to read with all the noise around me when I felt weight on the end of my chair.
I looked over my book to see Joel seated there.
“Hi. I’m Joel Kingston. I don’t think we’ve met.”
I sighed. “Actually we have. The first time my sister brought you to our house but you clearly don’t seem to remember that. I’m Belle Harding, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you. You and Aurora are twins, right?”
Most people find it hard to believe my sister and I are actually related, let alone twins. My sister’s genes give her perfectly straight blond hair and large eyes the colour of a perfectly chlorinated swimming pool. It took a couple of years in braces to get her teeth straight but now she has a million dollar white smile that a lot of people are jealous of. Her figure remains slim no matter how much she eats, the only trait that’s common to the both of us.
Me, well I got given long, light brown, wavy hair that I usually prefer up in a ponytail. My perfectly hazel eyes and my tanned complexion make it unnecessary for me to wear make-up. Unlike my sister, I never had to wear braces. I got given perfectly straight teeth that never veered out of line.
“Do you reckon she likes me?”
Joel’s sudden question brought me back to the present moment. I looked at him, startled.
“What makes you ask that? She’s dated you for nearly two years, right?”
“Sometimes I think she only does it because her friends make her.”
I saw him looking at something on the far side of the deck and my eyes followed his. Aurora was standing with a glass of sparkling apple juice talking and laughing with Mark. She was clearly enjoying herself.
“You’re asking me about my sister?”
I couldn’t tell him the truth. But the truth was that my sister and I were total opposites. She was a cheerleader, I was a nerd. She was totally outgoing and confident, a boy magnet who was a bit of a bad girl sometimes. She had a boyfriend and loads of friends to hang out at the mall with.
Me? I am quiet compared to my sister and I don’t tend to mingle with people who aren’t my type. I can be very opinionated and a bit of self-confidence that can get me into trouble. Boys hardly ever seem to realise I exist, hence I have never had a boyfriend. I have two friends and our favourite place to hang out is the library.
My sister and I maybe twins, but that’s all we have in common apart from family. And none of this I was willing to reveal to Joel.
“How well do you reckon she knows him?”
I glanced back over at my sister and Mark. He had one hand on her arm and was pointing out something on the horizon.
“No idea. Don’t care.”
“She’s your sister.”
He gaped at me, clearly not understanding the don’t-associate-with-me-and-I’ll-pretend-not-to-know-you relationship my sister and I have.
I shrugged. “We don’t really talk,” I ended up mumbling as he stared at me.
We both looked up to see my sister walking towards us.
“Chatting up my boyfriend, huh Belle?”
I rolled my eyes. “Like I care about you and your pathetic friends. I’m seriously beginning to wish I’d stayed at home so I didn’t have to put up with your petty high school dramas.”
“Petty high school dramas?” repeated Aurora.
I got to my feet and walked back to the stairs so that I could return to my room. But not before I heard Joel remark,
“And what about you, chatting up Mark?”
I sat on my bunk for the next three hours trying to drown out the din from upstairs by listening to my iPod and rereading Pride and Prejudice.
Even my iPod couldn’t drown out the sound of someone knocking loudly on my door.
“What?” I called, pulling the headphones out of my ears.
“It’s me!” called back my sister.
“What do you want?”
“Can I come in?”
“No. What do you want?”
There was a moment of silence.
“I just want to talk. About Mark and Joel.”
“With me? I’m your sister, not one of your snobby cheerleading friends.”
“That’s the reason I want to talk to you. You’re my sister.”
“And what about this cruise made up your mind to break your four year silence?”
There was another moment of silence.
“Joel said that you told him that we don’t talk.”
I cursed under my breath. I’d been hoping that he hadn’t heard that.
“Can I come in, it’s awkward talking through the door.”
I sighed and got up from my bed. I opened the door to see my sister standing there watching me through wide eyes. I gestured for her to come in and she came and took a seat on the chair by the small desk.
“I spent the last hour seated in the lobby area trying to summon the courage to come talk to you.”
“And why now? Why not enjoy this holiday with your friends and then talk to me when we get home?”
“I have a problem. One that I can only talk over with my sister.”
I sighed again, lying back down on the bunk bed. “What?”
“I think I like Mark.”
I stared at her. “That creep? Why?”
“He is not a creep!”
“He was totally trying to have a go at me today when you allocated us a room together.”
“I only did that because I thought that you would talk a lot about me to him and he’d take a liking to me.”
“Talk to him about what? That you and I never talk? Sometimes you act like I’m invisible? The fact that you never even acknowledge your only sister?”
“Ok. Maybe I didn’t think that one through properly.”
We sat in silence for a minute before I spoke again.
“What about Joel? You’ve dated him for nearly two years!”
“I know and that’s the problem. Lately, I haven’t been getting the- the spark.”
“Bells, you really need to hang around more guys. The spark that you feel when you’re around him and when you kiss.”
I rolled my eyes. “Rora, that only happens in books and movies.”
“It happens in real life to!”
I sighed. This was one of the reasons I was glad not to talk to my sister. Sometimes she acted as if she lived in a fairytale. Like our namesakes did.
“Do you think I should break up with him?”
I shrugged. “You’re asking me for boy advice? Why don’t you ask one of your friends?”
“They are terrible gossipers. If I told one of them at eleven o’clock tonight, by midnight, the entire ship would know. Including the staff.”
I laughed. “Some friends you got.”
“They’re better than yours are. Yours are geeks.”
“So am I. Don’t insult my friends!”
She sighed. “I was wrong to come to you about advice. I knew it wouldn’t work. I’ll consider whether I should break up with him.”
“Just get out of my room so I can read.”
And she left, shutting the door behind her.
The next morning I woke up at a rather early hour. As I got to my feet, I could hardly feel the gentle bouncing of the boat on the waves. Must’ve got my sea legs already.
I dressed in a pair of short shorts and a pale pink tank top. I threw a thin white cardigan over the top and slipped into my thongs. Then I grabbed my book and my iPod and made my way to the deck.
I sat down on my sun chair and lay back to enjoy the fresh morning breeze. I inhaled a fresh ocean breeze but smelt something I shouldn’t. It smelt almost like land.
You’re going to think I’m insane. But when your family owns a boat like this you take trips on it regularly and after a while you get accustomed to a certain salty smell of the sea and a civilized smell of land.
I got up again, noting that I still couldn’t feel the rocking of the ship. Carefully I walked to the railing and peered over.
I gasped. Instead of seeing the crystal blue of the oceans waves with the sunlight reflecting off it, I could see the bright yellow of an unknown beach. Looking up, I noted palm trees and more sand.
We were beached!
I ran for the captain’s room. Entering I found him slumped over the controls in front of him, a beer bottle still in his hand. Several other beer bottles littered the floor around him.
“Captain Jaggier!” I yelled, shaking the man. “Captain, wake up!”
Groggily, he cracked one eye open and looked at me.
“What’s it, lassie?”
That got the captain up in a hurry. He looked out to see the palm trees and sand in front of him and smacked his forehead.
“Dumb old me. Let’s get everyone off.”
I nodded and picked up the microphone for the loudspeaker.
“Hey, everybody! This is Belle Harding and I know it’s only seven in the morning but you all need to get up! The ship had beached and we all need to get off as soon as possible. I repeat, everybody off the ship!”
Twenty minutes later, everyone was crowded on the beach looking up at the sight of the ship half landed on the sand.
“This is not how the vacation was supposed to go,” complained my sister, throwing a glance towards Joel who was standing on the opposite side of the group. Something told me she’d carried out the break-up-with-Joel plan.
“I know, Rora. But sometimes you’ve just got to do the best you can with what you’ve got,” I reassured her.
“And what would that be?”
“You’ve got an entire island here. One we can’t even find on the map.”
It was true. While we were waiting for everybody to get ready, the Captain and I had looked through every map we could find and there was no island this small on our route in any of them. I had taken a walk and it had taken me about ten minutes to complete a full round of the place.
“And what are we going to do with an island?”
“We can play on the beach, build sandcastles, explore, camp on the sand, build a bonfire, do raft building, play all sorts of games. This could be fun.”
My sister looked at me and behind her, all her friends shook their heads at me.
“I know you guys are all rich snobs who live on manicures and going shopping and to the gym, stocked with cash who don’t give a damn for anybody but themselves. But here, we’re no longer the people we are on the mainland. We can be who we want to be, do what we want to do. And we can make a promise to each other that what happens on this island stays on this island, if you guys want.”
A few of the guys began nodding their heads, clearly intrigued by the idea of staying on a desert island for two weeks.
“But having fun is going to take team work. Moreover, we somehow have to figure out how to make contact with the mainland.”
“Cell phones don’t work,” noted one of my sisters friend, Keira I think her name was.
“Genius,” I muttered, frustrated. “But we’ll figure that out later. For now, we can have some fun on the beach.”
Within ten minutes everyone had spread out towels and set up tables and chairs on the sand. Most of the girls were wearing bikinis and working on their tans while the boys tried to outdo each other in the water.
“Thanks for saving my summer vacation,” said my sister, taking a seat next to me on the sand.
I smiled at her. “I did some thinking and I realised that getting on with you might not be all so bad. It might take some work and getting used to but I liked the idea so when your vacation went bust, I thought I should help out.”
“Thanks,” she repeated, sliding an arm around my shoulders. “For saving the vacation and making me realise within a day that I have an awesome sister. Also I think you really opened up everyone’s eyes as to who they really are.”
“Well, you can’t change everything in a day, can you?”
My sister laughed. Then she grew quiet. “I broke up with Joel.”
“Mark told me last night that he broke up with his girlfriend after he heard I was free.”
“I don’t understand how you guys live. Yesterday, you were perfectly content with Joel and now the whole worlds upside down. You see what I meant about petty high school dramas?”
“I guess.” Another pause. “He kissed me.”
“Joel? I know. You guys make out at like every game. It’s disgusting, by the way.”
“Not Joel. Mark.”
I gagged on the sip of Coke I was taking. “You what?’
“I kissed Mark.”
“No. Before you said he kissed you, now you’re saying you kissed him. Which is it?”
“Does it matter? The fact is we kissed.”
“You kissed Mark?” exclaimed a loud voice from behind us.
We twisted around to see Keira walking behind us carrying her mobile, her head twisted towards us.
“I was trying to find reception when I couldn’t help overhearing what you said. Oh. My. God. Wait until I tell the girls!”
There was a squeal, followed by Keira running across the beach, only to fall shortly, screaming in pain.
“Keira!” shouted my sister as we made our way towards her. The girls descended on us and the boys ran out of the water, wondering what was wrong.
“Everyone give us some space,” I requested, kneeling next to Keira.
“What hurts, babe?” asked a tan guy, kneeling down on her other side. Brandon, is her boyfriend’s name I think.
“I think I broke my ankle!” she wailed, her tears leaving mascara tracks down her cheeks. Several of the other girls began sobbing too.
“For heaven’s sake, is everyone going to start bawling?” I asked.
“She’s broken her ankle and there’s no hospital around here!” sobbed one of the girls. Heidi, I think.
“She has not broken her ankle. It’s merely sprained,” I corrected.
“I sprained my ankle!” wailed Keira.
I rolled my eyes. “Do you want me to strap it?”
“Will it hurt?”
“Stop being a baby,” I muttered as my sister handed me the first aid kit from the ship. As I leaned over her, I felt a slap land on my cheek.
“Don’t call her that!” growled Brandon.
I looked at him, I could feel my cheek reddening, but not from embarrassment.
“Don’t hit my sister!”
“Don’t tell me what to do!” yelled Brandon, getting to his feet and glaring at Aurora. Mark stepped between them. “Mark, step away from her!”
“Brandy, stop it!” shouted Keira, tears still flooding her eyes.
“Brandy?” I scoffed. “Your nickname is Brandy?”
I couldn’t help laughing and my sister joined in. I heard a chuckle behind me and I twisted my head to see Joel standing there.
“Just do something to my ankle already!”
Quickly, I strapped up Keira’s ankle before replacing everything back in the kit.
“Now don’t go running down the beach again.”
Keira’s tears had all dried up, leaving only black smudges on her cheeks.
“There was a reason I was running. Girls! Aurora kissed Mark!”
There were squeals of joy that I couldn’t bear to stick around and listen too. As I approached the ship to replace the first aid kit, I noticed a dark figure leaning against the hull as if waiting for me.
As I approached him, I noticed he was watching me very carefully.
“If this is about my sister, then I don’t want to talk about it.”
He looked at me. “It is. And I really need to talk to you.”
I sighed, using the ladder we had attached to the side of the ship to climb aboard. He followed me.
“Fine. What do you what to talk about?”
I rolled my eyes. “Well I never would’ve guessed,” I said, sarcasm dripping with every word. “What do you want to know about her? You dated her for two years. You should know her better than I do.”
“She’s your sister.”
“Haven’t we been over this?”
I sighed, rolling my eyes to the sky as I lay back on a deck chair. Below, I could hear clinking as the chef prepared lunch.
“She cares about you, you know,” he whispered quietly.
I closed my eyes. “I doubt that. I’m surprised she even remembers my name.”
“I think there’s something you should know. I don’t know if you remember this, but two years ago, you’re sister wasn’t one of us. She didn’t hang out with you a lot, I know, but I noticed she didn’t really fit in with the people she was hanging out with. Then I asked her out and she became part of the group; a cheerleader and the rest of it. It wasn’t you that made her change, it was her friends and mine.”
“Are you saying this is your fault?”
“Yes. And no. I mean, you could always come and join our group.”
“Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll stick to my own friends, thanks.”
I cracked an eye open to see him nod. Then he sighed and got to his feet.
“I guess I’d better get back to the rest of them.”
He turned to leave.
He turned back around and looked at me. I sat up, looking up into his face. My sister was right, he was pretty good looking.
“Can I ask you something?”
I took a deep breath. “Did my sister ever tell you about the day?”
“What day? No.”
I stood up and patted him on the shoulder. “It’s not your fault she didn’t talk to me. It was hers too. And mine.”
He took my hand which was now lying awkwardly on his shoulder. “What happened? Do you want to talk about it?”
I shook his hand off mine and took a step back. “My sister dated you for two years. If she didn’t tell you, then neither will I.”
I made my way off the boat. I could feel his eyes boring into my back as I walked away and my hand still tingled from when he held it.
A couple of hours later, everyone had decided to have a party on deck and I could hear the music from where I was sitting, a hundred metres down the beach. Attending a party was the last thing I felt like doing; I was exhausted.
“I notice you’re not dancing.”
The deep voice caught me off guard. I looked up to see Joel gazing down at me. He was wearing dark blue denim shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. He looked amazing.
“Didn’t feel like it.”
“Watching your sister and Mark dancing together wasn’t working for me either.”
It was awkward, talking to someone who was standing up, so I patted the sand next to me and he sat down.
“Why does it seem like you’re hanging out with me a lot more than the rest of them?”
He sighed. “I’m not one of them. I don’t want to be. But we each have our secrets.”
“If you don’t want to be one of them, then why are you?”
He gazed out at the moon reflected on the gentle waves that were crashing against the shore.
“If I tell you, you have to tell me your secret.”
“I’ll tell it to you tomorrow.”
He gave me a lost puppy look with wide eyes and a sad smile. I shook my head.
“Fine. Your sister was a lot easier to convince.”
“I’m not my sister.”
“I know. Anyway, do you want to know my story?”
He laughed, leaning back on his hands and gazing back towards the ship.
“My father. That’s the reason I live the life I do. My father played sports when he was at school. Captain and MVP, everything like me. But one season, he got a terrible knee injury and could never play again. My father went to our school when he was our age. As soon as I was old enough, he made sure I went to the same school, did the same course, played sports and everything like him. It was like he was living his life through me.”
I lay back on the sand. I dug my fingers into the beach, all of my thoughts centring around what Joel was saying.
“He’s the reason I trained so hard. The reason I became captain and everything. Then he realised I wasn’t too into the whole thing and encouraged me to ask someone out. So I asked your sister. For a while, she made it worthwhile, but the minute she became one of them, it didn’t work out.”
I looked at him. He was back to gazing at the moon’s reflection.
“Why don’t you just tell him?”
“He and my mum divorced about a year and a half ago. He moved to England and I hardly ever see him anymore. Mum remarried and my stepfather has the same views as my father. My stepfather’s first wife couldn’t have any children so he was glad to have me as a son. He even promised my father he would raise me the way my father intended. My life sucks.”
“If none of this had happened, what would you do?”
“Believe it or not, I’m actually pretty smart. I reckon I would have ended up hanging out with people like you, playing the guitar and become a musician.”
“Sam intends to be a musician.”
“Exactly why I like you people.”
“Anna wants to be an artist.”
“I want to be an author.”
He looked at me. “Seriously?”
“Yes. Something wrong?”
“No. What about your sister?”
I shrugged. “Maybe a make-up artist. It seems to be the only thing she’s good at. Unless they make cheerleading an Olympic sport.”
He laughed, rolling over onto his stomach so he could glance up at me and draw figures in the sand at the same time.
“Belle?” I heard my sister call.
I rolled away from Joel to put some space between us. My sister appeared the faint lights from the ship outlining her curvy figure as she looked down at the two of us.
“What are you two doing?”
“Talking. Is that a crime?” I asked her.
“No. But, we’re about to go to bed when we realised your guys weren’t there so I came to get you.”
“Got the message, thanks,” I told her and she turned to leave. I listened until I couldn’t hear footsteps crunching the soft sand then I rolled back to where I had been sitting before.
“You tired?” asked Joel.
“Only a little. You?”
We sat there in silence for a minute, listening to the lapping of the waves and the dimming of the din on the ship deck.
“Can you play guitar?”
He shook his head. “My stepfather bought me one but he told me to learn on my own because he wasn’t going to pay for lessons.”
I nodded at that and got to my feet.
“Help me up?”
I grabbed the hand that he extended to me and I hauled him to his feet. When I tried to untangle our fingers, he refused to let go.
As soon as I realised he wasn’t going to let my hand go anytime soon, we began to make our way to the ship. We didn’t say a moment, just enjoying each other’s company.
Once we were at my room door, he finally let go of my hand. I pushed open my door and turned to say goodnight to him.
But the words never came.
When I turned around and looked into his eyes, he leaned down and pressed his lips to my cheek for the briefest moment before standing straight and turning to leave.
I was about to step into my room when I remembered something I was going to say to him.
“Joel?” I called, poking my head out of my doorway.
“Yes?” he turned.
I smiled at him. “Tomorrow, I’m going to teach you how to play the guitar.”
He returned my smile. “Can’t wait.”
I permitted myself one more glance at him before sliding into my room and closing the door. I leant against it and slowly sunk to the floor clutching my cheek where he had kissed me.
What was happening to me?
I was up when the sun rose the next morning. I couldn’t sleep much. I was, strangely enough, looking forward to my day with Joel.
But there was another issue on my mind. We could stay on this island but not forever. Someone had to come and find us.
Our ship’s radio had been unable to connect to send an SOS signal to the mainland so we were going to have to come up with a secondary plan.
I was on the deck, a glass of Coke at my side and a piece of paper in front of me. The best idea I had come up with was fire. If we built three fires, an internationally recognised SOS signal, we could light them if we heard any planes or helicopters coming near.
I had been concentrating so hard on the piece of paper in front of me that I never realised someone had come and sat down in the chair next to me. Looking over I saw my sister, her sunglasses covering her eyes, lying down so the sun could wash over her body. She was wearing a delicately embroidered white bikini and thongs.
“What were you and Joel talking about for so long yesterday?”
“Nothing of great importance.”
“Admit it; you’re falling for him.”
I shrugged. “I don’t know if I am.”
“Belle! I know you’re not great in the boy department, but trust me I am. And I am telling you that you’re head over heels for him. And you guys would make a great couple.”
I didn’t respond, thinking over the idea of Joel and I being a couple. That didn’t actually sound so bad.
“What about you and Mark?”
“We’re getting on great. He’s so nice!”
“He’s a creep!”
We sat in silence for a minute before I asked the question that had been nagging me for the entire evening.
“Why didn’t you ever tell Joel what happened to Jasmine?”
My sister raised her sunglasses and turned to face me. “I didn’t really want to talk to anybody about it really. I was thinking about that day recently and I realised that that was the last day we had ever had a proper conversation.”
“Why do you ask?”
“Joel told me about himself last night. And I promised that I would tell him about her in return.”
There was silence for a second then, “I think you should tell him.”
“Why? You didn’t.”
“One, you promised him. Two, he deserves to know. I didn’t tell him because then he would realise the only reason I said yes when he asked me out was because I needed to heal. And that was the only way I could see to do it.”
“We healed in different ways. I became more studious and you started hanging out with different people.”
“I know. And we both stopped talking to each other. I don’t think it did either of us any good.”
We both sighed, reflecting on that day so long ago.
We both looked over to see Joel watching us from the far end of the deck.
“Was this a bad time?”
I glanced at my sister. “No. We were just having a chat.”
“Remember what you promised?” he asked.
“I remember.” I got to my feet, giving my sister a nod as she watched us leave curiously.
I returned to my room to collect my guitar and then we retreated to the beach. For the next two hours, I taught Joel the basics of chords and strumming and it wasn’t long before he could play a little bit.
“You’re a great teacher,” he complimented me.
“Thanks. You’re an obedient student, that’s why.”
He laughed. Then his tone became sober. “But you agreed to tell me something.”
I looked away from him. This was the part of the day I’d been dreading. “The story of the day which changed my life.”
“You don’t have to tell it to me if you don’t want to.”
“I want to, I just don’t know if I can. I haven’t told this story many times. But my sister and I agreed that you deserved to know.”
He waited patiently for me to begin without pushing me.
“It all began one day when Dad was at work and Mum was sick. Aurora and I decided to make her lunch to make her feel better. One thing you need to know is that we had a little sister named Jasmine. I can’t remember what we made for lunch that day, but it was one the stove and then Jas yelled something from the basement and we went to investigate. It turned out to be nothing, she was watching television. We sat down with her, forgetting that the stove was on. After a while the smoke alarm began beeping and we rushed to the kitchen to see that our lunch was burnt and inedible. We had used most of what was left in the kitchen. So we told Mum and we decided to go to the shops to buy some groceries.
“Jas insisted she come so we took her. We were still fourteen so we couldn’t drive. Jas was ten. Mum gave Aurora some money and we headed off. We bought ice cream on the way which we ate. Then Jas insisted we go and try on jewellery at this costume jewellery shop that was on the way. She wanted this blue charm bracelet so we bought it for her with our pocket money. We were leaving the shop and about to cross the road when Aurora and I began arguing about what we were going to buy and make for lunch. Jas started to lead us across the road and we were so caught up in our argument that we never looked to see if there was any traffic.
“The rest of the details are a little hazy. I remember a horn blasting and looking around the see a truck driving towards us. The rest is black. All I know is that Aurora and I woke up in hospital about a week later. Jas was killed on impact. We lost our little sister that day.”
My voice began to shake towards the end of the story and my body began to shiver as I tried to hold back my tears. Joel slipped his arm around my shoulders and gave me a comforting squeeze. My tears began to fall and I began to shake even harder. Joel pulled me into his arms and held me tight until my tears had subsided.
“Aurora and I blamed each other for the argument that we were having. That was the last real time we talked to each other.”
Joel rocked me back and forth, his arms still holding me protectively. Then he slowly raised a hand to wipe away the last tears that were staining my face.
“It’s okay,” he whispered, still rocking me back and forth.
When I felt in control of myself again, I pulled away from him and wiped my sore eyes with the back of my hand. As I brought my hand down from my face, he took it and held it tight.
“Sing,” he insisted, handing me my guitar with his free hand.
So I did.
And I instantly felt better.
Joel and I spent the rest of the day just wandering around the tiny island. We played guitar a little longer, then went exploring. Who knew there were coconut trees growing on this island?
The longer we spent together, the more Joel seemed to be like the type of guy who’d fit into our nerdy group at school and less like the jock that had been my sister’s boyfriend.
Around four o’clock we returned to the ship to find my sister waiting for us. She took one look at our linked hands and barely stopped herself from squealing.
“I’ve been waiting for you guys,” she began, biting down on her lower lip.
“Because that doesn’t sound creepy at all,” I greeted her. “What’s up?”
“Chef told us that we can have a bonfire on the beach and he’d give us marshmallows.”
“And?” I asked, waiting for the punch line.
My sister hesitated.
Joel answered instead. “They don’t know how to make a bonfire.”
I rolled my eyes. Of course they didn’t.
“Assemble everyone on the beach in ten minutes,” I ordered my sister. “I’m going to change.”
I shook my hand out of Joel’s. He leaned down and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek. I smiled at him and my sister before walking to the stairs leading to our rooms, leaving the two of them behind in an awkward silence.
I changed into a blue tie-dye skirt and a white tank top. I slipped on a pair of blue thongs and pulled my hair back into a ponytail. When I arrived on the beach, everyone was waiting.
They all watched as I showed them the kind of wood we needed to gather before they assembled into groups of four and set off. I had decided to create the three fire SOS signal using the same bonfire to save time.
Joel, Mark, my sister and I all set off together. We walked in silence, my sister and I picking up the occasional stick before handing them to the boys to carry.
“So, Belle,” began Mark. “Where did you learn to build a bonfire?”
“Family camping trip when we were thirteen,” I replied, placing another stick on the pile growing in Joel’s arms.
“Camping? You guys went camping?” asked Mark, turning to my sister.
“Camping is fun,” stated my sister.
“Camping is ridiculous. Rich people don’t go camping.”
Joel looked at him. “So what do we do, man?”
I laughed. “Camping is about living. Living in the most basic way.”
“Living is worthless unless you’re rich,” said Mark. “There’s nothing money can’t buy.”
“There’s a lot money can’t buy or replace,” retorted my sister, turning and stomping off.
Mark and Joel stared after her. I sighed. “It’s my fault, I should have never brought up that camping trip.”
The boys turned and looked at me.
I looked straight into Joel’s eyes. “It was our last camping trip.”
He nodded to show he understood. I ran after my sister.
I found her sitting with her arms wrapped around her knees on a quiet area of the beach about two hundred metres from the ship.
I sat down next to her. For a minute, neither of us said anything.
“The night Mum made you come on this trip with us, I sat up for hours remembering the day we lost Jas. I couldn’t believe it was the reason I lost my only remaining sister. I thought about how mad Jas would have been if she knew that we had stopped talking because we blamed each other for her death. I wanted to say that I was sorry and that I wanted my sister back, but I didn’t know how to say it and I thought I was going to lose you forever. Then, when the opportunity arose on the cruise to mend the troubles we had had, I jumped at the idea of putting behind our past. Bells, I’m so sorry.”
“I’m sorry too.”
I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her tight. She lay her head down on my arms.
“I’m sorry about Mark. He’s a great guy and I really like him but he can be a bit of a jerk sometimes, that’s something I’ve discovered.”
“I left him with Joel. I think Joel might be able to rub some sense into him.”
My sister laughed shakily. “You have to promise me something.”
“If Joel ever asks you out, you have to say yes, do you understand?”
We sat in silence until I figured it was time we returned to where the others were probably waiting.
“When I said that there were things that money couldn’t buy or replace-.”
“You were talking about your lost sisterhood with me and Jas’s death. I know.”
“You really are smart.”
I laughed softly as the others came into view. With Joel and Mark in the lead, everyone had begun making the fires.
Mark and Joel jogged over to us the minute they spotted us.
“Belle, Aurora, I’m sorry,” apologized Mark.
My sister and I looked at each other, then at Joel.
“He gave me a few tips on being a little more sensitive.”
We laughed. Mark took my sister’s hand and led her to the ship so they could talk in private. I turned to Joel.
“Thanks for understanding.”
He stared down at me for a while. Then he leaned down, his arms rising to pull me closer to him.
The second our lips met, I couldn’t have felt happier. Those few short moments may have been the best in my life.
A wolf whistle further down the beach caused us to pull apart.
Without glancing towards the rest of the group, Joel placed his hand on my neck, our foreheads touching. He smiled at me before leaning down to press his lips to mine again.
My sister was right, there were some things in life money couldn’t buy.
I woke up the next morning with a rather uncomfortable ache in my lower back. I sat up at stretched, blinking at the sudden sunlight.
I was lying across three deck chairs with my head lying across Joel’s chest. It took a few stretches of my neck to take out all the stiffness.
I looked down to see Joel squinting up at me. His blond curls were falling messily over his face.
“Sorry. Did I wake you?”
I smiled in apology and got up.
Sometime after the bonfire on the beach last night, Joel and I had retreated to the deck to be away from the crowd and talk in peace. We must have fallen asleep at some point.
“Want anything to drink?” I asked him.
“A Coke would be nice.”
I leaned down and kissed his forehead before heading for the kitchen to find some food and drink. On the way I noted the mess that had been created on the beach the night before and made a mental note to ask everyone to pull together and clean up.
From the chef, I received two muffins, a banana and an apple as well as a Coke and a lemonade. I took those back up to Joel on the deck who looked like he had gone back to sleep.
“Are you awake?” I asked him softly.
“Yes,” he muttered, slowly sitting up as I placed the food in front of him.
“Banana or apple?” I asked giving him the option. He chose the apple and took a large bite out of it while I opened my lemonade can and took a sip.
“What are we doing today?” he asked while devouring a muffin.
“What do you want to do?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. How long have we been here?”
I thought for a minute. “This is only day four if you can believe it.”
He laughed. “What are we going to do for the next week and a half?”
“I dunno. But I think we should light the bonfires. The smoke is sure to grab the attention of somebody.”
He agreed to my idea as he swallowed the last bite of his muffin and stared at the one I hadn’t even begun to eat.
“Eat it,” I laughed as I pushed the muffin towards him.
After he was done, we both left to get changed. Then we met in the dining room where everyone else was still eating breakfast.
“Guys!” I called for everyone’s attention. “We have decided that we are going to run out of things to do on this island in a couple of days, so we think we should light the fires and hope it was grab the attention of any boat or plane close by.”
“I like it,” agreed my sister. “If we can get back to the mainland, maybe we could just hang out at the country club for the rest of our summer vacation.”
Everyone murmured their agreement. Even though I had changed all their minds about vacation, I couldn’t have expected their patience to last forever.
Twenty minutes later the fires were lit and we were all standing back to look at our handiwork. Smoke was spiralling up to the sky and fires burning steadily. We had agreed that we would all keep an eye on them to make sure they didn’t run out of fuel.
We all then decided to build a massive sandcastle. Then the plan adjusted itself and we decided to build a massive sand city. My sister, Keira, Heidi and I began building a large castle to be the centre of our city while Mark, Joel and Brandon began building houses. Some of the other guys began building moats while the other girls collected shells to decorate.
Two and a half hours and twelve chipped nails later, we finished our city. It was one of the prettiest sights I had ever seen and by glancing at my sister, I knew she felt the same way. The last time either of us had built a sand castle was back when Jas was still alive and we had taken a trip to the beach.
“It looks great,” remarked Joel, sliding an arm around my shoulders as we watched the waves lap at the edge of the city. We all took photos with our phones so we could keep the memories.
“Lunch!” announced my sister, returning from the ship. We laid out blankets on the beach and set up some of the picnic tables and beach umbrellas so we could have a proper picnic on the beach. My sister and Mark brought out hamburgers while Keira and Brandon brought the drinks. We all ate and talked until my watch told me it was nearly four.
The others returned to the ship with the last of the things from lunch when Joel and I decided to check on our sand city. We found it half washed away, the castle was still standing however.
While we watched the waves attack, we heard the sound of helicopter blades cutting the air above us. We looked up to see a white and blue helicopter heading our way.
“Mark! Bring some of the blankets!” yelled Joel. We used the blankets to signal to the helicopter which landed, missing our sand city by only a few metres.
Our whole group, including all the crew had gathered on the beach and we watched as a couple of policemen hopped out.
“Officer Hastings,” introduced one of the men. “These are Officers Rivers and Johnson.”
“Belle Harding,” I introduced myself. “This is my sister, Aurora. We were partying with our friends when our ship got stranded on this island. We created the fires, hoping someone would see.”
“A couple in a boat spotted the smoke and called it in. We came to see what the problem was. Where’s the captain?”
“Here, Officer.” Captain Jaggier stepped forward.
“I got a little too drunk, sir, and I fell asleep at the wheel.”
“We will have to charge you for that, you understand?”
“As for the rest of you, we will send out a rescue boat tomorrow so pack your things and I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Thanks, Officer,” said my sister.
The officers gave us a couple more instructions before leaving.
“Reckon Mum and Dad are going to be mad?” asked Aurora.
I shrugged. “Not our fault.”
My sister agreed.
But everyone was rejoicing, tomorrow we would be going home.
Seven o’clock the next day saw my sister and I getting ready for one massive party we had decided to throw at our place. It was a kind of we’re-back-on-the-mainland-and-ready-to-enjoy-the-summer party.
“How do I look?” asked my sister.
It had been many years since I’d heard those words come out of my sisters mouth. I turned around to see her.
She was wearing a short silver skirt with a black tank top. Her custom made leather jacket was studded with large rhinestones and her initials were embroidered on the arm. She was wearing tall, silver pumps with large silver hoops in her ears. Her large eyes were heavily outlined and surrounded by a perfect ring of mascara laden eyelashes. There was a pink tinge to her cheeks and as always, her complexion was completely clear.
“You look stunning,” I complimented her.
“Thanks. So do you.”
I glanced at the mirror. I may not have been fashion savvy, but that didn’t mean I didn’t have good clothes or good taste.
I was wearing a short black skirt and deep red blouse with a lace frill. I had chosen my dark red pumps with a silver heels and my hair was out in loose curls. I had never been one for make-up but I had decided on a little eyeliner and tinge of blush on my cheeks.
Downstairs, the doorbell rang and my sister ran to answer it. Even though it was our butlers job.
I slowly made my way through the maze of hallways in our house to the staircase and looked down as my sister friends congregated in the massive hall. My eyes kept searching until I found what I was looking for.
Standing on the fringe of the crowd was Joel. He was wearing black slacks and a pale blue shirt that fitted him just perfectly. His blond hair had been gelled back to perfection, but his face seemed tense and he continued to search for something.
“Looking for something?” I murmured, coming to a stop beside him.
He turned at looked at me.
“I’ve found what I was looking for.”
I laughed as he pulled me towards him an enveloped me and a massive hug.
“I’ve decided to quit the team.”
“What?” I gasped, pulling away from him. “Why?”
“I called my father and had a chat with him. I told him about everything that happened and I told him I’ve changed my mind.”
“And what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to start a band.”
“You can’t play an instrument.”
He looked at me, his blue eyes smiling. “That’s why you’re going to be the first member of my band.”
“Maybe you can ask your friends to join.”
“They’ll probably say yes.”
“Why don’t we ask them?”
I whirled around to see Sam and Anna staring at me, their mouths wide open. I grabbed Joel’s hand and dragged him over to them.
“Hey guys!” I greeted them giving them both hugs. “Sam, Anna, this is Joel. Joel, these are my friends Sam and Anna.”
“He’s a jock,” stated Sam.
“Not anymore,” replied Joel. “I’m quitting.”
“Yeah?” Anna sounding apprehensive. “And what are you going to do?”
“Start a band. You guys want to join?”
Sam and Anna glanced at each other and then at me.
“We should talk,” said Anna, grabbing my arm as my friends dragged me to a corner where we could talk.
“Bells, what’s going on?”
I took a deep breath. “I know this is going to sound insane, but my sister and I began talking again and I kind of began to start liking Joel and this cruise thing didn’t turn out to be so bad, apart from the bit where we got stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere. Anyway, I discovered that Joel has a secret but basically all he wants to do is be like us and become a musician and my sister and I stopped talking over something so stupid that we decided to make up and I began to understand my sisters friends a little better and I’ve realised that maybe they’re not really as bad as they seem and-.”
“Enough!” cried Sam and Anna together. “That’s enough.”
“So Joel’s going to join our group?” added Anna.
“Do you guys mind?”
“Not really. I mean he’s cute. Reckon he’s got any brothers?” asked Sam.
“Sam! You’re beginning to sound like one of the cheerleaders.”
We all laughed.
“So what about the band?”
We all turned around to find Joel standing behind us, still waiting for a verdict.
“We’ll join,” agreed Sam and Anna.
I slid an arm around Joel’s waist and another through Anna’s arm. Anna took Sam’s hand and we all headed for the backyard.
And something told me that senior year was going to be just perfect.
“This is the life.”
My sister and I were lying back on deck chairs surrounding the pool at the country club. All of my sisters friends as well as Sam and Anna were here too. The boys were playing a game of water polo, and we were just avoiding being splashed.
“Come on guys, get in!” begged Mark.
“No way,” replied my sister, lifting her sunglasses and shaking her head at him.
“Do not give me that look,” I said sternly, as Joel made puppy dog eyes at me.
“Get in,” he begged.
I shook my head.
“Girls versus boys,” challenged Mark.
We all glanced at each other. That sounded like an offer we almost couldn’t refuse.
“Fine,” I sighed, standing up and placing my sunglasses on the small table. I took off my thongs and dived clean into the crystal clear water. Following splashes told me the others had jumped in too.
Even though there were more of us, the boys said they could beat us even two players down. We began playing, but we proved to be well matched.
In the end, the girls turned out to be superior and in retaliation, the boys began splashing us so hard with water that we had to retreat out of the pool.
I returned to the change rooms and put on a pair of denim shorts and a white tank top. When I walked out, I saw Joel waiting for me.
“Want to take a walk?”
We walked in silence until we reached the golf course. Joel led me to a shady yet private spot behind a group of trees where we sat down.
“Are we still okay?” he asked me.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, we’re not exactly on a desert island anymore. Desert islands have a certain spark.”
“The spark isn’t there for you anymore?”
“It is. But I’m asking if it still exists for you.”
“That’s all I need to hear.”
Joel leaned down and pressed his lips against mine. I guess I have to admit, my sister was right about the spark, because I definitely felt it.
We would spend the next couple of weeks here for summer vacation. Swimming in the pool, playing golf, working out in the gym or relaxing in the café, our adventures were over for the summer.
But life would never be the same again. I have a boyfriend, as well as his band which I have to start committing to, because he will never make it without me.
I have to begin catching up with my sister on all those years that we lost since the death of the one person we both love and miss the most.
I still have to enjoy my last year of high school and get set on my job of becoming an author by writing my first book so I can get it published.
I’ve written a few pieces in the past, but none that were high quality. So when I wrote my first piece that I liked, I was proud because it was a story from my heart and something that meant a lot to me.
I hope you enjoyed it because I really enjoyed writing this. Without readers, I’ll never succeed in my quest to become an author.
I may be named after a Disney Princess and I may be the daughter of a millionaire, but that doesn’t define who I am. Who I am came from discovering myself and realising that my life could be better in more ways than I thought.
I’m Belle Harding, and this was the summer vacation that helped me discover who I truly was. It began with being forced on a cruise trip I was certain I would never enjoy, being stranded on a desert island with a couple of jocks and cheerleaders and associating with people I never dreamed I would.
It was a summer vacation I will always remember and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.
As my sister said, there are some things in life that money can’t buy.