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Our island is a beautiful one, with white sands, teasing tourists, and pleasant breezes. Though it is of surreal beauty, no one visits our fishing village. Visitors come rarely, and when they do, they never come back. I believe that is because the breezes, though pleasant, allow no return to the visitors’ own homelands past summer. When summer is dead and autumn returns, the winds lie flat, and there is no way to leave here. That is why the natives never leave either, so none of our own people are lost to the pleasant breezes and teasing tourists that come so often to tempt us. Mother calls the visitors the equal of demons or imps, evil spirits that wish us to leave our white sand shores. But Leila, my sister, wishes to be tempted, if only till the newcomer leaves for winter.
“I don’t know….” I began reluctantly.
“Come now, he’s going to be a turncoat, I know it,” her eyes gleamed with insincere abandon, “He won’t be like the rest. He’ll never leave this island and he can tell us all about his adventures past the crossroads!”
I shook my head as we gazed at the newcomer, a man unknown, come straight from the crossroads. Our town was small, and our daily gossip smaller. It took only one boy to spark such controversy, a sad thing, indeed, “Oh dear, you sound like a school girl. Stop it or I’ll be forced to say you have a certain interest in this boy.”
My friend snorted immediately, “Interest, faugh! Look at his dress, his clothes are tawdry, eyes haggard, and all-out looks as if he wallows with pigs!”
“But his gaze is predatory, and you wished to see him at all. I think he may be kind, like an island boy,” I stated with some amount of decision.
She paused, and then placed her cool hand to my forehead, “Hmph, no sign of fever.”
“Stop it,” I growled, but she had already left, straight for the juncture. I knew the crossroads were where none from our sleepy village should go, but that would not stop my friend. Of that, I was certain for my jaunty and casual mannered companion. Yet she appeared to lose her nerve and ushered me to go ahead instead and scope the stranger.
The man’s features were interesting, though he appeared no older than I. He appeared exotic, foreign in a way that caught the eye. But, overall, his stance was unassuming; he put on no false airs. He was so different from our little village that it amused me; it intrigued me to a point that I found myself drawn to him.
He turned around, his coat of a design I’d never seen before hugged his sides as he faced me, “Why, hello there. Sad to say, I’m lost in your….” he paused, searching for a word, “quaint little…place. I’m just trying to find my way around here.”
I shook my head, still amazed by his easygoing accent and manner, “Where are you from, and why do your pants appear worn and your coat so thin? Where are you from?” As I spoke, I picked at his sleeve and felt the fabric.
“Chicago, you know, across some oceans and beyond,” He grinned, not so subtly shying away from my advance, “But my visit to your island has been the longest I’ve stayed in one place.”
My eyes caught alight, “You’ve traveled beyond the crossroads?”
He seemed uncertain, and his accent faltered, “Yes, haven’t you been beyond the borders of these sands? Seen the world, lived a little?”
“Mama says you odd men are evil island spirits.”
“And you believe her?” He raised an eyebrow, poised for my rebuttal.
However, I shocked both him and my curious sister furthermore by snapping, “No,” I waved my hand, making to leave, “I never did! Now if you’ll excuse me…”
He laughed, grabbing at my fingertips, “Then come and see the world with me, my newfound island flower.”
“I don’t even know you!”
With a mischievous gleam in his eye, he replied, “Oh, but you could. Aren’t you the slightest bit curious? And if so, I’ll bring along your nosy sister hiding over there, as well, to sail the seven seas.”
I was overwhelmed, and so, I nodded. My sister rushed out of her hiding place, waving her arms like a crazed person, “No, we refuse! We will not go with a devil!”
I gripped her upper forearms, “But sister, I wish to see the world!”
“Never!” She cried, “I’ll tell mother on you, then you’ll be sorry. I’ll tell her to get the island boys and chase this man into the ocean to drown. He is an evil one! Look, you‘re half mad for a stranger!” I called out to her, but she never turned back, her feet kicking at the sand. I went to see to the man, but he stared bleakly, with some uncertainty.
“I should be going,” He whirled around to go to where the paths crossed, I only saw his retreating form when he cried, “You’re all insane!”
The sun sank low when my sister returned, there was no sign of the odd man.
“You did not bring the men,” I shifted on my position on a flat rock and sighed.
“I did not have to,” she replied indignantly.
I detested the sick triumph in her tone, “Why is that?”
“Fall has begun.”
Our island is a beautiful one, with white sands, teasing tourists, and pleasant breezes. Yet, when summer is dead and autumn returns, the winds lie flat, and there is no way to leave here…….
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