The gentle breeze whispered through the trees and over the pale sand. The sun’s extreme heat could be felt as it reflected off the sand and the ocean water. The waves rose and receded on the shoreline, creating a dark stain as the tide slowly came in.
Absorbing the full, blistering heat from the sun’s rays was a person’s almost lifeless body, laying half on the dry sand and half on the wet. He coughed and spluttered as he regained some consciousness.
The waves rose once again, this time they travelled up the shore a little more than they had previously. The salty water seeped into his fresh wounds. Gasping in pain he opened his eyes and tried to move out of the pathway of the relentless waves but he couldn’t, the waves rose again and entered his wounds. He closed his eyes tightly and felt the acid like liquid burn through his stinging body; the pain reminded him of the previous night, of how he ended up on the beach.
The bolt of lightning illuminated the sky but only for a second. As the glow it provided faded the world seemed to plunge back into the black abyss it had been before. The aggressive waves pounded against the frail yacht as it tried to stay afloat in the disturbed waters.
Upon the white yacht was a young man, who was already soaked to the bone and well beyond freezing. He was exhausted, the weather had been like this for hours and for all those hours he had been fighting for his own survival and the survival of his girlfriend who was also on board.
“Charlie!” she called from the doorway of the cockpit, “Charlie, are you there?”
“Yeah, I’m over here,” he replied, another bolt of lighting lit up the sky, for a brief moment Charlies eyes connected with Leah’s.
“Can I help?” she asked loudly over the fierce thunderclap.
“What?” Charlie yelled back.
“I want to help!” Leah yelled.
Charlie weaved his way through the objects that were still on board, walking slowly over to where the cockpit was so he didn’t have to yell as loud.
“Put a harness on! And get a safety line!” he instructed, just loud enough to be heard.
Leah glanced up at the wall to her left. A small lantern was giving off just enough light so Leah could see what she was looking at and what she was doing. Quickly she grabbed one of the two harnesses left on the rack and put it on, making sure it was secure she stepped out onto the slippery deck. Leah tried to keep her balance as she made her way over to the outside rail; she waited for the next bolt of lightning. Once again it lit up the dark sky which had merged with the ocean. As it did so Leah snapped the karabiner on the end of her safety line to the rail, she was now secure.
Charlie felt his way around the boat, trying to make sure that everything was still attached and in the right place. Another bolt of lightning lit up the sky, Charlie turned to see a vast wave approaching the boat.
“Hold on!” he yelled through the darkness.
The freezing water thrashed its way over and through, like it was attacking the boat. Charlie wiped his eyes and looked up but couldn’t see anything, it was then that he realised that it was too dangerous for Leah to stay out on deck.
“Leah!” there was no response so he yelled again, “Leah, can you hear me?”
“Yeah, yeah I can,” she sounded breathless and was coughing up water she had swallowed from the previous wave.
“Leah, I need you to go back into the cockpit! It’s too dangerous out here!”
Charlie watched and waited. He was looking at the dim light produced by the lantern, he was waiting for Leah’s body to block it out, that way he would know that she had gotten back safely. But the light didn’t disappear.
“Charlie! It’s jammed!” Leah screamed. “I can’t get it loose, help!” her voice was piercing though the darkness.
Charlies head was a blurred; he tried to calm down so he could think straight. Another bolt of lightning tore through the sky, as it did so Charlie saw another wave approaching them but this one was different to all the others, it was taller and more fierce, it wasn’t stopping for anything not even the yacht.
“Leah look at me,” his eyes connected with hers as the light began to fade, “You’re going to be alright,” he tried to reassure her; she looked deathly pale with fear.
A strong gust of wind blew into his face; he had to turn his head away so its force wasn’t so hard on him.
“Charlie look out!” Leah shouted, trying to warn her boyfriend.
Charlie looked back up to where Leah was still attached to the boat but saw nothing. The boom had swung around in the wind and before he could duck out of the way it hit him hard in the head. Charlie felt his whole body fall overboard, he heard Leah screaming out his name even though she knew it wouldn’t stop what was happening. The last thing that Charlie heard was the sharp snap made by his safety line breaking. Then all the noises faded and everything around him went quiet, like being in the eye of the storm where it is so still and calm.
The waves climbed further up the sand as Charlie’s body lay still, unable to move. He was breathing heavily, trying to block out the pain.
Once the wave had receded he opened his eyes and tried to pull himself up, to get away from the water which was already starting to rise again. The water washed over him again and all the strength that he had was instantly gone as the pain of the salt water in his wounds started again.
He looked up and around the deserted beach, looking for any sign of life, for someone that might be able to help him. Charlie knew that if he didn’t get out and away from the water he would surely die there.
With his hands he tried to grab the sand and pull himself up, even if it was into a sitting position. He couldn’t stand so he used his whole body and crawled a little way up the beach. It felt as though he was getting dragged over sandpaper.
Charlie began to realise that instead of the water getting into his cuts, now it was the sand because he was hauling himself along the top of it.
With the very little strength that he had left Charlie turned himself so he was lying on his back looking up into the clear blue sky. He rested his hand on his chest but realised that his rain jacket and shirt weren’t wet with just water and sweat, they were also wet with blood.
It became clear to him then that it wasn’t just some ordinary cuts that he had, his entire safety harness was cutting into his skin and whenever he moved it cut a little deeper. Closing his eyes and gritting his teeth he tried to undo the slippery buckle with his already blood stained hands, the pain was excruciating.
No matter what Charlie did or how he twisted the buckle it wouldn’t give. The only thing he was doing was applying more pressure to the harness so it just sliced deeper. He tried to lift his head a little and look at what he was trying to do.
Charlie began to notice that his vision was becoming blurry. Defeated he let his hand slide from the harness onto the warm sand. He closed his eyes, thinking it would be for the last time and slipped into a deep kind off trance.
As he lay there in the dark he started to hear voices, Charlie thought that he was just delusional, he ignored the sounds as they faded, his body lying on the sand motionless.
Charlie twisted his head from side to side, unsure of where he was. Slowly he opened his eyes; he saw that he must have been in some kind of hut made from sticks, clay and canvas. Just across from where he was lying he saw the harness, which had been digging into his skin, draped over a wooden chair, also his ripped and blood stained shirt and water proof jacket. Feeling dazed and confused he closed his eyes, he opened them as a voice caught his attention.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” the female voice asked from the doorway of the hut.
Instantly Charlie tried to sit upright but his cuts were too deep and too painful, he cringed as he lay back down; it felt as though someone had just stabbed him with a sharp knife.
“It’s okay, I won’t hurt you,” she said, stepping towards him.
“Who are you?” Charlie asked, almost breathless.
“My name is Elena; you’re going to be fine. My brother and I found you washed up on the beach, we bought you back to our hut,” she grabbed a bowl and some pieces of material off the table, near where the harness was placed, “You have some pretty substantial cuts, they’re fairly deep.”
“Where, where am I?” Charlie thought he must have been having some kind of strange dream or this was all an illusion and at any moment he would wake up and still be under the sun’s powerful rays lying in the salt water.
“It’s okay; we can talk about that later. What’s you name?” Elena asked politely, she knelt down next to the bed.
Charlie went to speak then paused, for a second he forgot what his name was, “Charlie, Charlie Field,” he said when he remembered.
“Okay Charlie, what I need to do is change the dressing on your wounds so they don’t become infected, is that okay?” Charlie looked into Elena’s dark brown eyes; he wasn’t sure if he should trust this stranger that he had just met.
As if sensing that he was a little unsure Elena continued, “I can do it later if you want.”
“No it’s fine,” Charlie sat up, slowly this time; his whole body was burning with pain. Slowly he lifted the sheet to reveal his wounded body covered in different cloths and dressings over the many gashes.
Elena moved a little closer and began to take the cloths off so she could replace them with fresh ones. Charlie winced as he slowly moved his legs and hung them over the edge of the bed so Elena could get to the cuts easier.
Placing a towel in the bowl of water Elena then rung most of the water out of it so it was moist. She gently dabbed the main wound made by the safety harness, Charlie held his breath trying not to gasp in pain.
“You alright?” she asked once she had finished.
Charlie nodded as Elena placed the fresh dressing over the wound and began to wrap the bandage around Charlie’s body, to hold the white dressing in place.
It took Elena another forty minutes to see to and redress all the other wounds that Charlie had obtained from the yacht accident. She gently pressed the damp towel against the rather large graze on his forehead, Charlie gasped slightly.
“Sorry,” Elena apologized.
“It’s fine,” Charlie lied, knowing that it actually wasn’t. His whole body ached, every bone was crying out for help and the amount of blood that he had lost wasn’t doing his health any favours either. He was so preoccupied thinking about all the aches and pains that he hadn’t heard what Elena had asked him.
“Charlie?” she questioned, bringing him back to reality.
“Yeah,” he said with a slight cough.
“How did this happen?” Elena stood and picked up all the used cloth and the bowl.
“I was umm, sailing my yacht and we hit a storm, I got hit by something and fell overboard,” Charlie frowned slightly as he relived what happened again. The sound of the safety line snapping and Leah screaming kept playing over and over in his mind.
“Was there anyone with you?” Elena’s question tore through his memories.
“Yeah, my girlfriend,” Charlie paused slightly, trying to hold back tears, “Leah.”
A single tear rolled down Charlie’s cheek, Elena walked back over to him and bent down to be at an even height, she placed her hand on his bare arm.
“Hey it’s alright, I’m sure we’ll find her,” Elena said reassuringly.
Charlie wiped the tear away and went to stand up, “I need to look for her, I need to find her,” he was not strong enough yet to hold up his own weight so he fell back onto the bed.
“Whoa, wait a minute,” Elena said standing up, “You need to get some sleep.”
“But I need to find her,” Charlie went to stand again but Elena placed her hands on his shoulders and kept him from moving.
“You can’t go and look for her now, not in your condition.” Elena paused to think for a minute, “Look you stay here and I ask my brother to go and look for her, okay?”
As Charlie lay down on his back he started to recite what Leah looked like but it was like he was in his own world because he wasn’t even looking at Elena.
“She has brown curly hair, and dark brown eyes, brown hair and brown eyes,” it was like he was trying to remind himself of what she looked like and reassure himself so he wouldn’t forget. He was lying there frozen; the only thing that was moving was his mouth, everything else had stopped.
Slowly and gently Elena pulled the light sheet over Charlie as his eyes fluttered and closed.
Charlie slipped away into a deep, peaceful sleep. There was nothing, no visions and no noise; it was just like he was lying in the darkness not even aware of his own existence.