from the collection of: d. heidel

“Your Own Island,” is what the ad said.

Win the fellowship and you get your own island.  Not much more than a shifting spot of sand off the coast of North Carolina, sure.  But still – Your Own Island.

He’d won.

And there he sat.

A flat of sand about two hundred yards long, fifty yards wide.  A house built at its center.  A house built of cheap lumber, cheaper siding, a roof that had maybe a five-year warrantee.  It looked good – the siding was manufactured with a faded-cedar-shake kind of look.  But the whole thing was made with a handful of nickels so that when the next hurricane came through and erased all the work, returned the island to sand and washed-up sea dollars, and scrub grass, it wouldn’t be missed by any investor.  The lumber, the siding, the roof would live then out at sea.  The lumber, the siding, the roof would no longer be lumber, siding, and roof, but rather scraps of unidentifiable material, bleeding whatever haphazard treatment they’d been given in the factory out into the forgetfulness of salt water.  A fish might peck curiously at a waterlogged piece of artificial faded-cedar-shake as it hung between the shimmering surface and the gloomy depths, between the air and eternal dark.  The piece of flotsam would slowly off-gas whatever small amounts of air was still caught between its fibers and sink slowly and evermore downward.  So, too, with the rest of the lumber, the siding, the roof.  All the pieces scattered, turning an alien color as sealant and bits of caulk and formaldehyde react with salt and water.

But for now, it was a house.  Built on an island that, itself, was here.

He sat on the folding lawn chair he’d brought with him.  He’d killed the lights inside the house.  Gas was getting low.  Budd would be out tomorrow with more fuel, more supplies.  But for now, he didn’t need the AC, didn’t need the computer, didn’t need even the bulbs that buzzed inside and out.  So, he’d opened the main breaker, killed the generator.  He checked his phone – still about 50% left on the battery.

He’d gotten the fellowship.  And with it, his own island.

He’d won.