Dinner consisted of pan seared sea bass seasoned with lemon peel, honey, ginger, and a healthy dose of black pepper, served with fingerlings in dill butter and the firmest green peas I had ever eaten, followed by a cold vanilla custard topped with blackberries. This was island food at its finest, finally. Miranda appeared at my side, tea cup in hand. “Your majesty,” she whispered as she lowered the cup. Before it reached the table, the cup shattered spraying tea and porcelain shards over myself, Miranda and the table. I looked down at my empty custard dish, grateful she had been slow with the tea.
“What the…” Miranda yelled. I picked up my napkin, shaking the bits of cup into my bowl, and used it to wipe the moisture off the table. My brain stuck on replay as I tried to figure out what happened. The commotion moved around me. I heard voices but I was thinking too hard to listen. “Lanie,” Thomas shook my arms. The spell was broken. I smiled at Thomas who had crouched next to me. “Are you hurt?” I shook my head. I let him lead me out of the room.
Most of the group gathered in the dayroom. I stopped in the doorway. The conversation had moved from the incident to the incompetence of the staff. I had no stomach for it. “I think I’ll head for bed.” Thomas followed me to my room. “What,” I asked. My voice soft.
“Are you okay?” He pressed his hand to my cheek. I held it there.
“I’m fine, just confused. It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen and I thought I’d seen a lot of weird things.” I let his hand drop. “I think I just want some time alone.”
“You are always alone. Why don’t you let me in?” His eyes sparkled green.
I reached up and played with his hair. “I need to be alone so I don’t do things I will regret later. You know that none of this is real.”
His body was close to mine, his lips almost touching mine. “Are you sure?” I breathed him in before resting my forehead on his. I closed my eyes. “It’s never real,” I said before pulling away and closing the door.
I waited until all the sounds of life in the house had stilled before making my way to the library. I had, finally, gotten to the journal I had been desiring. Beatrice was in my hands. I had dangled her book like a carrot to keep moving forward. On the shelf were the remaining six journals, how would I convince myself to read those before I ran away?
My time on the island taught me the most important lesson, sometimes wishes should not come true. I am hollow, a shell of the woman I should have been. It had been happening for ages but, here on the island, it was complete. Is this how Marian’s mother felt? Did she dream of diving into the water and swimming until it swallowed her up?
Will the words I write on this page make a difference? I wonder what wisdom I could impart. I am, now, thirteen years of age. I have lived my life on the island. Our population dwindles. There are only two families remaining but I don’t believe we will survive. Our time here has only delayed the inevitable.
I talk with the fishermen and the merchants that come this way. There is a world out there that is changing. We are not alone nor are we as isolated. My brother, Daniel, has gone off to school on the mainland. I wish to join him. My parents say it is no place for a woman. I laugh because I sleep with my door locked to keep me safe at night. I don’t believe the lock is anything more than a symbol. No one will come to harm me as I sleep. I see how things are here and I know they are wrong. My brother sends me books. So many new thoughts. Oh and the inventions. I want to see this new world out there.
Daniel sent me the book Frankenstein. Imagine a world where monsters are actually talked about and not always feared. I gave it to my father thinking we would have the most amazing conversation but he tossed it in the fireplace saying that sort of thing will get us killed. I disagree. Even at thirteen, I know we are meant for more. Daniel says he will not come back to the island. Life is better away. I will join him someday, somehow. My children will not be born on this island.
I knew there was a reason I connected to Beatrice all those years ago when I read the journal she began after reaching the “new world”. She had been so full of hope about our potential. I believed her. I believed I was meant for more, once I could figure out what that was. What am I for? What are any of us for? Biology tells us we are designed to survive, procreate. Did Beatrice feel guilty for wanting to be something more?