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by L. H. Hall

Chapter 2 - Aches and Pains


by L. H. Hall

Chapter 2

Aches and Pains

Every nerve in my body shrieked with pain when I awoke, but I knew I had to find water and food, or we would still die. I was the oldest, and until we found someone to help us, it was up to me to take care of the others. "God! I don't know what to do! You're going to have to lead me and show me which way to go and what to do," I prayed.

I sat up and looked around. Sarah was already awake. Before the tragedy she had been a pretty little girl maybe just a little small for her eight and a half years. She had long dark brown hair, a dark complexion, bright smiling brown eyes, and a perpetual smile between her dimpled cheeks, without a care in the world. Now, the smiles were gone. Blood and tears streaked her dirty, salt-covered face. Seaweed entwined her tangled hair. Her frilly blue dress was in shreds. It had definitely not been designed for the torture it had been through, but what had? She sat quietly weeping, looking out over the sea.

Seven-year-old Debbie, with her shoulder length, brown, tangled hair, and blond, curly headed Julie, almost six, lay sleeping some twenty feet beyond Sarah. Debbie and Julie both closely resembled Sarah. They had similar smiling brown eyes, bright smiles, dimples and soft rosy complexion. That was before the tragedy. Now, there was no beauty. Their bruised, bleeding, twisted bodies, huddled together on the beach. The new dresses they had been so proud of, bought especially for the trip to Grandma's, like Sarah's, were rags. I thought they were dead when I first looked at them; but then, I saw them breathing and heard them whimpering and crying in their troubled sleep. They're alive. At least we have hope. How many of their bones are broken? "God! What are we going to do?" Suddenly, the whole world landed on my shoulders. I realized the magnitude of my responsibility. What am I going to do? How can I save these children? God! You gotta help me!

My little brother Jamie, who was almost eight, slept a few feet beyond the girls. He was much smaller than I, but was often accused of being my miniature twin; we looked so much alike. He was a little fairer, had a few more freckles across the bridge of his nose, and his sandy hair had a little more red than mine. All five of us were thin, but had that well fed look. Jamie was also breathing and whimpering for our mother in his sleep. His body, though bruised and bleeding, did not appear to be broken and twisted like the two smaller girls.

I looked at myself. I was not in much better condition. My pants were in shreds. One shirt sleeve was missing, and the other might as well have been. My arms and legs were scraped and bleeding. I had one deep cut in the big muscle on the side of my right thigh. It ran from just below my shorts to my knee. I knew my leg hurt, but I had not realized that I was cut and bleeding that badly.

"Are you going to be all right?" I crawled over to Sarah.

"I think so, but I don't know what to do. I want my momma and daddy."

"They aren't here, Sarah. Besides me, you are the oldest. We've got to be brave, and take care of the others 'til we can find grownup help. I prayed that God would help us."

"Do you think He will? I've never prayed for anything like that before. I just say my, 'Lay me down to sleep' prayer, before I go to bed."

"Sure He will! He answers my dad's prayers all the time. Now that Dad's gone, He'll answer mine, and yours too. He knows the mess we're in. Let's wake the others and go find some fresh water. My throat is on fire."

"Mine too, but I don't know if I can get up. I hurt so bad!"

"I know how you feel, but if we stay here, we'll soon be too weak to find water. We'll all die. We need to go as soon as possible."

Sarah painfully crawled the few feet to Julie and Debbie, and I managed to get to my feet and walk the short distance to Jamie. My leg screamed with pain every step I took, but I had to go on.

"Mommy? Where's Mommy? I'm hungry! I want my Mommy! It hurts! I'm thirsty!" Julie awoke, crying. "I want my Mommy!"

"Oh! Mommy, I'm so sick! Help me Momma!" Debbie joined in. "Where's Momma, Sarah?"

"Momma's not here." Sarah tried to comfort the little girls. "I want Momma too, but she isn't here."

"Where is she?" Julie wiped the tears from her face.

"Out there in the ocean, I guess." Sarah began to weep again. "She's not here."

"Is she drownded?" Debbie asked.

"I don't know. I hope not." Sarah gazed longingly out over the sea.

"No! No! Mommy's not drownded! Mommy's not dead! I want my Mommy! I want my Mommy!" Julie's crying intensified.

Momma is not here! And I don't think she's coming!" Sarah still tried to comfort her sisters. "I'm gonna have to be your mommy now, and Timmy will be your daddy 'til we find some grownups to help us. It'll be just like when we play house, but this time it's for real. You have to do what we say."

"I don't want to play house! I don't want Timmy to be my daddy! And you're not my Mommy!" Debbie cried emphatically. "I want my real mommy and daddy!"

While this was going on, I was having my own problems trying to comfort Jamie. He too wanted his momma and daddy. I was glad that I only had one brother. But I didn't just have one brother. I also had three little girls to care for. Apparently the little girls did not have any broken bones. They were moving around all right. "God, what am I going to do?" I prayed.

Then, with an angry tone in my voice, I stood up. "Do you kids want to die?"

"No," the helpless girls admitted between their broken hearted sobs.

"That's what's gonna happen if we don't find some water and food! Sarah said that me and her's gonna be the Momma and Daddy, and you have to mind us. That's the way it is! Now shut up! Get up! And let's go find some water we can drink!" Why did I say that? That's not something I would say. That sounds mean. I don't feel that way. I frowned, pondering what I had said, but my countenance supported the tone in my voice.

Whimpering, they all got to their feet. "I gotta go pee," Julie complained.

"Me too," the others said in chorus.

"Go then!" My tone didn't soften. It puzzled me. I wanted to cry with them, but I sounded angry. "You'll just have to go. There is not any bathroom, or even something to hide behind. Us boys will look one way, and you girls look the other."

"But I can't go this way." Julie began to cry again. "I gotta sit down."

"I'll help you," Sarah offered. "You're gonna have to learn to squat."

With the necessities taken care of, I felt in my pocket. It was still there, my most prized possession, my compass with a magnifying glass. Dad had given it to me a month earlier for my ninth birthday along with the promise to take me hiking on Mt. Hood when we got home. Now it would be very valuable, especially the magnifying glass, because I could start a fire with it.

I looked at the compass. The beach ran east and west. We were on the north shore. I looked at the sun; it was high in the western sky. That meant it must be early afternoon. It had been almost twenty-four hours since we had eaten, but most important was water. Where could I look for water? A hundred yards or more from the shore were mountains with trees and brush on them, but that did not mean there would be any water. "God," I prayed, "which way do we go?" Then, I remembered that streams and rivers always flow into the ocean. Maybe there would be a little river flowing down from the mountains. If we followed the beach, we might find one. I looked at my compass again, and decided to walk eastward. "C'mon, let's go this way." I started to lead my crying family along the beach.

As I did, there was a terrible commotion in the ocean. The dolphins that had been playing off shore, were standing on their tails chattering, like they were trying to tell us something. Then, they would flop back into the water, always swimming westward. When we stopped to watch, they would settle down, but as soon as we started to go on, the commotion got worse again.

"I think they are trying to tell us to go the other way," Sarah suggested.

"Naw. Let's go." I started on. The chattering began again.

"Wait." Sarah turned around, walking the other direction. "Let's go back a few steps, and see what happens."

"All right!" I limped after her. My leg was killing me. I did not want to backtrack. We turned around and started the other direction. The dolphins settled down and swam along with us. Once, just to see what would happen, we turned around and went back a few steps. Sure enough the dolphins got excited again.

I could not go on. The cut on my leg was gaping open and bleeding. "You gotta help me Sarah." I fell to the sand and tore one of the widest shreds from my pant's leg, and Sarah helped me wrap it tightly around my thigh. We tied it in place with a couple of string-like shreds. I got up then and found it much less painful. It still hurt like fire, but the support of the bandage helped and kept it from bleeding so badly.

We continued walking west for, maybe, a half hour when the beach turned a little to the south. It was like the island had come to a point there at one time, but somebody had taken a huge knife and cut off the point right down to sea level, and left a sheer cliff rising up from the narrow beach. Near the middle of the cliff was a waterfall. Everyone started for the fresh water.

"Wait! Let me see if it's good to drink." I stepped into the little pool where the water fell and tasted it. It was salty, but not as salty as the ocean. Then I caught some of the falling water in my hands. It was fresh and cool. "C'mon." I stepped under the waterfall and let it flow over my sore body. The others joined me. We were in a frenzy fighting for the water. It fell so far, it hurt when it hit us, but we soon got used to it. It was not long before we started to feel better. I removed the bandage from my leg, and let the running water wash the salt and sand from the wound. I washed the bandage and tore some ragged strips from Julie's white skirt, to put against my wound, and washed them.

The beach was wet, and as Sarah and I rebandaged my leg, I saw bubbles in the sand. I knew that could mean clams. I showed the others, and we started digging. The two smaller girls were too slow, but before long Jamie, Sarah and I had a couple dozen clams.

That should be enough for now." I picked up several, looking for a rock to break them. "I hope you like raw clams."

"Yuk!" Sarah gagged. "We can't eat'em raw."

"All right! You're the momma!" The idea was repulsive to me too. "You can cook'em!"

"But, I don't know how."

"Neither do I. If you're hungry enough, you'll eat'em raw. I've heard lots of people like'em best that way." My voice still sounded angry. I did not feel that way.

"How are we going to open them?" Jamie asked.

"Like this." I laid one on a large rock, and hit it with another.

There was a lot of gagging and choking, but it wasn't long until the clams were gone. We tried to dig some more, but the holes filled with water as fast as we could dig. I realized the tide was coming in, and probably, this beach would be covered with water in a little while.

"C'mon." I started back the way we had come. "Let's go to the top of the waterfall. The tide is coming in. This beach will be flooded in a few minutes."

"How do we get up there?" Sarah asked.

"We'll go back around the corner of the beach, and climb up the mountain. Let's go." My leg hurt so badly; I wanted to sit down and cry, but I had to keep going. Four children depended on me. Only God could have given me the supernatural courage, strength, determination and maturity to put the needs of others ahead of my own desires.

When we got to the top of the cliff, we could see up the beach where we had landed and a long way out to sea. There was nothing but water, sand and jungle. Nothing moved on the side of the mountain, but birds. Occasionally, we heard the scurrying of small animals. It was enough to frighten us. We didn't know what kind of wild creatures we might find. Jamie was just sure we would be attacked by lions and tigers and bears all at the same time. That really frightened the girls, but I told them God did not save us from the sea to be eaten by wild animals. Just the same I would try to light a fire to keep the wild animals away when we found a place to camp.

"How are you going to do that?" asked Sarah.

"By magic. The sun is going to come down here and set some dry leaves on fire."

"Oh, sure it will."

"It will. Just wait and see. I'll use the sun to start a fire."

When we got to the stream, we found it was not a good place to camp. I was disappointed because I thought we'd be in a place near water, where we could look out over the beach, but the undergrowth was too thick. It almost covered the stream. I looked down over the waterfall. The waves were already lapping against the cliff wall, and there were our life jackets floating in the surf. It was the first time I had thought about them since we had taken them off to take a shower. I had meant to keep them because they might be useful for something, but it was too late. I knew I could not get back down there before they floated away, and I would not consider leaving the others alone in the jungle.

"Look at all the beautiful flowers." Debbie picked some and poked the stems into her matted hair. "Don't I look beautiful?"

I paused a moment to look. Debbie had found the one bright thing about the place. I had not even noticed the abundance of color, but I could not help appreciating the beauty of the jungle. Flowers, large and small of every conceivable color, adorned the drab brown and green underbrush. "Yeah, they do make you look prettier, Debbie."

The stream was not very deep, but the rocks were hard on our tender bare feet. Out of ten shoes that had left the wing of the airplane, only one, Jamie's, had made it to shore, and he discarded it when he awakened.

We waded up the stream that snaked generally to the southeast, hoping to find a good place to build a camp. I looked at the sun. It was beginning to settle in the west. We still had a few hours before dark; however, if I was going to start a fire it had to be soon.

Jamie and the girls were so good. They, too, must have had divine help. I knew they hurt as badly as I did, but they did not complain much as they followed me. I wished that I were as confident as they seemed to be. I did not know what we were going to do, and they all expected me to know everything.

"I'm not going to wear this thing anymore." Sarah removed her dress and threw it into the brush.

"Why not?" I asked.

"It got caught on a limb again, and tore all the way up to my armpit. It's so ragged, it doesn't cover me up anymore."

"Me neither," Debbie and Julie both slipped out of their ragged dresses.

"You'd better keep them," I advised. "They will help protect you from the sun, if you get sunburned. They're not torn too badly where the life jackets were. That's the main part that gets sunburned."

"All right, but we're going to carry them," Sarah relented.

"I'm going to take my rags off too." Jamie stripped to his underwear. "I wish I had my shoes, though."

"I think we all do." I rolled my own rags into a bundle. "It would be easier to walk without these rags catching on everything, but the brush will probably scratch us."

"I don't think I could hurt any more than I do now," Debbie maintained.

"Me neither," Julie agreed.

Within minutes after we had removed our rags, we rounded a bend to find a pool over a couple hundred feet long and maybe sixty feet wide at one point. At the far end, a thin sheet of water was falling over another rock cliff about twenty feet high. Above that, there were no trees except way on up the steep, rocky mountain. "If we can only get up there, I think we will find a place to make a camp," I observed. "Sarah you stay in the back, and make sure the others don't fall in."


We made our way around the west edge of the pool. Most of the time there was room to walk on the bank, but a couple of times we had to get into the water to pass an outcropping of rocks and brush. One time I stepped into a hole over my head and had to swim a few feet. At that point I gave Sarah what was left of one leg of my trousers and I held the other, while Julie pulled herself across. The other children were able to swim the few feet.

"You're gonna have to learn to swim."

I helped Julie get her balance on the shallow ledge. About twenty feet before we got to the cliff, a trail branched off to the right. Actually it was more like a tunnel through the brush. We had to bend over and crawl through it. The trail led to the south or southwest for a few yards, then turned southeast again. A few more yards and we came out of the brush onto solid rock. It was rough going because we had to climb over some big rock ledges to get to where the stream was flowing, but we finally made it, and it was worth all the trouble.

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Copyright 1995
Leonard H. Hall, Sr.

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