IS IT WRONG TO FEEL THIS WAY?
This story can be and has been misinterpreted as a story about a teenage boy who takes advantage of a preteen girl. It is not. It was intended to be a story of young love. It is a story about two young people who find themselves in an impossible situation. It was intended to question age as defining wisdom. The story never developed beyond that point as I had no clear direction in which to take the story.
Is It Wrong to Feel This Way?
We were leaving from London to Montreal in thirty minutes. My mom and dad and I had been at the London Hilton four months. We had taken the daughter – Amanda Stergo – of an old family friend. School hadn’t been a problem, really; we had private tutors over the summer. We had been in England since May 3rd. It was August 30th today.
Amanda didn’t look too bad for eleven, but she didn’t look too good either. She had bright green eyes that could melt lead or freeze hydrochloric acid – if she learned to use them. Amanda’s cute face was framed by long, light brown curly hair. She was plumpishly cute all over, but not so that she wasn’t attractive. In simple terms: she was an early bloomer.
I combed my auburn hair and stared into my own brown eyes in the mirror, noticing my pimples had almost cleared up. I had only three on my face. The barely visible beard I was trying to grow would have to go or Mother would have a fit. I put the shaving cream on and slowly shaved off my “Shaggy” beard.
After I washed my face I went to help load up the car.
Somehow the 1978 American model Olds Cutlass Calais had never caught on. Rightfully, the car was mine. I’ve got my license. I’m sixteen, I have a good job as a general handy man at our local radio station back in Boston. But the car was a gift. I was hoping for a 300ZX. I’ll probably trade it in, although I’ve got the money for a new one.
“Son,” Dad called. “It’s about time you lent a hand.”
“I was in the bathroom, shaving,” I said.
My father was a hypocrite. My mother was a Philistine; she was always asking what something was when it wasn’t anything, it simply was. She could never accept that.
I picked up the last two suitcases.
“Amanda, dear,” Mother called. “It’s time to go.”
Amanda came running out the front door of Lord Camwell’s estate where we had stayed the last week.
Father and I had gone on Lord Camwell’s hunting estate dozens of times, yet between us we had only killed five deer. Major disappointment. Father was reasonably wealthy for forty. After all, not many men his age have six million dollars. Most of it was inherited, part of it stolen, and only a small fraction was “earned.”
Mother didn’t work. Her blond hair might frizz. Her blue eyes might dilate – Lord forgive! She was a good mother, though. At thirty-five, she had more than one house. This meant she had three. One in Boston, one in Los Angeles and one in Tampa.
Father’s brown eyes searched for the keys for a while. Then, once having found them, he put the ignition key to good use. The car purred like a kitten as it started up. He put it in gear and drove out onto the street. We sat back to enjoy the ride. We now had twenty minutes.
It was a ten-minute drive to London Airport. Once there, I noticed it was as crowded as usual. We got out of the car as a man with a trolly came round back of the car.
“Take them to that private plane,” ordered Father. We had customs clearance.
The porter took our bags to a single engine six seater with the call letters NC1708. Father called it all sorts of names, including “Bessie.” In fact, the word “Bessie” was painted on both sides. Father gave pet names to almost everything. The most ridiculous thing was his calculator, named “George.”
We got into the tiny craft after the luggage had been loaded.
“Buckle up,” said Father.
He then got clearance from the tower to take off. Soon we were speeding down the runway and were airborne in no time. Bessie had pulled through.
Father turned on the weather radio.
“… with a seventy-two percent chance of thundershowers over the North Atlantic …” was the first thing we heard. The radio crackled with static. The BBC’s weather news wasn’t coming in very clear. The announcer continued. “Tonight’s low will be around thirty-five, tomorrow’s high around sixty. But with that ten-mile-an-hour wind, it’ll seem much colder. Travelers are warned not to take small planes out tonight. That storm will be a big one. That’s all for now. We’ll keep you posted. Now for the BBC top forty.”
Father turned off the radio. He and Mother hated rock music. Hank Williams, Jr. and Willie Nelson turned them on. Amanda and I liked Cyndi Lauper and Genesis and such.
“It’s going to be a long trip home,” said Father. “You two better find a game or something to keep you entertained. And no playing doctors and nurses, Joe.”
“You gotta be kiddin’,” I said, trying to sound sick. He was only kidding and I was playing along.
“You two are sick,” protested Amanda. She was pretty smart for eleven but still innocent.
Well all laughed.
“There’s a Trivial Pursuit game under the back seat and a TV table somewhere back there if you want to play,” said Mother.
Amanda and I looked at each other for a moment. We shrugged our shoulders, unbuckled our seat belts and went to the back to find the game and the table. We found them and set the table and game up. Trivial Pursuit is interesting and can even be informative. But after a while it can get boring.
We had two pieces of pie each when the storm hit us.
The storm hit the plane hard. Amanda and I had forgotten to buckle our seat belts and were thrown out of our seats. We got back into them and buckled up.
“You kids hand tight,” warned Mother. “This is going to be rough.”
We hit the turbulence like a brick wall. Father fought to keep the plane straight. He was winning, but with a sudden flash of lightening, control was impossible. I looked out the window and saw why. The lightening has hit the rudder. The plane was going down.
Mother added her weight to the wheel to pull it back in order to pull the nose of the plane up. Through the darkness, with the aid of the lightening, I could see the cold, dark Atlantic coming closer.
“We’re going to hit!” I screamed. “Fuck the wheel and get back here!” But Mom and Dad were deaf. Their intentions were good but it was hopeless.
The struck the water with incredible impact. Amanda and I had the breath knocked out of us for a moment. I was appalled to see Mother and Father thrown through the windshield. Water gushed through the opening, flooding the plane and causing it to sink faster.
Amanda and I held our breath long enough to get out of the plane and onto the surface. Once on the surface we could breathe again. The rain was terrible; the storm was only getting worse.
“What happened to your mom and dad?” Amanda yelled. “Where are they?”
She hadn’t seen.
“They’re,” I paused to let the impact of it sink in. I couldn’t cry now. I had a responsibility to Amanda to get her to safety.
“No,” she stammered. “No, no, no!”
“We can’t cry now, hon. Wait til we’re somewhere safe.”
“How? It’s cold, dark. We don’t even know where we are. How are we going to get home?”
“I didn’t say home.”
Then I noticed my foot hit something. I put my foot down on it. I was standing on the plane’s wing.
“Amanda, the plane’s stopped sinking!” I said.
“So what,” she cried.
“Listen,” I tried to calm her. As upset as I was I could keep a level head about me, which I inherited from my father. “If the plane’s stopped sinking, then it must be on the bottom. If the plane is on the bottom, then there must be an island near by. It may be a long swim. You want to try or sit here crying?”
“Okay. I’ll try. But I can’t swim very well.”
“It’s okay. Just tell me when you get tired and I’ll carry you.”
We started swimming for what I hoped was safety. Volcanic activity had been reported in the area only a month ago. If we came upon a newly forming island, we could be in trouble.
But when the lightening provided light enough to see, I saw a perfectly calm island or the outline, at least. After another ten minutes we hit the beach.
“We’re safe,” Amanda said, “but not dry. I’m freezing.”
The sky brightened for a moment. I thought I saw a cave. It may have been a rock. It might be worth a look.
“Let’s look over there,” I said.
“Where?” asked Amanda.
“Come on.” I took her hand and lead her to the thing I saw. It was a cave, after all. We went in to find it a little low but comfortable. But best of all it was uphill so it was dry except for the entrance.
“This is where we’ll sleep tonight,” I said.
“But we’re still wet and I’m cold,” whined Amanda.
“Oh, great,” I thought to myself. “Joe Remington, what have you gotten yourself into?”
“Then we’ll have to snuggle up close to keep warm,” I suggested.
“What about our wet clothes?” Amanda asked.
I thought for a moment. What were the safety rules about hypothermia? If a person is conscious but wet, have them take their clothes off. Was that it? And if it was, would Amanda go for the idea of having her clothes off in front of me, when I personally had my scruples about it. I asked about it.
“Won’t we be even colder?” she asked.
“Not if we get far enough up it the cave and use our clothes as cover.”
“I don’t know if I want to,” she said.
“Neither do I,” I told her. I decided to be as honest as I could with her. “It’s either that or freeze.”
“Let’s get it over with then,” she sighed.
I grinned and shook my head.
We took our clothes off, except for our under clothes and lied down on the rocky floor, using our clothes as cover. Amanda snuggled as close as she dared. In simple terms, she didn’t touch me. I had to do the rest. I snuggled closely to her, almost getting inside her. Her little body was warm as toast.
“You’re warm,” she said, getting closer.
These were the last conscious thoughts I had as I slipped into a deep sleep. But the dreams I had couldn’t have been more perverted. I dreamt that Amanda and I had our own sexual paradise. These dreams, as dirty as they were, didn’t wake me. They soon passed.
The next thing I know, I’m waking up beside Amanda. She was still asleep. I got up and put my still-damp clothes on. It wasn’t much warmer. But according to my watch – thank god it was waterproof – it was 8:35. I guess it was about sixty degrees. There was a slight breeze.
After I was dressed, I walked outside to see where we were. It was a small island. As far as I could tell, we were on the US side of the International Date-Line. My watch said September 1.
Maybe it would get warmer during the day, I hoped. It was still summer. It had to get warmer.
“Joe, where are you?” Amanda called.
“I’m outside,” I told her. “Come on out. The weather’s nice.”
“I’m not coming out butt naked!” she protested.
“Then get dressed and come out.”
After waiting ten minutes, Amanda came out.
“It’s cold!” she exclaimed. Amanda has always been great at pointing out the obvious.
“No shit,” I answered sarcastically.
“Let’s walk around the island,” she suggested.
“We don’t know how big it is,” I said. The truth was I didn’t want to wall around the island. I was just too plain lazy.
“We won’t know until we’ve done it, will we?” she asked cleverly. Very smart that Amanda.
“Come on, then,” I sighed. It was better not to argue with her. After all, what harm could come from a short walk. Very dumb question as I would soon find out.
We started to the left of the cave and walked to the beach. It was a small grassy island with hills the size of small mountains and a lake on one of those hills. A stream ran down hill away from the cave and into the ocean.
I bent to taste the water. It was crystal clear and ice cold. But best of all it was pure. It wasn’t salt water.
“I’ll be damned!” I exclaimed. “It’s pure spring water.”
“So,” Amanda said. She obviously didn’t care. But it had been a boring walk.
I said down on a small hill just outside the cave to rest.
“It’s 11:52, Amanda,” I said. “We walked for three hours.”
“I know.” She was squinting. Had was missed something?
“What’s that?” she asked.
I squinted to see. I couldn’t make it out. “I don’t know.”
There was something on the beach we had missed. Actually, we had missed that part of the beach altogether.
“Let’s go see,” said Amanda. She ran off to whatever it was. I ran after her.
She stopped short of it and turned around, her face full of tears. As soon as I was up to her I saw why. The thing on the beach was our plane. The windshield was broken, the rudder was gone. Everything else was in order.
I held her for a moment, trying to comfort her and hold back my own tears at the memory of my parents’ deaths.
“Come on, Amanda,” I said. I had remembered the equipment in the plane might still be good. “I’m going to try the radio.”
I started toward the plane. Amanda held back for a moment then ran up beside me. She had stopped crying.
I opened the door and was greeted by ten gallons of water and three fish. I tried the radio but it didn’t work. It definitely wasn’t waterproof. I went to the cargo storage in the back of the plane. I opened the door, again only to be greeted by water. I climbed inside and tossed out our suitcases. Then I tossed out the tools.
After I climbed out of the cargo space, Amanda and I opened the eight suitcases.
“Everything’s soaked,” said Amanda.
“We’ll have to make a clothes line,” I said.
“Out of what?” asked Amanda. “Dental floss?” she said, holding up a pack of floss.
“Nope,” I said, trying not to jump down her throat. “This aluminum wire.” I held a bundle of wire.
“How long will it take the clothes to dry once we hang ‘em out?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Probably all day tomorrow. If it gets as hot as it is now.” It had warmed up considerably since earlier. It was about eighty-five degrees. It was also 12:30. We hadn’t eaten since yesterday morning.
“I’m hungry, Joe,” said Amanda.
“I’ll see what I can do.”
I began looking through one of Father’s suitcases. At first it didn’t seem quite right. But there was something we would need to live. Inside one of his suitcases was a small leather case. The contents of the case was a dismantled “easy-assembled” rod and reel. I had one in my own suitcase.
I took a long leather gun case-like case and unzipped it. It was my long bow and about twenty arrows.
“These mean our survival,” I told Amanda.
“Come on,” I told Amanda. “Let’s get all this together.”
We made two trips to the cave with our suitcases. When we got everything we needed I asked her to help me … well … to …
“Did up worms?” she shouted. “Never!”
“Do you want to eat?” I said. I had planned to use psychology on her. Ha!
“I don’t even like fish,” she said when I implied that old “ya-don’t-work-ya-don’t-eat principle.
“Then starve!” I said. It was time to be cold as ice. “See if you eat sea weed over an open fire.”
“Gross! You’re sick!”
“It’s positively delicious,” I told her. I wasn’t lying but not necessarily telling her the truth either. The fact was I had never eaten seaweed, roasted or otherwise.
Amanda gave me a look. I thought I heard her swear.
“What?” I asked, trying to embarrass her.
“Never mind,” she grinned. Amanda was red in the face.
“Amanda, you can say anything you want when you’re with me. There’s nobody to tell. What did you say?”
She was still red and grinning. Amanda looked at the ground.
She very faintly whispered, “You promise?”
“Oh, for pity’s sake!” I started.
“I said ‘shit’!” She wasn’t red anymore.
“Very good. Now help me find some worms.”
Amanda sighed and began to dig.
After we had found enough worms, we went back to the beach. I put the worm on my hook and one on Amada’s. She refused to touch them. When we were digging she only pointed them out.
Surprisingly enough the first person to catch a fish was Amanda. I caught the next two and she caught another. We decided four was enough and went back to the cave.
Amanda had laid a shirt on the ground earlier. We put our catch on it.
“Now we need a fire,” she said.
“Right,” I agreed.
We set out to find all the grass, twigs and small sticks we could. After some time we returned to the cave with our collection.
I sat down in front of a small circle of twigs and grass. I took Mother’s old lighter out her purse, which I had found in the cabin of the plane. It still worked! How, I don’t know but who cares.
It took awhile but I got a fire going so we roasted fish and drank water from hollowed out coconut shells.
I had cleaned the fish with old hunting knife. I used a hacksaw on the coconuts. I gutted the fish with my knife.
The fire gave off good light. Good enough to see the words in a book if you were close enough. Amanda had found an old blue composition book and a half used pencil. She found a new pencil later on. I decided to record our stay on the island. It went something like this:
September 1, 1986 – Monday.
We, Amanda and I, have crashed on an island somewhere in the North Atlantic. Mom and Dad are dead, but the suitcases from the plane are dry now – most of the contents anyway. We found my rod and reels and my bow. We had fried fish and water for supper. Home is a long ways away. Already I miss the comforts of our two-story Victorian style house in Boston. Amanda misses her parents, I’m sure. I’m not very emotional so I can’t say very much in sentiment.
This was cold, true enough, but to the point. I don’t think it gets any better; certainly not any worse.
Amanda asked the question I was hoping she’d save for a while. But I knew it was coming.
“Are we going to see home again?”
I didn’t want to lie or try to sound too optimistic but not pessimistic either.
“I don’t know,” was all I could say.
After another hour or so of talking about what we were going to do tomorrow, Amanda and I went to sleep. We had discussed a proper fire pit, doors for the cave, new arrows and some spears, and torches for the cave.
How we would get all that done in one day was beyond me. I decided to wait and see what would turn up. Soon I was asleep. We had a more comfortable bed this time, and warmer. But we didn’t need the warmth. It was a hot, lazy summer night.
But those dreams came back. Amanda enjoyed what was being done to her. This nearly drove me berserk. Yet once again, I fell asleep. I was tired. The dreams persisted all night but didn’t bother me. I wondered if Amanda had such dreams. It could wait until tomorrow morning.
Amanda woke up first. By the time I woke up she had a nice fire going. When I asked why she replied that she wanted to try seaweed. I grimaced.
“Okay,” I said.
I got up and got dressed. Then I walked down to the beach to collect some seaweed. When I got back, Amanda had taken some of the small stones that littered the cave and arranged them around the fire. She had laid some thick limbs across the fire.
“Instant stove!” she said.
“Very good,” I complemented. “That’s neat.”
I laid the seaweed across the sticks like bacon. After nearly an hour, we had fried seaweed. It wasn’t bad, not good either, but not bad. Since I had said it was “absolutely delicious” I had to make the best of it. Amanda was easy to convince.
Once we had eaten the seaweed, we cleared off a spot to make a proper pit.
“I’ll be back in a while,” I told Amanda.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“To the plane to get the propeller.”
“Why do you need that?”
“I need a shovel,” I told her.
I went to get the prop. I took a crescent wrench with me. I had a hammer and two screwdrivers to boot. The first I did was unscrew the nut cover. Then, I took the nuts off the prop. And last I knocked the prop off the rod. I took the prop back to the cave.
“Now for the real work,” I said.
It was only 10:30 when I started cutting the prop in half. I had to cut it so that the hole where the rod from the engine went was cut in half to make a neat handle.
Amanda came in with two fish and some seaweed. She had only been gone an hour. She placed it all on the shirt we had used before.
I took one half of the cut prop and began to plow the ground. After a while I raked the dirt onto another shirt. Amanda took the dirt outside and dumped it. It took two hours and dozens of trips outside before we had a pit three feet wide and about a foot and a half deep. It was round and smooth.
Amanda got the stones and placed them around the hole. I got two long, thick, strong sticks each with a V-shaped fork in one end. I whittled the opposite ends to a long point and stuck them in the shallow holes beside the pit. There was one hole on either side.
I took a longer stick and put it in the fork of each stick to make a spit. I took the wire and tied another stick with a small branch on one side to the long stick to make the handle. How long it would work I didn’t know.
I cleaned and gutted the fish after a good fire had been started. I laid the fish across the sticks that went across the pit. After a while we had fish. The seaweed was “dessert.” The water helped in that area. In simple terms, I burned the seaweed.
It was 7:00 by the time we had finished with the fire pit and had eaten. I put another entry in the log. In the log, I recorded everything that had happened and how. I refrained from saying anything about what I dreamt last night. Or my feelings toward Amanda. I know it doesn’t right but I feel something strange toward her. The way she’s willing to help with even the most mundane chore. The way she looks in my eyes when she is about to argue is cute. Her little face and body are every eleven or twelve-year-olds dream. But I’m sixteen! Why should I – how could I – possibly – fall in love with an eleven year old girl? Ha!
But all the same, the feeling was there. This bugged me a little. If we got back – and that’s a big “if” – how would I explain why she would kiss me in an adult manner (French kissing) willingly? Or even worse.
Suppose one morning Amanda’s mother walked into her room to find Amanda and I asleep in the same bed naked. Try to explain that. Ha! I could say that we both liked to sleep naked and I fell asleep talking or reading. Amanda’s mother would never go for that.
All these things went through my head in five minutes. I finished the entry in the log and put out the fire. Tomorrow Amanda and I would have to figure out how to make some torches.
Just then Amanda stretched out and gave a tremendous sigh.
“Me, too,” I said, understanding her boredom.
“Joe, can I ask you a personal question?” asked Amanda.
“You can ask me anything you like,” I said. I didn’t want to keep any secrets. After all, who could I tell?
“Are you a virgin?”
I wasn’t expecting that of an eleven year old.
“Yeah,” I confessed. “But if Rhoda doesn’t give up on me, I won’t remain one, fortunately.”
“What is a virgin?”
I almost laughed.
“A person who hasn’t had sex,” I answered.
“Oh.” There was an uncomprehending look on her face.
“Do you know what sex is?” I asked.
“Yes.” She sounded almost angry.
“Explain it,” I said.
“It’s when a boy and a girl strip and play with each others privates.”
“Close,” I said.
“Then you explain it.”
Oh, shit. I should have known better.
“Let it wait until tomorrow.”
We went to sleep.
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