Standing in a small port harbour, Ralph was gazing out the small cobwebbed window. Now in a world so foreign, he was not only overwhelmed by the civilization surrounding him but was indulging his new and strange habit of thinking. He was thinking about who he was, because he now found he didn’t know. His life before the Island had been very different than life on it; he hadn’t lead any large groups or been hunted before but was generally a leader in the fact that his ideas often sounded the most fun. But he was different now. Would he return to that happy, naïve little boy or would he forever be compelled to assess situations thoroughly and wade through the thick thoughts in his brain whishing they were ordered better, as an adults? Were people inside just the same as a face from different angles of light? If people could be changed forever in such a short time, how could anyone know anyone else, or know who they would be tomorrow?
“It’s not how you remember it, is it?”
Surprised and dumbfounded by the interruption, Ralph didn’t understand immediately what Jack was saying.
“England, I mean,” he added, “It seemed so much more… Simple when I tried to remember it before. But it’s not simple at all. It’s like everybody’s in a rush but nobody has a clue why.”
“I remembered it just the same,” fibbed Ralph, only slightly. He had effectively recalled the landscape, the smell of un-fresh air, and the buildings with their proper places, but he had forgotten about the noise. It reminded him of the bees, all hurrying to sip the nectar from every flower in sight although there wasn’t a need for the rush. This disturbed him though, both thinking of the Island and finding England was not what he remembered, and combined with a justified wish to avoid Jack he was not in the mood to talk on that subject in particular. He preferred thinking and allowing his mind to forget about the constant humming, chatting, or beeping of the civilized world. He would not, of course, have rathered listening to a true bee’s hum or the sound of wind rustling a thousand trees, but overall wanted silence. Peace and silence, where he could rest his over exhausted mind.
“Well, it’s not that different, I mean I still remembered that it was like this,” said jack in a tone dampened with a drop of offense, “I just…wanted it to be more… simple.”
“Maybe it was simple before. Maybe it still is, but…” Ralph found it difficult to find words he wanted. It was if his thoughts had matured but his vocabulary was still as before, “but maybe we aren’t simple anymore.”
“Yeah. Maybe we aren’t simple anymore. Gosh, I’m hungry. It’s got to be after dinner by now,” commented Jack. He was afraid, partially due to Ralph’s earlier reaction, that continuing on a subject related to the Island would soon plunge them into a confrontation. “Do you think we could get a hamburger? I don’t even have one pound but you’d think someone wouldn’t mind feeding one of us. I mean, since we’ve been,” he stammered, for he was going to say “on an Island” but decided against it, “away so long. I’d sure like a hamburger.”
“Frankly, I wouldn’t care for anything related to ‘ham,’” answered Ralph hoping this would be a hint to the other boy that he should leave.
“Hey, it wasn’t that bad. I mean, the ham. Or was it pork? I never did quite understand the difference.”
“You never saw it. You couldn’t understand.”
“Saw what?” questioned Jack with true curiosity. What could ever stop someone from wanting a hamburger?
“The skull. That pig’s head on the stick. It was like…” again Ralph’s vocabulary failed him, “It was like the beast.”
“Do you think there really was a beast? I was so sure before, but now…” his voice trailed slightly as he was hoping the boy would didn’t presently have that night in mind when the beast stumbled into their ritual dance, “Now I’m beginning to wonder.”
“I don’t believe in the beast,” Ralph said. He had begun in a regular tone but wilted into a mumble at the memory of another who said the same thing once to him.
“No, I suppose not,” Jack agreed in the same fashion one agrees to whether or not it might rain. Ralph found this response even more agitating which showed in the way he shifted his weight. Thus, Jack was desperately searching for a new subject but before he had chosen one Ralph said, “I’m sorry, I just don’t feel comfortable talking to you.”
He said it so simply, without mal intent but rather to clearly state to the other boy that he should forsake the adventure of trying to start a conversation.
“Hey, I tried to tell you I was sorry,” Jack retorted, almost in a whine. This was true, or partially; Jack had tried to “apologize” or, more correctly, justify his actions while on the boat. Ralph had simply ignored him. Jack claimed to have seen the ship and have set the Island aflame on purpose at first and later began blaming Roger the hunting of Ralph, to whom it was clear that the other was lying. On top of this, surprising even Ralph himself, he was not concerned about the hunt against him. It was, if anything, the least of his worries, and he believed this was because that aspect of the Island had passed and was over forever. What upset him was that in every newspaper across the country was hope for numerous parents, but for an Auntie and one set of husband and wife the hope was false. It would be very soon that parents would come pouring in to retrieve their lost ones, whom had been taken for dead nearly a month ago. Ralph decided he would rather have died on the Island that see the disappointment, or more likely the breaking open of finally closed wounds on those three particular adults faces. He could imagine Piggy’s Auntie coming, bringing a new ventolin inhaler and a sac of candies for her nephew. She would be plump with thick glasses, the spitting image of Piggy only older and female. When told the boy was of the few to be lost she would whine with her strange accent and complain that she told them 4 weeks ago to send a search party and they didn’t listen. Ralph had seen it a hundred times in his mind and did not want to see it happen before his eyes.
“You don’t understand,” said Ralph blatantly, and his tone surprised Jack for it was not with choler but rather similar to how a wise teacher may speak to a young child. Jack saw this as demeaning, though it was not intended that way.
“What you’re forgetting are the 3 parents who will be arriving soon for boys who aren’t here.”
Jack was slightly dumbfounded because he had in fact forgotten of the deaths on the Island but had no intention of admitting this. Ralph continued, very simply and without a note of antagonism, which was peculiar even to him, “I guess the Captain will deal with them, I sure hope I don’t see their faces. I was surprised by how the Captain took the news.”
This last sentence was referring to the fact that the Captain of the boat which came and rescued the boys happened to be the father of Simon. He had brought out a search party, since he owned a boat and was a naval captain. He was not the officer who first saw Ralph and the boys on the Island, who was the co-captain (a role very uncommon in naval fleets and no one quite understood its meaning. It was something more than first mate and in most aspects equal to the captain). That man’s name, it so happened, was also Simon and he had a very strange likeness to the other boy. This did not disturb Ralph but rather comforted him. The Captain, however, when hearing that his son was one of the ones killed, did not seem surprised or grieved in the least. He didn’t seem happy, of course, just very calm as if he somehow knew it would be okay. He had been more concerned about the other two deaths.
“Yes, it did seem strange. Almost as if he had already known it had happened,” responded Jack, “What do you think the other parents will do?”
Part of Ralph wanted desperately to say that Piggy’s Auntie was likely to send Roger to jail for life and the parents of the boy with the mulberry coloured mark would most likely cry. Instead he answered peacefully, “I don’t know. I guess we’ll see. Perhaps it won’t be so horrible as I thought,” and he meant this. Deep inside, he had an indescribable feeling that everything would be alright now. A peace had come over him since the boat had come and had been growing even since Jack had started this conversation.
It so happened that at this moment the mother of Jack arrived and so Jack was obligated to greet her. No doubt he was glad to see her, but he didn’t think it would sit right to run into her arms demonstrating just how much he had truly missed her. That simply wasn’t how a hunter should act. This left Ralph to his thoughts again, and in the end he decided he was different and he would be forever. But he was neither a naïve young boy nor a struggling leader like on the Island, but he was something completely new. Surely, there would still be lovely times in which his childish joy would shine through and later in his life perhaps he would embrace a leader’s role when he was more fitted for the job. But he would without a doubt be different still. Perhaps this was wisdom. This strange peace and sudden understanding, without fear of a curtain flapping closed on your logic. It was beyond logic, and therefore should he lose his train of thought wouldn’t matter because it wasn’t necessary anymore.
© Copyright 2016 Sambelini. All rights reserved.
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