Fiction logo

Call Me Sometime

Improbable Paradise

By River JoyPublished 2 months ago Updated about a month ago 13 min read

Sand in my face, in my eyes, in my nose.

Water, in my throat I cough and try to open my eyes but the sun feels like knives.

Maybe I could sleep just a little longer, I actually nuzzle into the sand a little deeper, a wave comes up to my waist and I sit up fast. Too fast. I immediately pass out again.

As I come to again I can see someone walking towards me, they are far away. Woman, I think, strong, thin with long braided hair, she walked with a little hitch in her step, like an old injury, more out of habit than pain. As she gets closer to me I notice her hands, I always notice peoples hands, they were older than the rest of her, strong, her fingers were long an elegant, her knuckles a bit gnarled. They were the hands of someone who was an expert at something. I start to fade out again just as she reaches me.

"Hey!" She yelled.

I wake up warm, and dry, and most importantly not covered in sand. Love the ocean, hate the grit. I was lying on the tree line, my many cuts from my argument with the sea had been cleanly bandaged. I shift, my ribs were possibly broken, but I could take an almost deep breath without too much pain so I figured I no punctured lung.

The mystery woman wasn't around, but there was a fire burning hot in a pit, a bucket of water clearly marked "clean" with what looked like a woven cup next to it. I suspiciously dunked the cup in the water, thinking of that "hole in the bucket" song where the answer to the hole was most definitely not straw. It was so tightly woven that not a drop seeped through.

I wanted to drink deeply, but I didn't know how long I had been out or how much sea water I swallowed so I sipped slowly. It was the most restraint I had ever shown in my life. The island was extraordinary, some of the brightest blues were in front of me while some of the deepest greens sat behind. My breathing was deeper and heartrate slower than I think it has ever been. I had almost died and now, I'm calm.

I heard a rustling behind me, barely, and then "Good, you're up" I jumped out of my skin.

"Take a breath kid, I'm not going to hurt you" her voice was quiet, smooth, but there was power there.

I took a couple of breaths. "Who are you?"

"Well my name is Rose, maybe you'll earn 'who' I am in time. And who are you?"

"Sam" I said not quite meeting her eyes.

Rose sat down next to me and filled a cup of her own. We were quiet for a while, and I could sense that that was okay. What a weird place and situation to feel safe in.

"The cups are impressive, I have to admit that I was expecting to have to drink straight from the bucket" I said awkwardly.

"If you do something often enough you get good at it." She stated simply. "What do you do? Not so often someone gets washed up on my island."

"I was swimming, off a boat, the tie came undone" I definitively couldn't meet her gaze at that one. What was the harm in letting her know that I had pushed the boat away with the oar and by the time I had changed my mind the ocean had had her say.


"Where are we? You said it was your island?"

"It is, I've lived here most of my life. I have a home just up the hill" she pointed up a mountain to the east of where we were sitting. "I used to keep the house for a very wealthy man, when he died he left this land to me. There is a part of the island that's inhabited, but I learned how to live off the land, so I don't have many visitors"

"Wow" I was genuinely amazed, and also a little bit jealous

"Can you walk? The sun will set in an hour and we should probably get inside before it gets dark" she was putting out the fire and cleaning up the makeshift first aid area. "Next boat off the island is in three days, since I'm guessing you're not planning on swimming back" she said gently.

"Yeah, I think I can, it might be slow going though" with a little bit of help the only painful part was getting up. The first step even felt good, I mentally noted no deep breaths yet, the pain was sharp. "Thank you".

We walked on the wet, compacted sand closest to the water. "It's the best to feel your feet on the earth, and the water is good for your soul" Rose said. She insisted I take the side closest to the water, it actually was easier to walk there and the saltwater felt good on my feet.

"So what happened?" she asked directly.

"What do you mean?" I snapped a little too quickly. What was she fucking psychic? I took a deep breath. Ow. Bad idea. "I was on my boat and I decided to go swimming. I tied my ankle to the boat and it came undone"

"I find that hard to believe, that someone who lives around here, and owns a boat, doesn't know how to properly tie a knot" she said gently

"People have accidents" I said quietly, my heart pounding in my ears. I didn't want to talk about it. "Can we stop for a sec I've gotta catch my breath"


I walked away for a minute and leaned on a tree like I was trying to catch my breath. She didn't follow me. I noticed that. When I had pulled myself together I walked back to her.

"'Maybe my separation from my boat was not completely on accident" I said very quickly.


Okay? Okay?! What the fuck kind of reaction to a human telling you they tried to die was that? Then I thought, she's still listening. I have her attention.

I think she noticed my pause and she said "I'm here."

"I was trying to get back. I had changed my mind, but the ocean had the last word. I don't want to die anymore" I said the last few words so quietly I doubt she heard me.

"Well that's good, because I don't have any more first aid experience than what I did for your injuries from the rocks" she said lightly

I laughed, a real laugh for the first time in my memory. "I guess I'm lucky it's just some bumps and bruises"

"You should probably see a doctor for those ribs though, have fun explaining that one" she pointed at my rib cage.

"I could say I got beat up in the surf, I'm sure they see it all the time even on the mainland" I actually waved her off.

She got quiet. "Maybe that's not the best idea"

I knew where she was steering the conversation but I didn't want to go there now, I didn't want to go there ever.

"Sam" she said quietly "you can stay here until the next boat comes, and leave on your own, or you can stay here until the next boat comes, and I can come with you and drop you off somewhere."

"Like where?" I said.

"Like at a hospital"

"Is the staying here non-negotiable?" I snapped at her.

"I'm afraid it is, every three days at 9 am, used to be twice a day every day, but no one really leaves or comes" she shrugged "Unless this is an emergency? We could leave now if this is an emergency."

It was my turn to take a beat, I stopped and looked out at the setting sun, we were about halfway to her house. I thought about sitting on the sand until the boat came, but my stomach was growling and I had a feeling the temperature wasn't going to stay very temperate at night. It wasn't an emergency? I was fine. I wasn't bleeding, after being able to make the walk I knew nothing was broken, just badly bruised.

"No" I mumbled, still not walking. "It's not an emergency"

"Are you sure?"


"Let's keep walking."

I'm not sure why I trusted Rose, there was something about her that was both walled off and incredibly warm. Something told me that I could talk and she would listen and not judge.

I took a deep breath. Ow. This was going to be a bad combination. "No this is not an emergency"



When we got to the bottom of the hill that led up to her house I started laughing "I don't know if I could be making it up those stairs on a normal day and you want me to do them with bruised ribs?"

She waved me off in an exaggerated imitation of my motion before. "Come on, we're gunna do two at a time until we get up them because I can't carry you"

So we did. A few steps at a time until we got to the house. I then said "I am not going back down the steps until we're going to the boat"

She laughed "Fair enough, nicely done though. If you go down the hall you will find a shower with towels I will put clothes and new bandaids outside the door. I'll show you where you can sleep. I'm going to start dinner"

"Ah shit" I said as we walked through the door


"I'm never gunna find my boat am I?" I whined.

"You should have thought of that" she said sternly but I saw the edges of her mouth twitch with a smile.

The home was beautiful, it was made out of wood and it smelled like the beach, I passed a room full of artwork both practical like the cup, and decorative. It made me want to put a paintbrush in my hand again. The weaving was mastery and it made me yearn to master my own work again.

I stepped into a shower that looked like a cave wall, the warmth soothing my aching skin. I washed the ocean out of my hair, the beach off of my body, and the guilt out of my soul. I may have stood in that stream of water for an hour, I don't know. I stood there until my body was quiet. She didn't check on me. I appreciated that, I got the feeling she was looking forward to cooking alone after all that talking.

A pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt were sitting outside the door I pulled them on and walked out.

"You look better" she said as she deals out something that smells incredible.

"You mean I don't look like a drowned rat anymore?" I joked.

She smiled "Exactly".

We sat down to a relatively quiet dinner. She didn't talk much about herself, but I noticed she lit up when she talked about art. So that's what we did, we talked about art and then I went to bed. "I will see you tomorrow" she said.

I jumped under the covers in the guest bedroom, I was instantly out.

I woke up with a start, unfamiliar bed, unfamiliar sun. It must have been close to noon. I didn't notice the night before but the windows looked out into the sea. There was a quiet knock at the door.

"Come in" I said unable to pry my eyes away from the incredible scene in front of me. Rose walked quietly next to me.

"How did you sleep"

"Beautifully, and late what time is it?" I asked as I stretched and yawned.

"Almost noon" she paused "so, what are we going to do?"

"It's your house" I said, confused.

"No, what are we doing when the boat comes?" She pressed

I didn't want to think about it. I was good where I was at. "I've got two days." I'd rather spend my time staring at the ocean. "You could really have an existential crisis staring out there" I changed the subject.

"Yeah, she's a beast" Rose agreed "That's why we don't take her on solo".

"Okay yoda" I said, I appreciated the metaphor though, she was speaking my language.

"What do you do Sam?" She asked.

"Nothing really. Sometimes I make things, nothing like your work, but I'm a quick study and I'm good with color"

"Maybe we should paint today."

I doubted she forgot her question about the boat but I was grateful for the out.

"Can we paint from the window?"

"You want to paint the sea?"

"No, I just like the view." I smiled

"Then you'll love my studio" she motioned for me to follow her into the studio. It was on the other side of the house, it was breathtaking, you could see all the way to the point where she pulled me out of the water yesterday, the bright beach in contrast with the greens and browns of the forest.

We sat in silence for a while, I painted a scene from my dreams the night before last, a little spooky but I loved the idea of painting something dark in such a bright place. She was weaving a bowl and every now and then would pull out a black notebook to jot something down.

"What's in the book?" I asked.

"Words" she answered.

"No shit?" I said. "What kind of words?"

"My words" then she sighed, knowing I wasn't going to be satisfied with that answer after admitting to letting go of the boat. "I write poems and short stories, I leave a journal next to me while I weave and write down errant thoughts, at night before bed I try to make them into something."

"That is diligent." I said. "I don't have that kind of discipline in my practice"

"What are you? Thirty? You've got time"

"Doesn't feel like it"

"They tell you that, that you should have your shit together by the time you're out on your own. It's a lie. The good comes later, after you've figured it out" Rose said

"It what?" I asked

"That all of us are faking it, we don't know what we're doing" she laughed "hell I'm a lot more put together than most people and I'm pretty sure it's because I live alone I pick my people carefully and I don't know what I'm doing."

"You make work, beautiful work" I said.

"Yeah, but from years of practice. Life is the same way" she nodded wisely.

"You can come with me on the boat" I said pushing the words through my pride.

"Thank you for trusting me" she said simply.

The next day was spent doing much the same, my side even felt well enough for a little walk outside, not down those stairs again of course. The weather was beautiful as was the view. We talked about art and family and learning how to breathe.

The last day she did as she said she was going to, she got on that boat with me, brought me to a hospital and right before I was checked in she pulled me aside.

"Remember to breathe."

"Remember to leave your island every now and again"

"This too will pass"

"Do you ever stop talking like a fortune cookie?" I laughed, and she handed me her phone number.

"Give me a call sometime, you'll have to see for yourself."

When I got out my first call was to Rose. It rang twice.

"It's Sam"

"Hello my friend"

"They found my boat."

AdventureShort Story

About the Creator

River Joy

I make things with paint and words and light. I was once described as an asshole with Mr. Rodgers vibes.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.