She felt as if he was from another world. Since she has never seen a person from outside the island, she felt weird feeling from Andy who looks quite different. When people introduced Andy to everyone, she was looking at him hiding behind her father. Every day when she walked by of his place of work, she could see him. His physique and his hair were different than anyone in the tribe. It made her heart pound too fast that it was even hurting to see him. It was the first time she having a feeling to someone. She wanted to know more about him. She wanted to get close to him. However, it was impossible to talk to him because of language. She didn’t know the English and he didn’t know her language, so she couldn’t say anything to him. Watching him from the distance was all she could do. She hoped he would like her someday.
She sometimes saw him going somewhere by himself in afternoon or at night. She was wondering where he was going in the island, so she followed him sneakily. When she found him at the beach, he was making a raft. It was a shock to her. It looked obvious that he was making a raft to leave the island. She did not want him to leave because she fell in love with him. It was a faith for her that he came to the island. She just wanted to stay next to him. While he was making a raft, she went to him to stop him. She slapped the woods he was holding. He was looking at her in a surprise. She shook her head looking at him. She felt like crying. It was frustrating for her that she could not express her mind. She did not want him to leave the island. When Andy saw her, he knew what she was trying to say, but he could not stay in the island forever. He ignored her and kept working on the raft. Then she tried to use the wood to break the raft. He stopped her holding her arm. She was huffing heavy breaths and he found her eyes were watery.
Andy started to feel affection to the island and the people, but he could not forget Julia. Nothing was guaranteed even after he leaves the island. He just wanted to see her again. He wanted to tell her to be with him. His reality felt harsh when he thinks of her. It was another chance given to him that she is alive. He did not want to miss it again. The regrets he had made him purposeful. He wanted to protect her. He did not want to see her suffering again. It made him appreciate everything that she is alive. He was making the raft from that motivation and it was about to be done tomorrow. He did not want to say farewell to people. He wanted to leave the island at night without anyone knowing it. He did not want her to know him leaving the island. He thought he would come back to this island someday.
In the dawn, he got out of the hut secretly and went to the raft. He was storing foods and fruits in the raft. He brought some more of them. It was chilly dawn. He slowly moved the raft to the sea. He turned around to the island. It was dark but he could see people came out to the ocean sand.
‘They knew it.’
He waved his hand to them. He began sailing with his small raft.
Andy was getting used to their life in island. He worked together and ate food together. He did what they did and followed wherever they went in an island. At first, they were beware of him, but they were accepting Andy as a friend. He found out that the people in island had their own orders to live as a group. They knew who was working hard and who was not, so he worked harder than anyone. He could sleep in his one of empty hut and spend his time in it. It was impossible to communicate with them because of language. Instead, he used the body language. Also, he tried to catch what they were trying to do. Since he was different from them, he often stood in the center of attention. One by one, he was becoming a friend with them.
‘It has been a month since I came to this island. Why are they not still here for me? Are they still looking for me? Do they know I’m alive? Was my GPS tracking system broken when they shot my jet?’
He believed that the U.S. Air Force personnel would come to find him. Although his anxiety was getting bigger as time goes by, he tried not to think of it. He focused on the life in the island.
He started to teach people how to play baseball. The knowledges he had helped them in several ways for them. Everything Andy knew was new for them. People treated him specially and friendly. But he didn’t leave the thought that he will leave the island soon. He could not live here forever. He wanted to leave the island someday to see Julia again. Two more months passed, and he got a conviction that they are not going to find him. He thought that either they don’t know where he is, or they don’t look for him. Therefore, he thought he should leave the island by himself. Whenever he got a spare time, he started to build a log raft near the beach of island without anyone knowing it. The materials were good enough to prepare for it. He cut the woods and used the cords to connect them to make it like a boat.
One day, Andy caught a girl’s eyes looking at him. It was a young and small girl who has a dark skin. It seemed she was too young to find a guy to get married. She looked like 15 or 16 years old. He often felt her looking at him. When he was taking a rest in the middle of the day, she came to hand him one of the indigenous fruits. When he was about to thank her, she just ran away. He thought she is just a shy girl.
Matt who was Andy’s coworker visited Julia in the hospital. She was lying down on the bed. He knocked on the door and entered the room. He said,
“Hello, how are you doing? I’m Matt.”
Julia sat up her body and looked straight in front of her. Matt said,
“I was Andy’s colleague.”
“Yep. We went to the same company before he joined the military. We got close during a year.”
“I see. Nice to meet you, Matt. I’m Julia.”
“Nice to meet you too, Julia. I hope I did not disturb you. Can I sit over here?”
He sat on the chair next to the bed. Julia said,
“Did Andy tell you about me?”
“He sent me an email from Jordan. I heard a lot about you from Andy. You were his friend from the college.”
“Yes. We are pretty close friend.”
“I’m sorry for what happened to you. Andy told me you cannot see because of the accident. He asked me to visit you instead of him.”
“Thank you for visiting me.”
“Andy was hoping to visit you, but he seemed busy with the work now. He is like my brother. Whenever I wanted to quit the work, he always cheered me up to stay in the company and work harder. His words always went a long way. But I didn’t know he would quit the job.”
Matt laughed as he talked about Andy. Julia said,
“I didn’t know he would join the military. I remember him talking about the recruiting notice on the board one time during the college semester.”
“I guess he was thinking of joining military since then. He is deployed to Jordan now.”
“I heard it from friends that he is in Jordan as a pilot. I wonder how his life is going there.”
“I’m sure he is doing well. It seemed he had known about your accident recently. He asked me to visit you few days ago.”
“Most people around me didn’t know about the accident. I didn’t have a chance to let them know and I haven’t talked to my friends for a while. Only few people knew it including my family.”
“I’m sure Andy is worried about you. He looks like an indifferent person, but he genuinely takes care of the people around him. He is a hard-working guy as well so he must be doing well in military.”
“I agree that. Please tell Andy that I always appreciate him. And I hope he takes care of himself before he comes back.”
“I will, Julia.”
“Thank you, Matt.”
They didn’t say anything. A short silence passed them by. Julia broke the silence,
“Andy is very precious friend to me. He is like a childhood friend that I can talk to him anything. He always listened to me and he was always next to me. Even though I cannot see his face again, I wish to talk to him again someday.”
Andy woke up from the sleep. He had a slight headache because of the crash on the tree so he rubbed his head where the pain came from. He looked around of him. He was trapped in the jail that was made by woods. He didn’t know how much time has passed so far. The day was getting darker because of sunset. It seemed like it’s early evening.
‘Damn. I got caught by them.’
He started to think what happened. As he was looking around the outside of jail, he found several huts and people walking around of him. Some people were looking at him. The naked children were running around the huts as well.
‘I think I’ve seen people like them in the documentary. Aren’t they usually cannibal? Are they going to eat me too?’
A small kid came close to him.
‘Children are cute in everywhere.’
He was keep staring at Andy. Andy put his hand in his pocket of the pants and took out a chocolate bar. Andy asked him,
‘Do you want to eat chocolate?’
A kid did not say anything, so Andy opened the bar and gave it to him. He received the chocolate bar. A kid who was holding it kept staring at Andy again. Andy pointed his mouth to signal him that he can eat it. He started eating it. He put beady eye on him. Andy smiled at him. A kid left. Then after few minutes, a group of people came to him. There was a guy who was standing in front of him looking like a leader of the tribe. They started looking at Andy. He got nervous.
‘Are they going to kill me now?’
“Can you speak English?”
No response came back to him. He thought they might not be that aggressive people. It seemed they cannot speak English so the communication would be impossible. It looked impossible to get out of the jail. They just left. Different thoughts made him anxious. Andy thought,
‘What will happen to me? Will I be able to see Julia again? Will my family know that I’m alive? Will the headquarter be looking for me?’
When the night fell, he fell asleep. After the night passed, he was given a food. A guy brought one bowl to him. It looked like a soup. Since he did not eat anything from yesterday, he wolfed down a soup.
‘It’s pretty good.’
A guy who brought a soup went back. After a while, a leader and several guys came to the jail again. They opened the wood jail and signaled him to come outside. They took him to near their workplace. Several of them made him do something. Andy followed what they told him to do. He started moving different kinds of materials. Andy was relieved that they didn’t seem to kill him for now.
As Andy’s jet plane lowered the speed, he ejected from the cockpit. After the eject, he opened his main parachute. He saw his jet crushed to the sea and he was also slowly falling to the sea. As soon as he fell on the sea, his body went deep under the sea. He took out his knife from his pants and cut the rope from parachute. Then he started swimming to the island. The sea felt clean and the island looked like it was never touched by human being from outside. When he reached the ocean sand, he lied down on it and looked at the sky. It was still cloudy. He thought,
‘I should have practiced swimming. What should I do now? How should I contact to headquarter?’
Several questions came across his mind. He looked at the island again. There were shrubbery trees at the end of the sand.
‘It didn’t look like a big island from the sky. Are there people here?’
He decided to walk around the island. He was so thirsty that he needed the water. He went through the trees to find the water first.
An ordinary looking forest filled with tall trees were in front of him. He passed the trees and carefully looked around the forest. He focused on listening to any sound. He could hear the birds and insects. As he kept walking for around 10 minutes, he saw something coming to his way. He crouched behind the big tree. The indigenous people with their swords on their waist. He started to get scared.
‘Were their islands like here in the world? What if they are cannibal?’
He kept looking at them walking by him. When he moved his leg to the back little bit, he stepped on the branch and it made the sound. They looked at the spot the sound was made. He quickly hid his body behind the tree. He looked at them. They were still looking at him. They slowly walked to him. He started running back to where he came, and they started chasing him too. When he turned left, one of the guys jumped and tackled him. Andy hit his head on the ground. He got knocked out.
It’s cloudy afternoon. The sky was getting darker. Andy and First Lieutenant Robinson was flying on the sky of Iran. After the few communications with the Air Traffic Tower from Jordan Air Force Base, they dropped the Guided Warhead bombs on the land of enemies. They felt from inside of the F-35 that the job was done successfully. Both of their F-35 jet planes were called Rad 2 for Robinson and Rad 3 for Andy. Air Traffic Controller, which was called Jade said through the radio,
“Rad 2. Target eliminated. New mission of refuel. Head South.”
Robinson said, “Rad 2.”
ATC said, “Climb maintained 5500 turn right heading 0-2-0 traffic 7’o clock.”
Robinson said, “Jade, copied that.”
ATC said, “Rad 3, Jade, status of the heads up?”
Andy said, “TOI, tracking 300, level 2.”
ATC said, “Possible enemy forces detected. Head now to South. Immediately.”
Robinson said, “Jade, continue inspect. We are turning to…”
Before LT Robinson finished his words, Andy and ATC heard the loud and continuous noise of anti-aircraft gun hitting the Rad 2. Then the jet plane started to move to the left. After few seconds of more gun shots from the ground, Rad 2 exploded. Before Robinson’s jet plane exploded, Andy swiftly turned his jet plane to the right. The gun shots were coming to Rad 3 now. He saw several shots going through the body of his jet plane. He yelled to the radio urgently,
“Jade, Rad 2 is down.”
But there was no response back from Air Traffic Tower.
“Jade, this is Rad 3.”
Still no response came back.
Andy felt like throwing up by the fear of death. He did his best to keep turning his jet plane to the south east direction. He was still on the sky of Iran coastline. He could not control the jet plane anymore. He passed the border of Iran and flew the Gulf of Oman. The speed of Rad 3 kept on steady. He could lower the speed slowly, at least. Rad 3 was making smoking line from the back of it. He knew it was falling. It was not listening to Andy’s control. Now, he was flying on the Arabian Sea. He guessed that it was going to fall on the sea after around 3 minutes. He thought did not have to eject.
‘I can’t die here.’
When his jet plane was getting close to the middle of the Arabian Sea, he saw an island.
Andy was sitting in the briefing room with his senior officer, First Lieutenant Robinson. Commanding officer came into the room. He said,
“How are you all doing?”
“I’m doing good. How are you sir?”
He stopped talking and looked both of their faces. He started talking,
“I’m here to brief you the mission for tomorrow. I’m sure you guys are already tracking it. Your mission is to attack the location where is a residential post of enemies in Iran. Tomorrow, both of you will fly F-35 and drop the Guided Warhead in that area. Execute it as instructed. After the attack, you guys will go to another Air Force base, RAFO Thumrait, in Oman where they operate refueling. Get refueled there then you will return to the base.”
After the brief, he walked out of the room. He thought,
‘Tomorrow is my first mission as a pilot. If I do it the right way like I did in training, I can complete the mission successfully. I can do it. It’s not going to be hard.’
First lieutenant Robinson said,
“It’s your first mission, right? Don’t worry about it. It won’t take that long.”
After he returned to his barracks, he checked his email. He found the email from his old friend.
Hey Andy, it’s been a while, my friend. I’m proud of you for serving in US Air Force. It’s a great dedication for our country. It must be hot there. I’m doing alright here, sucking in the office, you know. I’m still staying until late at night in the office. I think I should just join the military too. I miss the college. I have something to tell you. Julia is alive. But she can’t see anymore because of that accident. She is blind. We all visited her yesterday. We all thought she was dead. Nobody knew where she was. All other injuries are getting better, but unfortunately only her eyes are unrecoverable. When you come back from deployment, go to see her. I’m sure she wants to see you. Andy, take care of yourself well. I will talk to you soon.
Andy was shocked.
‘She was dead in me. When she thought I was Ethan after the accident, I knew I’m not inside of her. She loves him. I could never go inside of her. I’m just one of her good friends. There was no place for me in her. I might have enjoyed silly thing of missing her. And I did not want to mess everything up trying to make her love me. But I want to see her now. I’m so glad she is still alive. I want to see her again. I can tell her what I really wanted to tell her. I love her.’
In next morning, Andy flew his jet plane.
Andy thought, ‘After a long time passed, I would just cry myself someday.’ The outside was getting dark and so did his room. He moved to his bed and dozed off for after few hours lying on his bed.
He was with her in a dream. He was on a chair. She was sitting on his thigh face to face, surrounding his neck with her arms. She smiled at him. He felt her love. She was finally loving him back as he had wished and prayed. He hugged her tight and vowed himself with tears in his eyes that he will love her forever.
The tears flew from his closed eyes. Then he opened his eyes waking up from the sleep. The room was still dark. He thought, ‘I wouldn’t be able to forget her face even though I try to forget her. I wouldn’t be able to erase her name even though I try to erase her name.’ He determined himself that he will tell her that he loved her from the time he met her, and he has loved her from the first time he saw her when he could meet her again. He closed his eyes again.
Julia slowly opened her eyes. She was lying down on the bed in a hospital room. She knew she woke up from the sleep, but the room was so dark that she couldn’t see anything around her. She slowly woke up her body from the bed. As she was getting up her body, someone touched her hand and said,
“Julia, Julia. Thank God you woke up. Julia.”
It was her mother’s relieved voice.
“Mom? Where am I?”
“You are in a hospital. How are you feeling? Are you okay? I was so worried about you.”
“Mom. Where are you? I can’t see you. It’s so dark in here.” She said in a trembling voice.
Julia felt something from her mother’s voice that made her uneasy. She was getting insecure about her mother and herself.
“You have to listen to me Julia. Doctor said you might not be able to see anymore.”
Julia thought she knows what it means that she wanted to cry. But she tried to get a grip on herself.
“What are you talking about?”
“Do you remember the accident? There was a car accident. Do you remember it?”
“The car accident. I remember it. Ethan. I remember talking to him in his arms.”
“Everyone thought you are dead. It was a big accident. I prayed and prayed to God to save you. Julia, I’m so happy you are alive.”
She hugged Julia and started to cry. Julia hugged her back and closed her eyes.
Andy is sitting in his room alone. It’s around 5pm. The orange color of sunset draws the square figure on the wall through blinds. He is scribbling in the white empty paper meaninglessly. He doesn’t know what he is writing. He is listening to music that he has listened before. He is listening in very low volume. Then he turned it off. He muttered something to himself. He picked up his phone and said,
‘Please stay with me. I love you.’
Nothing answered back from the phone. He kept holding the phone on his ear waiting for the reply. There is no sound from the phone. He put down the phone and stared outside the window. He thought,
‘I’ve been so tired. Maybe I should end it here. I think I need some rest. I can take a rest now.’
It seemed to him that he has not had this time for a while. He has been running for his life looking for something. But now it felt like he lost everything. He did not understand why he was feeling lonely at first.
‘Maybe I’m missing someone. Yeah in fact, I’m missing her.’
He felt like he needs time only for himself.
‘I need time to be lonely. I need time to smile to myself. I need time to cry myself.’
He felt sadness for having the feeling as if it was hidden in his deep mind for a long time.
‘I have to go back to beginning of everything and start again. I have to organize myself again.’
He muttered to himself.
“Yeah. I need loneliness in my life.’
The end of semester was coming up. A final exam was in next week. Andy and Julia have got to know each other slowly every week. They usually studied in the college library. Whenever they meet in the library, they studied together in a close seat and left the library at the same time. When they found something that they didn’t know about the class of the day, they asked each other. Sometimes, they had a chance to have a dinner together near the library when the nighttime comes in weekdays. The class often required some of the outdoor assignments for the grade, but she made a group of her friends in the class for the research project. He did not have a lot of chances to do it with her. Although he had an expectation that he might be able to spend the time with her, it did not happen a lot. However, it didn’t matter to him. He was just happy to see her in every class and study together.
Andy was an ordinary student. Since he didn’t have a lot of money, he had to get a student loan to take the class. When the school has a vacation, he got a part time job at the convenient store around the college. He did not want to ask for money to his parents because of his stubbornness. Whenever his parents visit him, they gave him some allowance for his living, but it was not always enough. Therefore, he was considering joining the ROTC of U.S. Air Force that the school connects students to Air Force recruiters. He could often see the notice on the school board that recruiters left on it. He did not have such a dream to become a pilot, but he knew the benefits of joining the military that they cover his college tuition. Then he met Julia when he was considering ROTC. But he was having a concern in his mind.
‘Would I still be able to see her after I join the Air Force? What if I cannot see her? I don’t even know if she is going to wait for me. Would she love me?’
After the class is over, Julia came to Andy. When he was about to get up from the class seat, she talked to him.
“Hey, we are planning to go camping after the final exam in next week. Do you want to come with us?”
He froze for a second because he was not expecting her invitation. As he was looking at her wondering if he wants to join her, he thought he should answer it right away.
“Uhm yeah. Camping? Where are you guys going?”
“Actually, my friend knows the place better than me. She said, if we go to south from here, there will be a mountain and there is a campsite. There aren’t many people coming to that place like a secret place. The semester is going to end soon so, I think we could swim at the valley and have a BBQ party together. It would be fun. I want you to come with us.”
He felt as if she really wanted him to join the camping.
“Sure. Sounds exciting. I’m in. I will go with you.”
“Okay! I will let them know you will come with us. I will talk to you later Andy.”
“See you Julia.”