Jamie looked across her knees hugged tight at the slow skitter of sunlight. 

It was her favouritest part of every day, when the low sun moved quickest and the sky and waters ran a million colours. Sometimes she wondered how many of them she had marvelled at and never seen again. Sometimes she gave grateful thanks to the universe that contained such beauty, or to whatever great being had created such a container. More often Jamie thought no thoughts at all. A quiet meditation accompanied by the sounds of the sea.

She tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear, rubbed her prickly skin gone cold as it turned dark. In a few minutes, like clockwork, her mother would enter her room and call out to her, “Jamie will you come in, my love? It’s dark out.” And Jamie would nod absently, and pluck herself out of her favouritest, most solitary part of the day. 

Below her balcony sloped the town’s white walls, its rooftops busy with sundried spices and hung lines of forgotten dried clothes. And below all that, still visible to Jamie, was the cream beach that she had secretly sworn herself to. She had never known a day of her life apart from its view, without its salt in her ears.

The sunset was colder than most and the fine hairs of her skin bubbled. But Jamie clenched her jaw shut and squeezed her knees tighter, refusing to yield to it. And refusing to yield, she retreated deeper into her thoughts. Below her balcony, further still than the beach, out in the sea – that was where she had retreated to in her mind – the small uninhabited island.

Most days she never thought on it, but Jamie wondered now as she had many times before what the island meant. 

No one ever went there. Some must have in the past, but none did so any more. There was no law or tradition as such that forbade the act – it simply wasnt done by the locals. It was a small unimpressive thing, covered entirely in trees. Short enough to hold your breath and run its length maybe, and near enough to swim to. 

Come to think of it, it bothered her.

The island must have meant something once. It was intoned in their stressed nonchalance. In how adamantly the townspeople ignored its obvious existence. Like a gecko on the wall.

She had swam out to it once in the night, in secret – looked at it in the moonlight, encircled it – and then swam back home. But nothing had possessed her to touch its sands. To stand ashore.

Even now, as Jamie pondered on its being there. With the glorious red sun shining off its treetops during her favouritest part of the day. Even now, she had no urge to ever step foot upon it.

“Jamie will you come in, my love?” Her mother called from her bedroom doorway. “It’s dark out.” 

Jamie nodded absently and shivered.