Lucas is old. He’s probably like 35, maybe even 40. I don’t know his actual age. Birthdays aren’t something we usually celebrate around here. He looks like a surfer, all lean and sinewy, with blonde hair that he wears long and this constant stubble on his face. I don’t blame him, he has to shave with a bowie knife.
I don’t know why I stick with him. He’s really a man of few words and when the people were splitting up into factions based on their beliefs he kept me from being forced to join one. My parents were dead and I suppose he promised them he’d look at after me. I don’t really know the specifics.
I like Lucas, he’s taught me everything I know. He taught me to read by drawing words and sentences in the sand. He taught me math, chemistry, biology, history, literature was a bit difficult without books. All the paper was used to send messages in bottles. In those rare moments he talks about his past he was apparently a high school English teacher before he decided to get a job as a mechanic at a tropical resort.
“Focus,” he says as he’s drawn an algebraic equation in the sand, “Solve for the sand dollar.” Instead of drawing an X in the equation he’s used a physical sand dollar. Lucas’ voice is deep and soft, like he’s never spoke louder than a whisper in his life.
“When am I ever going to use algebra?”
“If you ever get rescued I don’t want you to go back to the world with a Kindergarten education,” he says quietly. Lucas has never said ‘we’ would get rescued. I think if rescue did come, Lucas would stay on the island.
I drew in the sand the equations, moving the sand dollar from one side to the other. Finally writing = 12 after the sand dollar. I looked at him for approval. His face was kind to me, soft even, he had little crinkles at the corners of his eyes from squinting. He was bronze all over, dressed only in a pair of tattered shorts.
“Good job,” he praises and I beam at him.
“Can I go explore?”
“Haven’t you see everything on this island already?”
“I want to go see James,” I tell him. James is the closest person to my age on the island even though he’s two years younger than me. His dad died in the hurricane but his mom survived. They live inland with the other Triangle Victims. James’ mother tried to steal me away from Lucas, and he rescued me from her. James’ mother Betty isn’t too bad of a person, she just believed that she could raise me better than some ‘Hobo Mechanic.’ That is what she called Lucas, ‘Hobo Mechanic.’ I understand the words but I don’t know why she called Lucas that. Sure he doesn’t talk about life before the island, but I never saw him as hobo.
“Just be careful,” he insisted and I nod. Lucas does worry about me. The most dangerous thing on the island are the Lobster People, but they don’t venture past their coral wall. The other most dangerous thing would be the wild boar.
Lucas gets up from where he’d been sitting next to me in the sand and walks towards the water. Our small fire is between us, the remains of dinner, still on leaves next to the fire. We had fish, but then again we have a lot of seafood. The shallows are teeming with life. Beyond the shore out in the water one can see the sharks that circle the island. They never leave, but they never come into the shallows.
“I’ll be back by dark,” I say to his broad back. He doesn’t indicate he has heard me, but I know he has. I jump to my feet and jog from the beach into the treeline.