“I’m telling you Sully, there’s someone else here besides us.”
He was too busy rooting out every little piece of meat he could find in the open crab shell dinner plate at his feet to pay me any mind, so I went back to staring out at the trees, wondering if I really had gone crazy and imagined the naked giant by the pond.
And I imagined I was even crazier for thinking he might have been Jesus.
But considering how good looking he was – and the other kinds of thoughts that had put into my head once I’d calmed down – he was more than likely the devil instead.
It wouldn’t surprise me since I was sure I was going to hell for getting my brother killed.
I’d never even been kissed, much less had a boyfriend before, since I was still so young when everything fell apart. And after seeing for myself what happened to Hadley, I was always terrified of any strange men we’d come across since then.
And I’d been terrified of the naked giant too, but that was understandable.
But now that I’d mostly convinced myself he wasn’t really real, he wasn’t so scary.
His hair was nearly the same shade as mine and hung down past his shoulders, with his skin a deep golden brown. But he didn’t have much by way of body hair and no beard to speak of, so that fact only further cemented the idea that he only existed in my imagination.
And the fact I’d read one too many bodice-ripper romance novels, since those had been what my fourteen year old self had decided was necessary to pack away in my end-of-the-world survival kit.
Now I wished I’d packed Tide.
My dreams that night were filled with him, doing dirty things to me that I’d only ever read about, and I woke up in a puddle of my own sweat.
Among other bodily secretions.
And frustrated with myself for getting so worked up over someone who only existed in my own mind, I decided to get up and walk it off.
Sully greeted me with his usual squawking, wanting his breakfast, so I grabbed a small piece of the fish jerky I was a pro at making now and tossed it into the air.
And because he was the laziest bird on the planet, he merely waited for it to drop back to the floorboard before waddling over and eating it off the ground.
“Lazy,” I half-heartedly admonished, even though it was only half-true.
He was pretty good at hunting food for himself and I was sure he’d already gotten himself breakfast before I woke up. I couldn’t be sure if he’d figured out how to do it by watching us for his whole life or if it was something all seagulls did, but I’d even seen him hold small minnows in his beak and dangle them into the water as bait, scooping up the bigger fish that came up to take it.
So I smiled and gave him a little bit of credit by clarifying, “Ingenuous, but lazy.”
Which he owned, since he chose that moment to plop down and get comfortable, for the nap it looked like he was about to take.
And even though I wouldn’t say I was well-rested because I could use a nap myself, I would say I was still frustrated. So I packed some jerky and bananas into a small sack I threw over my shoulder, grabbed my machete and climbed down off of the boat to make my way up onto the beach.
I looked back at the crack in the hull I’d discovered not long before I’d discovered the banana tree, but up until then we’d been blessed by the fine craftsmanship that had gone into building the boat in the first place, so I didn’t have the faintest clue on how to fix it.
Nevertheless fix it with the resources I had available.
I doubted a seal of banana peels would keep the water out.
But when I’d felt the boat rocking with the incoming tide on my first night there, I’d made sure to drop the anchor so it wouldn’t drift further out into the ocean. It was the only home I had – the only one I’d known for eight years – and I wasn’t anxious to relocate. But knowing I might be forced to, I decided to look around for a good spot to set up camp, just in case I needed to.
With my machete in hand.
I might have been crazy, but at least I would be prepared if I ran into my hallucination again.
I already knew there wasn’t much on the path I’d cleared to the pond, but I didn’t know if that was the only source of fresh water, so I wanted to stick close to it. And with that thought in mind, I set off for the pond, deciding to go even further beyond it to see what was there.
Maybe I would luck out and find Gilligan’s vacated grass hut.
When I reached the pond, I gave a second’s thought to taking another dip to wash the sweat and other stuff from my body. But remembering what had happened the last time – even if it only happened in my head – I decided against it for now and only stopped for a drink before moving on.
As I kept going, I noticed from a break in the trees what looked like a small mountain I hadn’t been able to see from the boat stranded on the beach.
But it was probably more like a volcano.
So I said a quick prayer to the lava gods to keep a lid on it while I was stuck there.
The terrain had turned from sand to soil the farther into the jungle I got, but I’d made sure to cut myself a wide path so I would be able to find my way out again. And I kept going until it felt like my arm was going to fall off from all of the work I’d forced it to do and plopped down onto a patch of green in the shade to catch my breath.
My sore muscles could’ve really used some Calgon to take me away, but I would have settled for just a bathtub.
I let my head fall back to rest on the tree behind me and closed my eyes, remembering simpler times when my biggest worry was whatever test I had coming up at school or if my latest crush thought I was cute.
And then I sobered up remembering all of my previous crushes were probably dead by now.
Like the rest of my family.
I didn’t allow myself to cry very often, but I felt the tears trickle from the corners of my eyes and let them come, mixing with the sweat on my skin. And when I’d finally had enough, I wiped them away with the back of my hands and opened my eyes, with my head still tilted upwards.
And then I held perfectly still.
Too shocked – or crazy – to scream, I only stared at the naked giant I had now hallucinated up in the treetop above me.
He was staring back at me too, so I didn’t know if it was my insanity or the fact I still held my machete in my hand that gave me the guts to softly call out, “Hello?”
I hadn’t noticed yesterday – or maybe my previous hallucination altered his current appearance now – because while he still looked the same, I only now noticed how wild he looked.
More so than just his nakedness.
His long hair was tangled, with twigs and leaves caught up in it, and he had scars and dirt smeared across his body.
And he had a lot of it all.
But he didn’t answer me, so I mentally chastised my crazy brain for hallucinating, not only a naked giant, but a rude naked giant and caught his crystal blue eyes with my own, repeating, “Hello? Jesus? Lucifer?”
His name had to be one of them, so I figured I’d cover both bases.
His eyes moved down to travel over my body, but I got the sense he wasn’t doing it to imagine anything untoward about me.
Like I had dreamt about him doing to me.
He only looked confused.
So Jesus it was.
We stayed that way for a long while, with him staring down at me and me, trying to stare at any part of him that didn’t dangle.
This was Jesus, after all.
But when my neck couldn’t take the strain any longer, I slowly pulled myself to my feet and wondered if I could be like a minnow, dangling from Sully’s beak, by moving on and calling out, “You’re welcome to join me.”
Even if it was only in my mind, I didn’t have anyone else to keep me company.
While I walked, I kept an ear out for any sounds not caused by me and when I didn’t hear any, I figured he’d gone back to wait for me in my dreams. So when I looked up, just to check, I was surprised to see him in the tree above me still looking down at me.
Hallucination was a handy way to travel.
On foot and through thick underbrush?
Not so much.
But I trudged on and when I reached the base of the volcano I’d dubbed Mount Banana Paradise, I decided a break was in order and pulled one out of the sack I’d brought with me to snack on.
He had yet to make a sound, but I’d tracked him with my eyes every now and again, so I knew he was still there. And figuring I could maybe teach my brain to not imagine rude hallucinations, I pulled out a second banana and held it over my head, calling out, “Do you want one?”
And I nearly choked on the piece in my mouth feeling it being snatched from my hand a moment later.
Had I imagined it?
I brought my now empty hand down in front of my face and stared at it to make sure the banana was gone. And then I checked the ground around me and my bag to see if maybe I’d only imagined taking the second one out.
Back and forth, my eyes went from the banana in my hand to my banana-less bag, and I began to wonder if I’d imagined packing two instead one, when a banana peel landed on the ground beside me.
Startled, I jumped to my feet and looked up to see Jesus swallowing what I had to assume was the missing banana.
“You’re real?” I asked.
Certifying I was indeed insane, since I was asking someone who could still very well be a hallucination.
He just stared at me and didn’t say anything at all.
I didn’t know whether or not to be scared or pissed.
Granted, if he was real – and that was a mighty big if – he might not understand English. And since I was pretty sure I was still south of the equator, I ignored the fact he didn’t look like a typical Latino and said, “¿Hola?¿Cuál es sunombre?”
I’d picked up a little Spanish here and there over the years, but barely enough to get by.
This could get tricky.
But instead of answering me, he just continued to stare at me with a blank expression on his face.
And wondering if maybe I was closer to Brazil, I thought perhaps he only spoke Portuguese.
And if so, we were both shit out of luck.
So I hoped a little bit of what I thought of as universal sign language would do the trick and patted my chest, saying, “Sookie.”
It was just like talking to Sully.
So I repeated my actions and name before pointing up at him and asking, “You? What’s your name?”
And when he didn’t say anything, I chuckled and said, “Maybe your name really is Jesus, but more like hay-soos than jeez-us.”
It really was like talking to Sully.
So I ignored Mr. Silent and Naked and Imaginary and started searching around the base of Mt. BP, hoping to find a cave. A naturally made solid structure was preferable over anything I could build myself, but there was nothing that I could see.
Jesus may have blessed me with bananas and an imaginary naked giant human Sully, but I guessed he wasn’t going to make things that easy on me.
But seeing the sun was beginning to set, I hadn’t realized I’d been gone so long and figured it was time to head back before it got dark. I also hadn’t bothered with telling Jesus my plan, since he lived in my head – and the treetops – and figured he’d at least get the news from the former, while he stalked me from the latter.
But given his name, I should have known he wasn’t going to make it that easy on me.
Which was why I shrieked like a little girl, when he didn’t bother with using any kind of ladder, as he dropped to the ground in front of me. He’d landed on his feet, with his knees bent in a sort of hunched over position, but when his eyes moved up, so did his body.
I didn’t remember the bible saying he was that tall.
Nor did I remember it saying he was so grabby, which was why I wasn’t expecting it when threw me over his shoulder and scurried back up the tree, with me kicking and screaming the whole way.
And then I let out a long frustrated scream, watching my machete as it fell out of my hand and landed with a thump beneath us.
Hopefully I would live to see another day, so my gut instincts would have a chance to redeem themselves.
But I didn’t have time to worry about it right then. You can bet your ass I was still screaming like a banshee, but I’d stopped kicking because my gut instincts had finally caught up and told me to hang on for dear life when we seemed to take flight a second later.