Read the original: Isabelle’s Island
David and Humphrey helped their father build a lean-to while Isabelle and her mother collected fruit and firewood. They camped that night on the beach and the first mate entertained them with tales and myths from the sea. For the first time since they left England, Isabelle felt happy.
Then the first mate sickened. His leg became infected and despite Isabelle’s mother’s ministrations, he died a week later. They buried him in the forest and Isabelle’s father and brothers set out to explore the island. They went for days at a time, coming back exhausted and discouraged.
Two months later, they had explored most of the island and concluded that it was truly uninhabited. Isabelle’s father masked his disappointment by throwing himself into work, hauling rock to build a better house, making tools from wood and stone and hunting for food. David and Humphrey disappeared on hunting and exploration trips more frequently now and were gone longer.
Isabelle was left back with her mother, who sunk slowly into herself. She would spend hours staring out at the ocean and would break down in tears with no provocation.
One day Isabelle found her father sitting among some rocks, trying to braid rope from plant fibers.
“Can I help you, Papa?” she asked, reaching for his hand. He pulled it back, still concentrating on the rope he held between his knees.
“I don’t have time now, Isabelle dear,” he said. “Go help your mama.”
“I saw something in the forest,” she said. “It looked scary.”
He looked up at her and she saw sudden interest in his eyes. “What do you mean?”
“It was big, as big as a horse,” she said quickly. “And it had fur and long claws. I heard it making a weird grunting sound.”
Her father stood up, dropping the rope and picking up the club he had made. “Show me where you saw it.” He took her hand.
Isabelle led him into the jungle a little ways. “It was around here somewhere,” she said.
“Let’s keep looking,” her father said and squeezed her hand in a comforting way.
All afternoon they walked through the jungle and up on the low hills, looking for a monster that did not exist. It was the happiest Isabelle had been in a long time and she hung onto her father’s hand and reveled in his warm presence.
The next day, Humphrey and David returned from a two-week expedition. They carried part of a wild boar they had killed. As they were all eating together, Isabelle’s father mentioned the monster Isabelle had reported.
David laughed. “We’ve been all over this island and I’ve never seen anything like that. She’s just making things up.”
“It’s not true!” Isabelle said. “I really did see it. Papa and I hunted it together.” She reached over and grasped his hand.
Humphrey shook his head. “There’s no way, little sister. You must have seen wrong.”
Her father withdrew his hand from hers and looked at her. “Is it true, Isabelle? Did you really see a creature like that? Tell me now, did you really see it or were you lying to me?”
“I really did see it! Why would you believe them over me?” she cried, bursting into tears. Her mother reached for her, but Isabelle shook her off. “I’ll go find it now.”
Without any plan, Isabelle ran off into the darkness of the jungle—past their latrine, past the place they gathered wood and into the dense underbrush. All she could see was the distrust and disappointment in her father’s eyes. She could hear her family calling after her, but she kept going.
She hit a tree in the dark and bright points of lights exploded in front of her eyes. She kept going, pushing ahead of her with her arms outstretched. Then the ground disappeared beneath her feet.
She screamed as she fell, grasping blindly in the darkness in front of her. She felt tree roots and clutched at them.
“Isabelle, where are you?” It was her father, calling from somewhere above her.
“Papa, help me please! I’m down here.”
“Hold on, Isabelle.” She heard grass rustling and tree branches cracking somewhere above her. Then, she heard breathing and fingertips brushed the very top of her hands where she clung to the roots.
“Pull me up, Papa! Please, I’m going to fall.”
“I can’t, Isabelle. I’m reaching down as far as I can. If I go any more, I’ll fall too. Hold on, I’ll go get some rope.”
“No! Papa, don’t leave me here! Please!”
“I’ll be back for you, don’t worry, dear.”
“Do you promise?” Isabelle asked. Her hands were trembling and her arms ached.
“I promise. I’ll get you out of there. David and Humphrey are on their way too.” She heard him crashing through the trees, moving further away.
The strength was leaving her hands. “No, no, no. Papa, help me!” Her hands slipped off the root and with a scream, she fell, down, down into the blackness. The last thing she remembered was the sensation of her body hitting water.
(to be continued)