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There was sand and a palm tree, nothing else. Walking around the entire island took less than a minute.
Scrambling for protection against the sun's obsessive gaze, he found sanctuary underneath the solitary palm tree. Leaning against the ragged trunk, he stared at the infinite ocean. His body trembled with fear.
There was no food. There was no fresh water. The sky was clear, no hint of rain. In the middle of nowhere, there was no hope for rescue. Marooned on an island no bigger than his apartment, trapped in a patch of shade no bigger than his bed, he had survived just to die.
He wept. He screamed. He cursed God.
The sun was stubborn, refusing to retire. But when it finally set and the shade spread, cooling the scorched beach, he walked to the edge of his world, feeling the ocean's water splash against his feet.
He looked up and saw the stars scattered throughout the darkened sky, breathtaking in their arrangement. He saw the moon, full and bright, conducting a magnificent oceanic symphony, harmonized by the current, with a crescendo of waves crashing on cue, culminating with the beautiful songs of whales mingling beneath the glistening surface of the water.
The following day, he heard his stomach groan. He felt the pangs. He looked down and already saw deterioration taking hold. Like most do when burdened with starvation and dehydration, he went to sleep, dreaming of heaven.
He awoke to darkness, believing death had finally come to collect on the debt we all must pay. He stood, and just as he did the night before, he walked to the edge of the world, feeling the water splash against his feet, anxiously awaiting the celestial performance to come.
Days passed. No longer able to move, for his body was too weak, he leaned against the palm tree, protected by the shade it so graciously offered, a gift unlike any other, priceless and pure. And just as on his first day, he stared at the infinite ocean, but his body was still, for there was no fear.
With the sun setting, and the grains of sand in the hourglass of his life running low, the night returned, and with it came the stars and the moon. He smiled. He continued to smile, long after his final breath.
Jonathan R. Rose's novel Carrion is available on Amazon. His Facebook fan page is https://www.facebook.com/JonathanRRose.