Why is everyone so serious all the sudden? Every time the skipper walks past he looks at me like he's waiting for something to happen. I pull out one of the rubbers from my pocket and start to play with it.
There is a slight breeze from the direction of the lagoon. I begin to think about Maryanne. At night all she wears is kind of an oversized shirt and her thighs catch the firelight. Her legs are just right: brown and smooth and strong, and her eyes are brown too. I put the rubber against my mouth and try to blow it up.
She's wearing a sarong with flowers all over it tight against her waist and as she curls down in front of me her hips flash from behind the cloth. Her red hair is all over her shoulders and the sun moves through it and through those flowers so that I can see the shadow of her thighs. It occurs to me for the first time that the bikini top she's wearing is not a bikini at all but a fancy pink bra with flowers woven into the lace.
"What are you doing?"
I look around in five directions at once and desperately tried to get the rubber back into my pocket. "Just thinking."
"Who were you thinking about?"
I know better than to look into Ginger's eyes while she is asking a question. Ginger always looks right at you when she talks and her eyes can swallow you up if you're not careful. I can't find anything to say so I focus all of my attention on the knot in my shoelace.
"I saw you in the professor's hut this morning. You were in there for a long time."
"The professor thinks we might not ever get rescued."
"The professor thinks too much."
"I think this island is a wonderful place. It's more of a home than I've ever had. So what if we don't ever get off it? Worse things could happen."
Ginger turns away. "Nothing worse could happen."
A few months ago Ginger broke down in tears because she missed the stage. So we all got together and built a stage and put on a play and everything. We had music and curtains and footlights and we would have had an audience except that we were all on the stage. And afterwards we had a cast party with champagne and Ginger laughed and laughed.
"But we have a good time, most of the time, don't we?"
"Right, Gilligan. Mr. Howell was having such a good time last week that he tried to jump off a cliff."
"Yea, but that was only because he heard on the radio that Howell Industries had collapsed. But it was really Powell Industries. It was just a mistake. Boy! That was a close one!"
"Grow up, Gilligan. Mr. Howell has been living on the edge ever since we landed on this rock. He's like me, used to being at the center of things. He's spent his whole life issuing commands, making money, spending money. And now what's he got? A wife who's swallowed so many pills she can hardly remember her name and a suitcase full of money that can't buy anything.
"I watch him sometimes, clutching that radio like it was a life preserver, listening to every word of the business report day after day. Do you know he makes pretend investments on the Stock Market? And lately he's even started to form pretend corporations and at night in his hut he merges them and rearranges their boards of directors. I know what that's like. I have pretend lovers I play with at night. I merge them and rearrange them in my mind. I've known so many men in my life, so many hungry men. And now I only have three. Maybe four."
When she says 'four' my heart starts pushing so much blood into my face that I almost fall over. I keep my eyes on my shoelace but I can tell she is watching me. She puts her hand on my knee.
"Gilligan, if I tell you a secret will you promise not to tell anyone?"
Ginger has hundreds and hundreds of secrets. I nod my head but she puts her hand on my chin and makes me look into her eyes.
I snap my head up so fast it bangs against the tree trunk like a coconut.
"Things are about to change around here. Maryanne is already changing. And if she can change then maybe you can change. And if you can change, then anything is possible. Maybe I could even change. Do you know what else?"
I feel like a bird flying into those eyes of hers.
"I think Maryanne is a very, very lucky girl."
She touches her finger to her lips and then to my nose and looks right into me. A breeze sweeps in from the lagoon like a sudden breath and she stands up and floats into the jungle.
by John Cartan