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hidden island

From the novel Monopole.

Teddy’s unconscious thoughts then wander, finding their way back to Sylvie, as his memory continues playing like an ongoing film from deep within his subconscious, distorted by his recollection and perspective.

“So what’s the plan?” she asks him.

“Well,” Teddy replies, “we’ll only need to motor out of the marina and then we should be able to catch the wind the rest of the way. The guy I talked to told me there’s a little beach island that nobody knows about. It’s in this little cove on the far side of Eschati—I think that’s how it’s pronounced. It’s the smallest island in line with Askania and, oh—I can’t remember the name of the biggest one for some reason. It’s starts with a C, I think. Oh, whatever. So the guy said all the islands are really rocky—they’re all part of an old volcano, I guess—and the one we’re going to has a couple rock formations that poke up out of the sea like a pair of big red teeth. The old man said that on the other side of one of these teeth, the smallest one, there’s this little cove that the waves have been crashing on for eons, and it’s created this untouched beach where the sand is bright red. He said it’s so red that it glows like fire. I guess it’s from the sun reflecting off the water and the red cliff face of the tooth and the red sand all at the same time, or something like that. He said nobody really knows about it. He called it an unsung treasure, which I kind of liked. He also said that, when the southern winds are blowing, the cliff walls running up the side of this little cover protect it from the wind completely, like it’s some kind of perfectly calm but bright-red pocket of magic. He was actually a really nice old man. He may have been crazy or something, though. He looked like he was maybe homeless—at least he smelled like he was. Anyway, he sounded pretty convincing and I figure it’d be an adventure even if there isn’t some bright red windless beach out there for us to discover. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?”

“Well, I never mind a treasure hunt,” Sylvie says. “Plus I’m excited to see you sail. You always talk about it, how you and your dad sailed when you were younger.”

“Well, it’s been a few years,” Teddy says. “More than a few, I guess, but I know it will come back to me—and the wind is good today. I’m excited.”

“I am too,” Sylvie replies, holding her hat on her head and smiling her modest smile, the one she wears when she isn’t thinking about smiling. Like Teddy, she tends to harbor a repressed anxiety, a sort of unyielding self-reflectiveness that she learned to cope with in her young adulthood and that, as a result, has come to help define her. Teddy loves her in part because he knows she feels some degree of the gravity that he always has. “How far away did you say the island is?” Sylvie asks.

“Well, the old man told me that it’s fifteen or twenty kilometers once we get out past the point of Akrotiri there,” Teddy says, pointing to the rocky cliffs at the edge of the peninsula. “But I looked at a map and I think it’s only like twelve miles and I bet that in this wind I can get her up to ten knots or so. I bet we can get to the island in under two hours from the time we set off. It’ll be fun whether or not we find this bright red beach. I can’t imagine a better day for sailing.”

The boat—a 25-foot sloop with a padded space for lounging at the bow and an exposed bridge behind the raised deckhouse—pulls from the dock and out into the marina. Teddy waits until the boat is some distance from the shore before he cuts the engines and unfurls the mainsail.

I remember who I was, Teddy thinks, his present thoughts seeping back into his unconscious memories. I feet like I’m that person again, like I’m there again. The cool breeze off the Aegean. The smell of the water as I try to show her how to work the headsail. Her laugh when a wave splashes us. How very disorienting. The feeling is almost real, like I’m just tracing back over what already occurred.

As the wind picks up and Teddy catches it with the headsail, the boat spins impossibly out of control. The wind howls violently. It rips the boat in every direction.

He then remembers how it ended.

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