The Island by Agnes Alexander by Agnes Alexander - Read Online

About

Summary

A plane disappears over the Atlantic, but after an intense search turns up nothing, the hundred and twelve people aboard are declared dead. Unbeknownst to the outside world, thirteen people survived. After escaping the crashing plane and braving the waters for hours, eleven of them make it to an island. Twenty-seven months later, a plane discovers the survivors. The waiting world is anxious to learn how they lived, but the survivors have secrets they must hide, not only from the media, but from their own families. Will the news media be able to uncover these secrets? Will their families welcome them back? Will the loves and friendships formed in those twenty-seven months last?
Published: Whiskey Creek Press on
ISBN: 9781611607987
List price: $3.99
Availability for The Island
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.

Reviews

Book Preview

The Island - Agnes Alexander

You've reached the end of this preview. Sign up to read more!
Page 1 of 1

wishes.

Chapter 1

May 19—9:30 PM

New York

A man wearing a military uniform walked into the VIP lounge and nodded to Steve Brookshire. Steve stood, leaned his six-foot-two frame down to the small suntanned woman beside him and whispered in her ear, Remember, no matter what happens in the future, I’ll always love you. He then turned and followed the soldier out of the room. In his hand he held a hand-woven grass and reed basket.

Amanda Winston wanted to scream for him to come back so she could tell him she’d always love him, too. She wanted to hold him and tell him she changed her mind about him going back home. She wanted to tell him she couldn’t face this alone and needed him at her side as their unknown future stretched out before them.

Before she could do or say any of these things, another soldier appeared and beckoned her to follow him to a different chartered plane. Without a word, Amanda stood, picked up the basket she’d used as luggage and walked toward the door behind the young man. She knew she had no choice. It was time for all of them to go back to the real world and continue their previous lives, if possible. The last twenty-seven months were over and everything that happened during that time and in that place was over. Their old lives were waiting and they knew they had to embrace those lives, even if it would take time to acclimate themselves to the way it was before and the way it would be from now on. They had to rejoin the modern world.

* * * *

Twenty-Seven Months Earlier

The plane lifted off the runway and headed west. Amanda Winston sighed with relief as she played with the colorful scarf around her neck. No matter how many flights she went on, she was still a little nervous during a lift off or a landing, but once the plane was in the air, she relaxed and enjoyed the ride. This trip was no different in that respect. The only change this time was the fact it was the longest adventure she’d ever attempted alone. The trip had been a success. She’d done fine on her own and she’d had a wonderful time meeting new people and experiencing a new culture in a part of the world some considered dangerous. But her vacation was over and she was heading home. Back to the United States. Back to her everyday life and back to her family. She’d be glad to see them again and it would be fun sharing her experience with her daughter and grandchildren.

Amanda had always wanted to travel to foreign lands and several years ago had set aside a special fund for this purpose. In December, when she took early retirement, she decided the coming year was the one in which she’d set out on her journey to see the world. This was her first trip across the Atlantic. She knew she’d been lucky enough to make this adventure a combination of fun and work.

Since her retirement, she’d been dabbling with writing, a passion she’d had for a long time. Three months earlier she landed a position as a freelance reporter for a retirement magazine. So far she’d written three articles, which they’d published under the column Traveling Alone after Sixty. When they informed her they wanted to run the column monthly under her by-line with no more guest authors, she’d signed the contract and sent it back with no mention of her present age. She didn’t dare tell them she hadn’t reached the sixty-year mark, because she knew she’d get there soon enough.

Now, coming home she was determined to write this trip up as her best article yet. After all, the money she’d get for the story would pay for more than half the trek overseas.

As the plane climbed and leveled, she thought about pulling out her laptop and starting the article, but decided she’d outline it in her head. She leaned back against the seat and closed her eyes as she let the places she’d visited and the people she’d met float through her mind. She wanted to make her readers feel what she’d experienced and her mind searched for an opening line. She knew if she was completely relaxed, the right words would come to her. In a short time, Amanda was so relaxed she dozed off.

The plane jerked.

It wasn’t a hard jerk. Just enough to jar her awake.

She rubbed her eyes and sat up straight. The woman in the seat beside her was sound asleep. They’d spoken when they boarded and found their seats, but they soon knew they weren’t going to be able to converse. Though Amanda knew a few words of Spanish, she didn’t know enough to carry on a conversation. The woman only knew hello in English.

Amanda glanced at her watch and saw she’d been asleep almost an hour. She took a deep breath and looked out the window. There was nothing to see except the tops of fluffy white clouds. She knew the crystal blue Atlantic was beneath these clouds, but she could now only envision it in her mind. Her thoughts wandered to how remarkable it was to leave home and be in a distant country in a matter of hours instead of the weeks it used to require for such a trip.

That’s it. I’ll start my article telling the reader how close together the people of this world are. Even though nations are separated by huge bodies of water, there’s nowhere you can’t visit in a matter hours. I’ll tell them there’s no place on earth that hasn’t been reached or explored at this time in human history.

The plane lurched again.

Amanda frowned. She couldn’t help remembering the sight of the plane in the airport. It looked old and a little unkempt to her, but she’d brushed it off as nerves. Sometimes these small foreign countries lacked the standards the U.S. had for their airlines. Besides, the travel agent had assured her this was a safe way to travel home.

The plane lurched again. Not as bad as the first time.

Amanda glanced at the woman beside her. She stirred, but didn’t wake up.

Amanda peered out the window again. It was now light enough that she could see patches of blue between separations in the clouds. She frowned. Something was wrong.

Another lurch. A little harder this time.

The voice of the flight attendant came over the intercom. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re experiencing some turbulence. As a precaution, please buckle your seat belts.

Oh, Dear God, Amanda silently prayed as she poked the lady in the seat beside her. She motioned for her seatmate to put on her seatbelt. She continued her prayer. I know this is serious, God. Please take care of us.

Amanda bucked the seat belt as she’d been told. She felt the plane jerk again. Three consecutive jerks. Out the window she could see the ocean below. No clouds were visible. Only the dark Atlantic with its continual ripples.

From the intercom the voice said, Please find and put on your life jackets. Do not inflate your lifejacket until you are out of the aircraft. Please get in the crash position. Put your head between your knees...

There was no time for further instructions. Within four minutes the plane touched water and the air filled with screams of fright and unbelief. If Amanda screamed, she didn’t know it.

She felt as if everything inside her was being shaken out her mouth or through her ears. Her head rang and throbbed, her nose began to bleed and she felt water seeping around her body. Going only on instinct, she managed to get the seatbelt unfastened. She was in water, and she inflated her lifejacket. Once free, she floated upward. She was surrounded by screams and moans of desperation and pain, but she couldn’t think of them now. Her only instinct was to fight to survive. As she saw the top of the plane getting closer to her face she knew she’d be trapped and would drown if she didn’t get lower. With all the strength she could muster she kicked and pushed downward. The life jacket wouldn’t let her descend. She fumbled with the fastener and finally got it off.

A good swimmer, she thrust her body downward. Thinking it would be no worse to drown in the open sea than to be trapped in a sinking plane, she swam in the only direction the rushing water would let her.

It seemed like a long time, but it was probably only seconds when her head popped above water and she gasped for breath. She was surrounded by screaming and crying people and a lot of floating debris. Her eyes searched for her Spanish seat-mate, but she didn’t see her anywhere. She pushed the woman from her thoughts and began to kick her legs. The slacks and jacket weighted her down, but she didn’t dare try to get them off. As she kicked she felt her shoes slip from her feet. She could think of nothing else to help her situation. With no life jacket to hold her up, all she could do was tread water.

* * * *

May 19—10:25 PM

Charlotte, North Carolina

On the flight home from New York the crew of the small jet wanted to talk with her, but Amanda told them she needed to be alone on this flight. They’d conceded to her wishes and the flight was uneventful. She glanced out the window and saw the night-lights of Charlotte as the attendant told her to put on her seatbelt and get ready for the landing. She complied as she prayed for help in getting re-acquainted with the family she’d left twenty-seven months earlier. She hoped they’d be as anxious to re-acquaint themselves with her. Or would they even recognize her?

She looked down at the plain blue jump suit the rescuers had given her. It was a poor fit and she knew her hair hung down her back. A woman in the hospital had given each female survivor a tube of pink lipstick. It was the only make-up she wore.

She glanced at the seat beside her. Sitting there was the basket containing the gifts, bundled and well hidden with a grass woven square. On top of the square was a tool Tony made to use for cracking coconuts, an earthen shaped bowel made of dried mud, her tattered shorts and blouse, and a few other items they made or collected.

In her heart she knew the material things in the basket didn’t matter. The important things she was taking home were the memories, both good and bad, the lasting friendships she’d formed, and most of all—her love for Steve. A love she knew would never die even if she never saw him again.

The wheels of the plane touched down and in a matter of minutes Amanda was headed up the walkway toward her past and her future life.

The first person she noticed when she stepped into the concourse was her sister. Callie hadn’t changed much. She looked lovely. She still had the shoulder-length blond hair and she’d retained her size eight figure. She stood close to her husband, Sam Edgerton. They were both smiling.

Then she saw Diane. The look on her only child’s face was radiant, though tears were running down her cheeks. Beside her were the twins, Kenny and Kristy, who Amanda calculated would be twelve now. Behind them was Diane’s husband, Noah Sanders. A look of disbelief lined his face. Amanda couldn’t help remembering that Noah had never liked her much and wondered if he were disappointed by her reappearance in his world.

Mom, Diane shouted through excited tears. Oh, Mom! She ran to meet her mother and flung her arms around her neck. I’m so glad you’re alive. I couldn’t believe it when they told me.

Diane, honey, it’s wonderful to see you too. You look beautiful. Amanda was happy to feel her daughter in her arms. Months ago she’d given up hope of ever seeing her beloved child again, but now it was a reality.

Nana, you look great, Kristy came up and hugged her grandmother followed by her brother, Kenny.

You children have grown, Amanda looked at each of them. The last time I saw you, Kenny, you were almost to my shoulders. Now, you’re taller than I am and so handsome. I bet you’re already fighting off the girls. He blushed and she turned to Kristy. And you, young lady. You’re lovely. I knew you were going to be a knock-out when you were a baby, but I never dreamed you’d be so beautiful.

Oh, Nana. You always tell me I’m pretty.

And Nana doesn’t lie, does she? Amanda was still choking back tears.

Noah walked up and kissed her stiffly on the cheek. Welcome home, Amanda.

Then Callie and Sam were hugging her. I’m thrilled to know my little sister is still among the living. I’m so glad to see you.

Me too, Sam added. We were bowled over when we heard you were one of the survivors.

It was the happiest day of my life when I got that phone call. Tears streamed down Diane’s cheeks. I lost my mother and then she was found. It had to be a miracle from God.

Amen, Amanda said. I never thought I’d ever see any of you again. Some of the tears she’d held back began to slip out.

Come on, let’s get out of here, Sam said. We don’t want somebody to call a reporter. The airline’s done a fantastic job keeping your arrival a secret.

Noah cleared his throat. Yes. I’m sure they thought you’d be too exhausted to face the media.

Amanda nodded. You’re right, Noah. I am. All I want to do is to take a hot shower and crawl into bed. I’ll probably sleep a week.

Oh, Nana, Kenny said. I wanted to hear all about the crash and—

Let’s not bring that up now, son. Noah shot him a hard look.

Amanda took Kenny’s hand. I’ll tell you about it sometime, but right now I just can’t talk about it. It still hurts too much.

We understand. Diane put her arm around her mother’s shoulder. She led her toward the parking lot. Mom, we weren’t sure where you’d want to stay. Aunt Callie wants you to come to her house. I want you to stay with us. What do you want to do?

Amanda shook her head. She’d only been on American soil for a day and she was faced with decisions. This wasn’t going to be easy. For the past twenty-seven months her circumstances had dictated all of her decisions.

She took a deep breath. Why don’t I stay with you tonight? I’ll move to Callie’s tomorrow or the next day. I know your house isn’t big enough for another adult.

It was settled, for the time being.

Chapter 2

Twenty-Seven Months Earlier...

Lady, don’t you have a life jacket? A grey-headed man asked.

Still sputtering, Amanda shook her head. I had to take it off to get out of the plane.

Here, he said. Take this. It seems to be floating pretty well. It’ll help you stay up.

Thank you. Amanda took the piece of wreckage he pushed to her.

There were still cries coming from other people in the water. Amanda was too stunned to cry.

A man swam up to her. I’m glad you made it. It looks like there are thirteen of us. I don’t know if anyone else got out or not.

Unless they come out in the next minute or two, I don’t think they could possibly survive, the grey-haired man said.

My husband! Where’s my husband? A pitiful cry came from a little woman with brassy orange hair piled on top of her head. Even with all the make-up, she appeared to be in her eighties. I can’t stand it if I lose my husband.

A middle-aged woman swam up to her and tried to comfort her. It did no good. The older lady wailed as she backed away.

A man called out. Folks, please try to calm down. Let’s all gather together and see if we can determine what injuries we have. I’m a doctor and I might be able to help with minor problems.

Though they continued to cry and talk, everyone except the woman screaming for her husband began to swim toward him.

I think my leg is broken, a man in his late forties said. I can’t move it because of the pain.

I’m not sure I can help with that right now. The doctor looked at him. Try not to move it any more than you have to.

A young woman in her twenties was sobbing as she swam up. She managed to say, I’m seven months pregnant and I think I’ve had a contraction.

The doctor said, Stay close to me.

I have some cuts, but I think I’ll be okay. This salt water is helping them, another woman said through her tears. The big question is how’re we going to get out of here?

The screaming woman’s voice cut in again. I won’t go on without my husband. I can’t.

Madam, you’re going to have to cope like the rest of us, The doctor said. I know there’re probably others here who lost someone dear, but we can’t keep trying to change the inevitable. It looks like we may be the only ones to make it out. We have to work together and try to survive.

A burly man in his fifties said, I’m not sure, but I think there’s a bad puncture wound in my side just above my belt. It’s bled a lot and it’s kind of numb.

The doctor moved to the man, pulled him up on his side and began looking him over. The woman beside the man took a shawl from around her shoulders and the doctor used it as a make-shift bandage. I’m going to use your belt to secure this as tight as I can. We need to keep pressure on the wound and see if we can stop the bleeding.

The orange-headed woman interrupted again, crying out, I don’t care what you do. If my husband is dead, I’m going to die with him. She drifted further away from the group.

Please, lady— The doctor started to say.

I mean it. She jerked off the life jacket and pushed it away from her. Her head immediately went below the water.

Three men swam to the spot where she went down, and shook their heads. She’d disappeared.

The grey haired man snatched the lady’s discarded life jacket and swam back with the others. He came up to Amanda. Here, put this on. She hesitated. I know it seems harsh, but it’s not doing her any good now and you need it.

Amanda slipped her arms into the jacket as he held it for her. When her shoulder bumped his hand, he winced.

Are you hurt? she asked.

I twisted my wrist, but I’m okay.

The doctor heard him. What did you do to your wrist?

I sprained it a little. It’ll be fine.

The doctor took the man’s arm. It’s not a sprain. Your wrist is broken. He looked around. Does anyone have anything we can use to secure it? A necktie maybe?

Amanda saw the dripping scarf around her neck. She took it off. Will this help?

Perfect, the doctor said.

The grey-haired man smiled at her. Thank you.

Look, everybody, one of the men shouted. I see land.

Their eyes followed his pointed finger. Some said they could also see an island and others remained silent, hoping he was right.

I’m not the best swimmer in the world, he said, and it’s a long way off, but if we work together, we might be able to make it.

What do you suggest we do? A woman asked.

Find a long piece of floating wreckage to use as a kickboard to propel us toward the land.

How?

We’ll line up on the board and work as a team. As I said, I’m not the best swimmer and I bet nobody here is an Olympic champion, but together we can give it the good old college try, as they say. We’ll take turns. Every other person in line will kick for a while and when they get tired the others will take over and let them rest. We’ll rotate until we reach the island. He looked at the doctor. Is there anyone who shouldn’t kick?

The only ones in immediate trouble are the man with the side wound, the expectant mother and the man with the broken leg.

I can kick with my good leg, the man interjected.

Okay. We’ll put you beside a strong kicker.

Shouldn’t we wait to see if anyone else is going to get out of the plane? The pregnant girl asked.

Honey, one of the women said. It’s been a good twenty-five or thirty minutes since we crashed. If anyone else was getting out, they’d be here by now. Nobody can survive under water that long.

The young woman began to cry, but her tears rolled down her cheeks in silence.

The doctor patted her on the shoulder and told her to hang in there and he’d be back to take care of her. He then went from one to the other and spoke with each individual. Amanda watched as he whispered something to the burly man with the side wound and the woman beside him. On the verge of tears herself, Amanda swallowed them back and decided there was nothing she could do except wait until someone made a decision about what their next step was.

They found a twenty-four foot section of fuselage floating a short distance away. We’ll use this as a kick-board, the man who spotted the island said. He lined the survivors up and went down the row counting one-two, one-two only skipping the pregnant woman and the seriously wounded man. When he got to the end of the board he said, Those with the number one will be the first team, those with two will be the second team. He then swam to the right end of the board. Now, all the number ones start kicking and we’ll see how fast we can progress toward the island. I’ll let you know when it’s time to switch kickers.

The small group of survivors followed his instructions. Lined up along the piece of wreckage with the early morning sun to their backs, they knew they were attempting an almost impossible task—a swim to a faraway island which might or might not be there.

* * * *

May 19 – 11:15 PM

Athens, Georgia...

Steve Brookshire was nervous as the plane touched ground. It wasn’t the flight. It was the fact he had no idea what to expect once he entered the airport. Who would meet him? He knew his son would be there and maybe his daughter-in-law and the grandchildren. But would Janet come? If she did, how would she react to him? Or he to her? Sure, they’d been married for more than thirty years when he’d made this trip, but he knew things had been bad between them for the last several of those years. He’d worried she was getting the mental disease which ran in her family. She’d shown changes before he left. Now he’d changed. The crash and the time on the island had seen to that.

Could he come back as husband to a woman who’d been pulling away from him for years? A woman who ceased to exist to him? Did he want to try to rebuild a marriage that had been interrupted for this length of time? A marriage which hadn’t been strong in the first place. No, he told himself. Even if he hadn’t met Amanda, his life with Janet was over. Now that Amanda was in the picture, there was no room for any woman except her.

There was no way he could ever forget the time he spent with Amanda on the island. At this moment he wished he could hold her one more time and discuss again their decision to do it this way. No, it wasn’t their decision. It was Amanda who insisted he take this step. He didn’t want to, but she convinced him it was the only way he could be sure things were over with Janet.

His thoughts were interrupted when he walked into the concourse and a small voice cried out, It’s Grandpa. Look, Mommy. It’s Grandpa Steve. He’s got a beard and a pony tail.

A wide grin broke out on Steve’s face as he set his basket down and held out his arms to the little boy. Grandpa, Grandpa, I’m glad you’re back. I’m glad you’re not dead. The little boy fell into his grandfather’s waiting arms.

I’m glad too, Johnny. It’s wonderful to see my big boy again. He looked up and added, And my beautiful granddaughters. You girls look so pretty and so grown up.

Candy and Robin threw their arms around Steve. We love you, Grandpa. Welcome home, they said almost in unison.

And you, Claudia. You look as pretty as the day my son married you.

Steve, you’re just like your son, you’ve always been a charmer. She swallowed tears and hugged her father-in-law.

Welcome back, Dad. Dave embraced his father. Both men were fighting tears.

It’s good to be back, son. It’s wonderful to see all of you.

No one else appeared to greet him and he didn’t ask why. He wasn’t ready to know.

Grandpa we looked at your picture a lot. Daddy didn’t want us to forget you, Candy was holding his arm.

I looked too, Johnny said. Didn’t I, Mommy?

Yes, honey, you did.

That’s how I know you Grandpa. Daddy said you’d have a beard.

Daddy was right, wasn’t he? He grinned at Johnny. I didn’t have any pictures, but I looked at all of you in my heart every day.

And you were always in our thoughts and prayers, Dad.

They were in the car and headed toward the farm in Wendover when Claudia said, We want you to spend the night with us, Steve. We have a lot to tell you.

I figured you did. It’s obvious something’s going on.

Why don’t we wait and go into it when we get to the house? Dave suggested.

That’s fine with me. Steve turned and began asking his grandchildren about what happened in their lives during his absence.

Chapter 3

Twenty-Seven Months Earlier...

The survivors were making some progress. They could no longer see any debris or other signs of the wreckage. Neither could they see much of an island, though the direction they were headed was a bit darker than when they started. Amanda still wasn’t convinced there was an island, but she said nothing. She didn’t want to kill anyone’s hopes. The second group of kickers was doing a good job while the first group rested.

Amanda found herself between the grey-haired man and a man who didn’t want to talk to anyone, but kept muttering about the futility of their situation. The last thing she’d heard him say as he furiously kicked the water was, Might as well let the sharks get us. They probably will anyway.

She turned toward the grey-haired man and shook her head. He smiled back at her.

My name’s Amanda, she said.

Steve.

Thanks for getting the life jacket, Steve. I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the group without it.

No problem. His eyes were kind.

They said nothing for a while. Amanda knew she needed to take advantage of the rest period while the men on each side of her kicked.

Steve broke the silence. I hate to ask this, but did you lose anyone back there, Amanda?

No and I’m thankful for that. I was traveling alone. How about you?

I was alone, too.

She didn’t ask why, though she noticed the wedding band on his finger. Instead she said, "At least we don’t have to cope with that