We continue with our Project Pegasus fictional story about Charlie the Boot Maker. After being marooned on a desert island for a year in Chapter 1, Charlie is rescued by a group of fishermen. Will he continue on his journey to Texas?
The ship was a fishing ship. The fishermen were amazed to find Charlie. They told him that they were sailing to another island, to harvest a special type of sea creature. These creatures, when crushed, made the most brilliant purple. It was the same purple that the senators of Rome wore. Most people in Charlie’s age thought that all of the creatures were long since gone, but the sailors had heard a story about one island where they still lived. The sailors told Charlie that after they had harvested all of the sea creatures, they would bring him back with them to their home port. From there, he would be able to take another ship to Texas.
After several weeks of sailing, they reached this island. It was a steep, rocky island. At the water’s edge, among the breakwater pools, were thousands of the sea creatures, holding tight to the rocks. The sailors were very happy. They would become very rich men. They bragged about who would buy the most expensive house and court the prettiest woman. Charlie didn’t care about expensive houses or impressing woman. Looking at the thousands upon thousands of sea creatures, he guessed the sailors would be harvesting them for days, if not weeks. He figured he would explore the island a little bit while the sailors worked.
The island was steep with cliffs, but not barren. Charlie thought it was quite beautiful, in a sharp sort of way. The rocks made walking difficult. He made his way up higher and higher away from the water, scrambling and even climbing at times. He felt like a mountain goat. The past year on the sandy island had prepared him well for keeping balance on the rocks. In fact, he felt no fear as he made his way ever upwards.
At one point, he paused to look down. He was quite far up and the sailors looked like insects, scurrying around the tidal pools far below him. While he rested, a brilliant blue butterfly appeared. It was iridescent, like a jewel, and it fluttered around his head for a moment, before flying up and away from him. He watched where it had gone. He was almost at the summit of the island. Regaining his footing on the rocks, he continued upwards.
He had not climbed far when the ground leveled off and he came upon a most amazing sight. The steep rocks fell away to reveal a green meadow, lush with flowers in full bloom. Each flower was more delicate and radiant that the one before it. Every color imaginable found a place upon their petals. The meadow, however, held more than just flowers. In the middle rose a palace of brilliant white stone. It stretched up towards the sky, arches intertwined with spires, all flowing together as if they had grown from the very stone of the island. Everything was adorned and fragrant. Charlie was captivated.
As he was standing there looking over the meadow, a woman’s voice spoke from over his shoulder, “Welcome to my island, pretty thing.”
Charlie turned to find the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. If he had been in awe of the meadow and palace, he was now completely beholden. Deep black hair framed a face that was as delicate as the flowers of the meadow. Her eyes, however, pierced with a sharpness that mirrored the rocks Charlie had climbed over. She wore a shimmering blue dress, that fluttered down to her ankles. He noticed that she wore no shoes. Charlie was transfixed, unable to move, let alone talk. Her beauty had taken his breath away.
A mischievous smile formed upon her lips. “Not many men are able to climb the heights of my home. You must have a light step indeed, young man. Tell me, what is your name?”
Charlie struggled to regain himself. He tried to say something, but nothing came from his lips.
She laughed, “Well then, stranger, come with me and I will show you my home.” She reached out and touched Charlie’s arm. Her touch brought Charlie back to his senses and he found his voice. “Charlie!” he blurted out. “My name is Charlie,” he said in a calmer voice.
She smiled and began leading him towards the center of the meadow. Charlie followed, not wanting her touch to leave his arm. They reached the steps of the palace, where a terrace spread out before them.
“Tell me, Charlie, do you dance?” she asked. She stepped up onto the terrace and offered her hand. He paused for a moment, thoughts of the ship and the sailors racing through his mind. A gentle breeze blew past him, carrying her fragrance. Overcome, he reached out to take her hand. He stepped up to join her on the terrace.
Charlie was not a dancer. In fact, he had never held a woman in his arms before. He looked down at her feet. He could see the little muscles in her feet twitch as she shifted her weight. He could imagine his feet doing the same. He took a step and felt her respond to his movement. He thought of how the rhythm of the ocean felt through the sand on his former island. He began to dance around the terrace, trusting his feet to carry him along. With each step, Charlie felt himself more and more in balance. His steps become lighter and lighter. Charlie felt the woman matching his intensity. It was if she was flying upon his arms, her blue dress fluttering behind her. Her eyes, however, never moved from his. Charlie was lost in the moment.
After what seemed like an eternity, Charlie slowed and stopped the dance. He felt at once both charged and drained, as if he had surrendered a part of himself to her. It dawned on him that he didn’t know her name. He asked.
She gazed off into the distance, as if she was looking far over the horizon. The silence stretched out across the meadow. Finally she looked back at Charlie and said, “You may call me Kalina and you will stay with me on my island.”