Day 3 of my Oulipo experiment. The vowels are the hardest, of course, but with “a” and “e” out of the way, and “i” today, the road may get easier (although of course consonants like “s” and “t” also present their own challenges. Here are pieces missing “g,” “h,” and “i,” all continuing the story of this shipwrecked person….
Have to not worry about the continuance of any action, have to remain firmly in the present. To visit the past would also be a mistake, he realized — too easy to slip into the warm embrace of memory, to try and live in a time before the shipwreck — a perilous temptation. So here he was, by the water. Days had passed. He had eaten a bit, more of the fruit that had stayed down, seemed not to require either an immediate return (on investment?) or to be forcibly ejected in the opposite direction. He could walk more easily, and while too much time in his head wasn’t a useful idea, he had formulated a partial idea — perhaps some flotsam from the wreck might have washed ashore? What had become of the ship itself, part of him wondered, had it sunk? Was that a possibility for a sunken ships in this day and time, or did their wrecks float on eternally, until they came ashore somewhere?
A hazy plan formulated; back to the shore, then back to water, dependent on what he had or hadn’t found. A broader plan could involve attempting to circle the island, yet even as he formulated it he realized he was terrified to leave the steam that had sustained his life behind — to make his way around the island only to die of dehydration seemed a stupid and avoidable fate.
And so back to the sand, to a tiny edge of ocean. Even as it appeared in imagination it grew larger and larger, island smaller and smaller, as if inside a camera’s iris, a lens drawing rapidly away from the planet, a sense of smallness burgeoning inside all Jim, all pained meat of being. Pulled up to feet, walking stick in grasp, faltering steps toward sunlight, toward sand, toward small imagining of rescue, salvation, another survivor, some assistance of some kind. Mental fingers crossed, mental energy directed toward only a solitary next step, a grasping forward of stick and legs. Almost like walking meditation, Jim reflected, almost like Ajahn Vim instructed back on deck, on cool mornings offering leisure time to passengers and travelers making for futures unseen.
He had a hard go, a challenge of a slog. To traverse the whole shore, he thought, would be more than he was capable of — seven steps along the way and he shook, the effort brought sweat all over the body, from scalp to calves, and when he paused to breathe small no-see-ums from the sandy ground would cloud around sweaty ankles and feast. They were more an annoyance than a real threat, but he hated them, rage red and throbbing, and had been able to bend and scratch, slap, push them away, bat them out of the wet atmosphere and back under the turf he would have do so, repeatedly. Trudged onward. Fought heavy damp, fought sun’s beat, fought roots that attempted to catch legs, swampy roots that dangled from banyans and clogged and cluttered the route.