Hey there, my dears! I’m back with another Cameras and Pens Contest challenge! Part of these characters and storyline ideas are from a story I’ve been rolling around in my head for a couple of years. Who knows, maybe I’ll write it sometime. Until then, I hope you enjoy this short story and accompanying illustrations! 🙂
Prompts Used: 3
Art Submitted: 6
Photos Submitted: 3
Total Points: 22
~ e x p e d i t i o n ~
Aeryn slung her backpack over her shoulder, swept up her long, mocha-brown hair into a loose bun, and headed over to her sister’s house. Her leather moccasins padded silently over the springy path of moss and lush undergrowth that grew up so fast in the island’s rainforest climate. She grabbed a handful of pink berries in passing and chewed them contentedly, humming to herself and wondering if they would find anything interesting on their expedition today. They nearly always found something good after a storm.
She felt the familiar thrill as she raced across the plank-and-vine bridge they had built years ago, smiling as the floor bounced and swayed under her feet and the rough vines slid quickly past her fingers. Had it really been four years since they had built it together?
Aeryn wondered for the millionth time how many years before that they had lived on this island, or if they had lived her all their lives. She wondered if the world was just water past this island or if there were more islands somewhere else. The current was too vicious and protective to let them get anywhere out of sight of the shoreline even if they’d wanted to leave.
She sighed as she walked straight up to her sister’s wooden door instead of climbing a rope ladder like there was at her own house. That was one of the reasons she and her sister had decided to live separately: Aeryn loved heights and Tasha despised them. She was about to push open the door when she noticed the yellow pumpkin staring innocently up at her from the step.
“Hey, Tash,” Aeryn said as she stepped inside the airy room. The sunlight filtering through the palm-leaf roof danced across her sister hair – hair the exact same shade as hers.
Tasha looked up from the bag she was filling for the expedition. “Yeah?”
“Why is your pumpkin still here?”
“What are you talking about? I threw it out a long time ago.”
Aeryn shook her head. “Then how come it’s sitting on your step again? And hold on, was the scarecrow like that yesterday?”
Tasha heaved the sack onto her shoulder and peered out the open window. She looked surprised to see the pumpkin sitting there and the scarecrow lying forlornly in the dirt nearby. She shrugged. “Huh. Maybe Terence was in a bad mood or something.”
Aeryn followed her sister out of the house, frowning. “I… don’t think so. How could a toucan knock over that heavy scarecrow? It was probably the wind from the storm last night.They argued about it as they hiked down the hill, under towering trees dripping with moss and vines and ferns, past roaring waterfalls that sprinkled their faces, over twinkling creeks, and around huge green-haired boulders.
When they reached the shore they still hadn’t arrived at a conclusion, but suddenly the argument died on their lips.
“What,” Tasha whispered, “is that?”
Something black and shiny and covered with seaweed sprawled in a heap at the edge of the ocean. Tasha hung back, but Aeryn crept closer and narrowed her eyes, inspecting the thing closely. She chewed her lip and scrunched her nose in concentration. They had never seen anything like this on their expeditions. She flicked off a piece of seaweed and then screeched, scrambling back in terror as the black thing made a shuddering movement.
“Tasha, it’s… alive.”
Tasha’s eyes widened as wide as they could go, which was considerably wide seeing as her eyes were quite large to begin with. “Is it a beached whale?” she asked in a hushed voice.
In answer, the black heap began to move again, slowly and with what looked like great effort. As it unfolded itself, the two sisters could make out a head and a body, arms and legs, and rumpled gray clothes.
And a face. A face like theirs and yet completely different. While the girls both had light brown hair and lightly tanned skin and light periwinkle eyes, everything about the stranger was dark: curly black hair and glistening black-brown skin and black-brown eyes to match.The stranger just stared dazedly at them for a while as if trying to sort something out in his head, and then spoke in a soft but oddly deep voice. A voice like the rich bitter-sweetness of cacao beans, Tasha thought. “I’m not a whale. I’m a boy; Terence.”
The girls blinked and backed away. This was getting way too strange. For one thing, what on earth was a boy? And for another thing, Terence was their pet toucan, not this… whatever it was… this chocolate person.
Terence laughed a raspy but booming laugh, and the girls jumped. “I guess you never heard of boys, huh? Because you… wow you girls must be The Twins.” He stopped and looked awestruck for a moment. “Thirteen years. Thirteen years on this island, all by yourself. And – just look at you! As like as two peas in a pod.” He shook his head in amazement. “I can’t believe it, I sure can’t believe it.”
A hundred thoughts were screaming to be picked up in the girls’ minds. What are twins? We’ve really been here thirteen years? I didn’t even know anyone knew about us. I didn’t even know there was anyone else. Is this Tarence person safe? But finally Aeryn chased down one of the questions, grabbed it by the tail, and forced it out her mouth. “Are you… one of us?”
He smiled, flashing the big, bright white teeth set into his dark face. “Sure am.” He saw them looking him up and down and cleared his throat. “Well, I mean I’m not exactly like you – you’re girls and I’m a boy, you know. See… it’s like with animals. Two different kinds of the same animals, two different kinds of same humans – boys and girls. See?”
When they still looked skeptical, he added, “Well that and my skin is a different color, but that don’t make any difference. Lots of folks are all different colors, but we’re still people, see? We might look a little different on the outside, but our insides be the same colors. Not that I ever checked for certain, you understand.” He flashed another grin and they tried to return it but failed miserably.
Two brilliant butterflies chased each other past his face and his eyebrows jumped. “Oh hey, I know. Okay, so some butterflies gonna be yellow, some gonna be red, others gonna be black, see? But they’re all butterflies just the same, and they’re all downright pretty no matter the color. Make sense? Now, course we’re different from those butterflies, you know, ’cause they don’t even know they’re different colors atall, they don’t even know what colors are, now do they?” He looked at them kindly and they nodded, relaxing at last, understanding at last. “You got me. I knew you would. You’re not scared of me now, huh?”
They smiled a little and shook their heads. Tasha stepped forward just a bit and said shyly, “I’m not scared. I think you’re beautiful. I wish I could have chocolate skin.”
Terence chuckled gratefully. “Naw, you’re skin is good the way it is. I think you’re beautiful too – both of you.” He smiled easily at them, then shook his head in amazement again. “I can’t believe I just been talking to the famous Twins! We all thought you was dead! Aw shucks, I thought I was gonna be dead when that storm come up. That ocean don’t seem to want people to find you, huh? I guess it’s pretty good at keeping secrets. But I’m done with secrets. I’ve had too many for my liking already, so I’ll tell you anything you want to know if you want to hear it. And say, you girls better tell me how you managed to survive all the way out here! But first…” Terence broke off and looked down at himself guiltily. “Do y’all have a place where I could refresh myself? And maybe… get a drink or a bite to eat?”
His eyes gleamed longingly as he spoke the last words and Tasha, the motherly one, could see that he was quite in need of nourishment. Aeryn at last had warmed up to his easy manner and was willing to help him, on the condition he would talk while they walked.
That wasn’t a hard condition for Terence, who routinely also talked while he slept. And so as they walked slowly back to Aeryn’s house, he gradually pulled their past out of the mist. And the twins, listening with wide eyes, almost wished it had stayed there.
That was rather fun to write. 😀 Did you enjoy this story? What was your favorite piece of art or photo?
Also I know I just posted CPC challenge not too long ago and now here’s another one, so I may or may not just post the next challenge on my CWWC page. (Hmm, perhaps I need to change that title. XD) If you’re interested, I also have the two other challenges I did not post so far on that page as well.
Have a lovely day, lovely people! ♥
P. S. If you’re in the mood for more reading, you should totally check out the latest WordCrafters chapter here! Sarah did an amazing job on it. 😀