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The Art of Survival

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Day: 34 (Epilogue)

I am rescued.

By rescued, I don't mean someone else did it.

We did it, Miranda and I. We rescued ourselves, others be damned.

It’s hard to believe that there was ever a day without Miranda. One day I was sitting on an airplane disgusted with my dedication to her, when every idea bearing the signature and essence of Miranda overloaded my senses with repugnance, and in another day, another place… she became my entire life.

I couldn’t help but come to love her.

If I had washed ashore with a person who had abandoned me, left me to die and lived on the other side of the island as I fended for myself… perhaps I could not have helped but love them, either. To beg them to speak to me. To give over everything I owned and was to that person, in exchange for a little portion of themselves to hold on to.

It's after midnight at the American Embassy in Tokyo.

I’m watching a Japanese-dubbed version of The Office.

I have no idea what's going on. It’s pretty funny.

“Did that woman mention when we'll be receiving real food?”

“Nope.” I take a hearty swig of milk water as Miranda eyes her bottle with disdain. Nevertheless, she sips it. It's her fifth bottle. The Japanese doctors say her unconsciousness probably did her a lot of good.

Unlike me. They've already forced eight bottles down my throat, whereas Miranda is sipping at her leisure.

We're too delicate to eat food, apparently, to my stomach's distress.

“I dropped you onto a rock on accident,” Miranda suddenly blurts out. She stares hard at the large oak-finished door that leads into the office we're currently sitting in, pursing her lips.

“Um,” I say. “That's okay.” Then she waves a hand vaguely at my stomach. “Oh. Oh. That's, um. That's still okay.”

“I flew back to New York so I could be at Stephen's wedding. I didn't know about it until that morning. He didn't invite me. I don't know what I was going to do when I got there, precisely. All I knew was that he didn't want me there enough to schedule it in secret on a date when I was out of the country. So I had to spite him.”

I don't feel anything about that. What's done is done. We're alive.

“Would it be in bad taste to say you probably crashed his wedding anyway, in absentia?”

“Well yes,” Miranda smirks, “but I wouldn't expect anything less from you.”

I watch her throat as she swallows. “And... We... I need to know...” she trails off uncertainly, searching for words.

“I meant everything,” I tell her fiercely.

“And I as well, of course” she says readily as the nervousness falls off of her. A smile spreads slowly on her face. I'm not sure she realizes it's there. “I don't suppose there's anything you need to get off your chest, to make this conversation feel more even-sided?”

“Nope.” I flash my teeth at her.

“What happened with the sharks?” she questions curiously.

“Well...” I feel my face start to burn. "Uh, I may have, um... used myself as bait and stabbed a shark. And it started bleeding and all the other sharks went insane and started eating it, and I paddled as--"

Miranda pulls me into a hard, desperate kiss. I taste her lips, reveling in the warm burning in my chest that only Miranda and her sweet-tasting kisses have ever given me.

A Japanese woman in a pantsuit knocks on the door then pops her head in. “The ambassador be with you in a minute,” she chirps, then pops out.

Soon an American will walk through the door and sit behind this pretentiously enormous desk and ask us to recount everything that's occurred. Every action Miranda and I have taken to survive, hard-pressed, cruel and sometimes savage, will be minimized into words. An interesting story, mildly astonishing and easily forgettable.

Miranda takes her seat gracefully beside me and crosses her legs, examining the ins and outs of the office decor with a critical eye. “I'll do the talking.”

I flash her a smile. Not because I'm appreciative of her take charge attitude, though I am. I'm charmed by her protectiveness, even now. She doesn't need to protect me anymore.

I'll let her, but I don't need it anymore.

I pull her chin toward me and press my lips against hers. Miranda gasps – then her eyes flutter shut.

I make a silent promise to Miranda.

It's the most important lesson that the island – and Miranda – have taught me. The most important promises are the ones you don't utter aloud. The ones made to others without saying a word, and the ones you make to yourself, are the most holy. They're the ones that are a sin to break.

I will be as strong for Miranda as she was for me.

I will not give up on her. Never.

I make these promises to Miranda without a sound, then take her cold hand and clasp it in mine.

“We're going home,” I swear to her, and Miranda squeezes my fingers. Her gaze locks on mine, her eyes flashing bright and full of hope. Eyes like she believes me.

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The End.