They don’t talk as they follow the Island Master.
Tabe, Aisha, and Fala walk just slightly behind the Island Master. The mink is slow but steady, leading them away from the church, and the sparse forest, and the beach where Fala was dropped. They pass by the white shoreline, moving instead to a cluster of stones and crags that butt up against the ocean.
“I saw it here last,” says the Island Master. “A bird tried to take it, a gull not from this island. It wanted the shine, no doubt. Birds are simple like that.”
Aisha fluffs up with offense. “Hey!”
The Island Master is not fazed by her protest. He gestures to a crag halfway down the Cliffside. “There is the watch. The bird dropped it, and it got wedged between the rocks.”
“Och! Of course it did! That’s my blarney luck, no doubt.” Fala snorts, growls, and grumbles as he walks over to the edge of the cliff. The Island Master is correct – the watch is wedged between the stones, no longer ticking but still faintly glimmering in the faint sunlight.
Aisha shifts. Her claws dig into Fala’s skin. She takes off from where she had been perched on the Scottish Terrier’s head. “It’s okay! I’ll get the watch for you!”
And down she goes, swift as can be. Aisha is quick about grabbing up the watch in her talons and then swooping back up, circling Fala twice before dropping the watch in front of the dog. The glass facing is cracked. The band is dirty and tarnished.
Aisha lands on Tabe’s shoulder. “There! Now I’m not a liar! I did help you get the watch back!”
“Right,” says Fala, drawing out the word in an attempt to hide his unease. “I suppose you did.”
The Island Master turns to Fala, then, with sharp eyes and a haunting look about him. “You will leave, now.”
“Aye, I plan on it.” Fala picks the watch up in his mouth, turns, and heads back towards the beach. There’s no need for goodbyes on this island.
When Fala gets back to the shore, the doggie door has returned, rimmed in green light and exuding a welcoming sensation. Fala casts one last look around the island – and in that moment, he sees it, and in that moment, the door lets him understand.
For the creatures get along here out of a desperation to survive and a longing not to be alone, and the Island Master is meant to help solve all problems, even in old age, and long into death.
The ways of places outside of Fala’s own, small house seem vast and hard to grasp…and yet, he goes back home with the knowledge that he will not forget this trip, will never forget this island, and will work hard at trying to do better within his own life and within his own old age.
Katelynn E Koontz – Author