My Night on Fire Island

by Roderick T. Long

[written around 12, or 1976-ish, in Idaho Falls. This was a school assignment, for which inspiration never quite struck; hence the strained attempts to feign interest in such mysteries as fishing and baseball.]

It was a large lake, and we were not allowed to go all the way out in it – although we had been to Fire Island once or twice. However, Fire Island was large too, and although we knew the Northern half pretty well, we had never been on the southern half, which was coarsely populated with trees. We were not going to Fire Island that day, however. We were just fishing. We hardly ever caught anything – at least I never did, although Davy caught a few small fish every now and then.

We had’t expected the storm. The sky was dark and cloudy, but it was often that way. It was getting dark, and we would have to get home soon. We hadn’t caught any fish, because we really didn’t have the patience to wait around that long. Usually we went fishing in the afternoon, but today we had come home late from a baseball game.

The storm, when it came, thundered down upon us before we knew it. The waves rolled higher and higher till, for the second time in my life, I became actually seasick. (The first time wasn’t on the water at all, but when I was a little boy on my first Subway trip on a vacation in New York.) Davy didn’t look too well either.

Suddenly, a larger wave overturned the little boat, and we fell headlong into the churning waters. We looked for the boat – and it was not till then that we realized a thick fog had come out. Where was the boat? We had no Idea where to swim.

Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of the mainland, and swam furiously in that direction with Davy close behind me. But then I realized that it was too close for the mainland. And then, before us, out of the fog, loomed Fire Island!

We dragged ourselves slowly up into the beach. We collapsed, and lay there on the sand like some primeval amphibians in their first experience on land. Then, I pushed myself up and staggered over to Davy, and helped him to his feet.

The prospect of spending the night on the island seemed undesirable, but it was also unavoidable. It was cold, but there was nothing to use as a blanket, so we just lay down on the beach to go to sleep.

The night noises of the island were very discomfiting. The wind grew colder, and we soon were shivering. I wondered what my parents and Davy’s thought had happened to us. They might not have thought that we had gone fishing, since we usually did that in afternoons. I wondered uneasily about it and asked Davy, but he had gone fast to sleep. Nothing ever worries him. I finally got to sleep.

When I woke up the forest was wet with dew. Davy was already up and looking intently at something in the distance. It was coming closer and closer, and soon had pulled up alongside the beach. I never thought I would be so happy to hear the putt-putt-putt of my dad’s motorboat.

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