The two young lovers packed light; taking only their most beloved possessions. Only two things stood in their way: fear of change and the comfort of a stagnant life.
Maybe it was reckless or simply without being thought entirely through, but regardless they left that night. They left to prove not to the world, but to themselves, that they would decide their own fate. They left to prove that the time they had left on this planet would be taken between them and them alone, and not by any others.
Andrew woke up to the same jingle, brushed and parted his hair to the same side, left his apartment at the same time, arrived to work via the same bus and sat at his desk staring at the same picture on his desktop wallpaper that he had for the last 10 years. It was a picture of a seaside cave, quietly fueling his desire to leave the world as he knew it behind him; wanting to leave his “cave” and find a better one.
An email popped up in his inbox. Andrew opened the email which he proceeded to skim:
Congratulations to you, Andrew! Today is your 10th anniversary… we couldn’t be happier… your dedication to this firm… these deeds have not gone unnoticed… typically, two weeks paid vacation… unfortunately, at this time… declining sales… market uncertainty…
Andrew closed the email.
Across town, Sarah was just waking up. Her long brown hair pressed against her face, a result of another restless night. She rubbed her eyes until her vision was no longer blurry to see three missed calls from Andrew and one text which read, “call me – emergency.”
Nervously, Sarah called Andrew, expecting to hear the worst.
“I’ve done it, Sarah, I’ve quit,” he said.
“What? Are you mad? What are we going to do?” she asked.
“What we have always dreamed of. We are going to live on Walden Island.”
“Walden? That’s 80 miles from any civilization.”
He could hear the hesitation in her voice. He knew it was always just a dream to her, until now. “It can finally be just you and I, Sarah.”
“Okay,” she said, still with reservation, “what should I tell my parents?”
“It’s better that you don’t.” With that, he heard a small whimper escape her lungs and transmit through the phone into his ear with the impact of a freight train. “I know you are nervous,” he assured her, “but that is normal. I love you, Sarah. Meet me at Harbor Rentals at 10:30.”
“I love you, too,” she managed to respond.
At the dock, they boarded the small craft which held enough fuel for the one-way trip it was never intended for. Sarah became sick at least 8 times, leaning over the side of the boat. By the fourth hour, she had passed out from exhaustion and with a lack of any confidence that Andrew knew if they were still on track.
The boat comes aground on the island. Sarah wakes up. She looks around and sees the island in panorama.
“It’s…” she stammers, “it’s beautiful, Andrew!”
They leave the boat and begin to walk the beach along the edge of the island, where they come upon a cave, just like on the computer in Andrew’s office. The tide slowly creeps onto the jagged rocks which span the opening. Elated, Andrew leaps from rock to rock. He feels a freedom that hasn’t been bestowed to him since he was a young child.
“Andrew, slow down!” Sarah yells.
“If I could contain myself, I wo…” his voice cut off by the air escaping his lungs as he falls. A wet patch of algae beneath his shoe is his undoing as gravity pulls his body into adjacent rocks while his foot becomes wedged between two.
From where she stands, Sarah only sees his body struggling to keep above the incoming tide as Andrew writhes in pain frantically pulling on his leg, praying to every God he ever learned of just to get it free. She is engulfed in fear and begins to act solely from instinct.
At that moment, he hears Sarah shriek. A sound that pierces him beyond the pain that he is currently enduring.
She offers aloud the last words he will ever hear, the last words before his body enters shock and he can no longer keep his head above water:
“Oh God, no… Andrew! My phone is dead!”