Gripping – Day 335 – Susan (Mentor)

At the start of the year I met with my old writing lecturer, Susan (read full story here). Today I met again with her to ask her how to survive after this challenge. She said “tenacity”. In the dictionary the first definition for tenacity is the ability to grip something tightly.

No one knows exactly what is on the island, but anyone that manages to get in never comes back. It was rumoured to get in, you must prove our tenacity by hang on to a rope dangling over the water for as long as you can. The safekeepers of the island will then judge whether you have enough to enter or not. Some people believed this to be the path to great riches but most thought it was a fairytale and a sure fire way to be eaten by barbarians.

Lu was born without arms and lived on the street. She hated begging and stealing. The only thing she liked doing was imagining the island, the way trees might look and the smell of the grass. One day she decided she had nothing to lose. So she stole a small fishing boat early in the morning started the engine with her teeth.

When she arrived two children came to meet her.

“We are the safekeepers.”

“But you’re kids,” Lu said.

“We are the wisest. Would you like to live on the island or not?”

“Yes,” answered Lu.

The two children looked at the space where Lu’s arms would be.

“Er, you know the deal with the rope don’t you?” one asked.

“I still have tenacity,” said Lu. “I can grip things with my mind.”

Lu began to describe how she had imagined the island.

“The bark on the trees have fingerprint patterns, the purple grass smells like rust after it has been washed with soap…”

At first the safekeepers just laughed, but ten hours later most of the island had come to watch her all through the night till her voice was just a husky whisper. One man even broke the rules to give her some water. She described for another day until the safekeepers spoke.

“We see you have much tenacity, welcome.”

When Lu walked through the gates. Everything looked just as she had imagined.

“How could I be right?” she asked.

“The island is what you imagine, most people just see a generic city with money or cars,” answered a safekeeper.

“Yeah all I see is a bunch of trampolines,” said the other.

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Small Ones and Big Ones – Day 323 – For Geoff

This story is for Geoff (one of my mentors for this project) to say thanks for all the help. He is always talking about “knowing one’s self” so I am running with that idea. 

We’re kept apart as much as possible when we are small. We are told that we must know ourselves before we can understand others. The big ones tell us it is so we can be our unique selves. Not be tainted by others.

I try to know myself. I try different foods, different hobbies, different readings. I still feel there is something missing. They tell me I am not ready, I don’t know myself. I feel alone. I wonder if I am the only one who feels like this.

One day I see some other small ones from next door. I try to talk to them but a big one leads me away. That night I sneak out and find the other small ones. We talk into the morning. They are lonely too.

I try food I’ve never heard of, hear thoughts I don’t agree with and play games. I feel better.

At first the big ones are angry with us, but then one looks at me closely.

“He’s ready, they helped him,” says the big one.

Small ones are encouraged to interact now.