The Islander

The Islander

Excerpt from Chapter 1

On the horizon, the sun now flickered over the land of silhouettes, sometimes hiding behind bruise-blue clouds, creating little sparks of light on the surface of the water. These were the glints of light that poets wrote about. To the south, out in the sea on another smaller island a half-a-mile away, the lighthouse—automated for more than ten years—became visible. And looking north, something unexpected. Moving slowly into the frame of the windowpane came a shadow, a shape. Seamus leaned toward the glass, lowering his eyeglasses and squinting, hoping for a better look. The shape progressed unhurriedly, stopping for a moment, and then moving again. A man, it appeared to him now. Not an unusual sight, but surprising at this hour. Those who came to the is- land with a permit to hike its edges and stay in the field where a backpacker’s tent was allowed, usually came later in the summer months. And when they did, Seamus paid little attention, even staying inside his house to avoid the obligation of a wave or smile. He didn’t mind their presence; he understood why they came. He knew few if any would stay very long. But what he was seeing now was different—this hiker, alone at first light, in biting sea air, early in the season.

The hiker carried a small pack, and wore what appeared to be a longshoreman’s cap, as the mornings were most often windy. Olivia was up on all fours and against Seamus’ knee, sensing that her master had found something, that some- thing was changing.

“I’m not sure, girl,” Seamus said.

The figure walked from north to south along the shoreline. A few steps and then still, eyes out toward the sea. Seamus continued to watch, seeing only the figure’s back as colors began to emerge in the low light—the backpack olive, pants tan, cap black.

“He must have roughed it out last night,” Seamus said, rubbing Olivia behind the ear, his eyes remaining on the hiker.

It was then that the figure turned toward the house, and even in the distance, even with his old eyes, Seamus could see he was mistaken. He could see now the figure’s falling shoulders, evidence of breasts, and a soft, oval-shaped face. The figure removed the cap, and hair fell to the neck. Hikers on the island were almost always men, and when there was a woman, a man usually walked close by. But this woman, this girl, was walking at the edge of the sea, solitary, in her own time. She lifted her face to the wind and stretched her arms to her sides, standing as if on a cross. For several minutes, she held the pose.

“Well, Olivia. Someone has found some joy this morning.”

In time, the woman returned the cap to her head, and continued walking south, more briskly now, and soon she was gone from the window frame.


Reprinted with permission from David Berner. You can learn more about David and his writing here.