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Fiction Inspirational

Logan lived in hiding on the island for his whole life.


The island had always provided them with plenty of nourishment and fresh water. It seemed as if it was just another day in paradise but, on this day, the island couldn’t provide Dorothy with any compassion. She laid in a shivering and wet fever inside the sturdy, man-made wooden hut. Another night like this and Logan feared she wouldn’t make it and he would be all alone. He knew what needed to be done but didn’t know if he had the courage to do it.


‘Mother, what can I do?’ Logan desperately requested, as he sat on the sandy floor by her side. The storms wind had eased but still blew a gentle sea breeze, swaying the palm trees outside. His mother laid on the bed, cushioned with soft banana leaves, while tugging on the worn and torn knitted blankets.


‘Give me your hand’ Dorothy whispered, using much of her strength to touch Logan’s. Her skin was damp but her lips were dry and cracked with tired blue bags under her eyes. Her usual sun-bleached blonde hair was dank on her face.


‘Shall I fetch some more leaves? Are you comfortable enough?’ Logan offered.


‘I’m so c-c-cold son, can you get another blanket?’ Dorothy shivered.


‘But mother, you already have them. And you are burning up!’ Logan said while reaching for her forehead to check her temperature.


‘The storm has passed; I thought you would be better by morning. What is happening?’ Logan asked.


‘I fear. That you have to do something for me’ Dorothy muttered.


‘I will do what I can, despite my limited capabilities’ Logan said, leaning closer to listen attentively.


‘I need medicine, and it’s only available on the mainland…’Dorothy hesitantly explained.


‘But mother, I can’t go to the mainland. You said you don’t know how the people will react. What if they beat me, or worse, kill me and make me a sacrifice?’ Logan asked.


‘They still act in primitive ways. But I fear, that if you do not go, then I will not make it, like your father. We have kept you safe on the island away from those evil people who look down on you. We’ve only done this to protect you. But if you don’t go, then I fear you will be all alone’ Dorothy said, fatigued and dehydrated.


‘You know I can’t do normal things that you and father can. Since father has passed away, I can’t even repair the roof. And what if I can’t make it across?’ Logan exclaimed, as water continued to drip through the hut’s porous straw roof.


‘You will have to make a choice. If you stay, you will be safe here, but I may not make it through and be able to protect you. But if you go, they may be frightened of you and respond in violence. If you cover your face, as I showed you with the scarf, then you may be able to go to the store with blue doors without being detected and come straight back’ Dorothy explained.


She began to take short, wheezing breaths. Logan feared he couldn’t raise any further concerns without straining her more. All he could do was nod in agreement without revealing his decision.


‘Whatever you decide, know that I will always love you’ Dorothy said, as Logan fed her some fresh rain water and waited as she rested her eyes.


The sun ascended the horizon and flickered through the trees. The night rain clouds had dissipated. It was the season where it would rain all night but clear up for mostly blue skies in the day with patchy clouds. Logan took some time to think about the choice he had to make.


As the sand began to heat, he dug his small tanned feet under the surface of the refreshingly cool sand underneath. Logan sat just out of reach of the gentle tide that delivered small waves onto the smooth white sand. He took some shelter from the glaring sun under his favourite bending palm tree that reached out towards the water. While most of the other palm trees shot up straight as an arrow, he liked this tree because it reminded him of himself.


Odd; an outcast. And reaching across the water for the mainland.


But today, he wasn’t sure if he was ready to reach that far. He could continue his endless days in paradise. Alone. Or he could face what lies on the other side. What will happen if society rejects me? He thought. But the possibility of losing his mother quelled any personal fear. He convinced himself that he was willing to take any chance to save her.


He prepared the fishing boat which was small, old and worn, but yet had managed to stay afloat after all these years. As he prepared for the journey, he understood: This was it, now or never. It would be the first time he would leave the island and possibly his last ever. With all his strength, he pushed the boat into the water and struggled to jump in. Despite his thick forearms, the oars where big and heavy but he managed to row towards the mainland in the distance.


He got his first victory as he defeated the breaking waves in the surf. After that, he glanced back over the sparkling calm water and fare welled the island as it began to shrink in the distance. He had never been this far out, let alone by himself.


He remembered that when other fishing boats came to roughly this distance, he would run for the cave and hide, staying out of sight as rehearsed. It wasn’t the fear of pirates raiding their inconsequential possessions, but the fear of how anyone from the mainland would react if they saw him. Some may consider him possessed by an evil spirit or bad omen. His father believed that this may compel them to make a sacrifice to the gods to better their chances of catching fish. He recalled once before hiding in the darkness for the whole night as a small boat boarded a nearby beach. It was for his own safety; his father had cautioned.


With every row pulling him closer, he started to question why his father had said that. Secretly, he had always wondered what sort of people lived on the mainland. How will the reception be when I arrive? Will they let me pass? What if I’m greeted with pitch forks or spears? Logan thought deeply, causing his heart to race. He digested multiple scenarios, most of which led to a violent and degrading death, replaying them in his mind on a continuous loop.


Floating closer to the mainland, he could see a figure in the distance looking in his direction, waving at him vigorously. He had never been this close to anyone other than his parents. He opted not to raise his fatigued arms in reply but instead paused rowing. The forward momentum of his rickety vessel drifted closer to the foreign soil ahead. His breath quickened and his vision narrowed. He could feel every pulse of his heart beating through his chest, nearing explosion. The instinct of fight or flight began to set in. A thought entered his mind that maybe Dorothy had improved and he should turn back and give her another day. But he continued on, scrambling to wrap the scarf around his face as Dorothy had instructed.


As he approached the dock, he observed the waving figure was a man, wearing dark slacks and a worn-out beige shirt with his sleeves rolled up. The man reached for an old rope on the floor from the weathered dock. Logan’s heart stopped and he felt the blood drain from his face. Is this it? Is this how they treat freaks? They are going to hang me! Would they even care about mother?


The man threw him the rope and shouted. ‘My God child! How did you row here all by yourself? Grab the rope and I’ll pull you in!’ It was a dock master, Logan realised. 

Feeling slightly relieved, he quietly followed the old man’s instructions. Logan watched the experienced harbourmaster tie the old boat to the shore, observing every move and analysing every detail, starting from the brown Brood snap cap on top, and his worn black suspenders stretched over his sturdy shoulders. His scruffy and scratched black boots shuffled across the deck as he pulled the boat in. No signs of violence yet, he thought.


The dock master reaches out with his rough, callused hands covered in dirt and grease.


‘Here son, I’ll help you up’.


As Logan looked up, he reluctantly took his hand to elevate himself off the boat. His scarf falls down and a pang of fear strikes. The dock master took a proper look at him and instantly steps back. He simultaneously pulled away his hand, and wiped it against the rear of the trousers as if to avoid infection.


‘Thank you’ Logan muttered as he briskly rushed past and up the pier towards the town, without looking back.


Pacing into town, he noticed the buildings are tall and made of brick, much stronger than the wooden structures back home. He locked his eyes onto a giant horse as it pulled a cart towards him. He wondered if the huge beast could eat him in two bites and deviated from his path to a safer distance.


Avoiding eye contact with anyone, Logan finds the drug store with bright turquoise-coloured doors. He checks for the gold coins in his pocket and hears them clank in the pouch as he presses. He sighed deeply and took a deep breath and cleared his throat as he reached up for the door handle. He faltered to open it, pushing and pulling before eventually turning the solid iron knob. He had never operated a door knob before, he thought as he entered the store. The doorbell alerted the attendant who sat behind the counter reading over some papers, barely looking up as Logan cautiously entered.


‘Welcome lad, how can I help you?’ The attendant asked, this time raising his head to take in the customer.


‘Umm, hello. I need some medicine. For my mother. She has the fever’ Logan stutters.


The attendant paused, setting down his reading glasses, examining Logan.


‘I’ve never seen you in this town?’ The attendant questioned, curiously.


‘I’m not from here, I live on an island’


‘Which island do you live?’ the attendant asked, while walking over to the front door to change the sign from open to closed, locking the latch behind him.


‘I-I-I live on the island across from the docks, with my mother, Dorothy’ Logan said hesitantly. He had instantly regretted giving away so much information. Even if he were to escape today, he thought they could still come and find him on the island now.


‘My goodness, I don’t believe it. Stay right there!’ The attendant demanded as he rushed out into the back room.


Logan could hear the attendant talking to someone else but couldn’t make out the soft second voice. He couldn’t understand what they were saying and his mind began to wander. What if he comes back with a gun? Are they planning something worse? Father had warned that they may kill freaks like me.


The attendant returned holding the hand of a short girl in one hand, and the medicine in the other.


‘Here you go; this medicine will help her’ the attendant said, as he handed the package over. Logan accepted gleefully and looks at the girl and realised that she had a slight hunched back but wore a baggy white dress adorned with small blue flowers. Logan noticed she had the same bowing legs as him and was the same height of 4 or so feet tall yet looked much older than her height would suggest.


‘Isabella, I’d like you to meet someone. I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name?’ The attendant asked.


‘Logan.’


‘Hi Logan’ Isabella said. Logan’s cheeks blushed red and he looked down without a further reply.


‘I’ve never met another dwarf before. It’s nice to meet you’ Isabella said politely.


An awkward silence befell the room as Logan’s words all but escaped him. He couldn’t help but to think of what his father had told him: that people on the mainland thought he was born sick and that some cultures recommended any offspring born deformed should be put away.


‘Logan, I am Cornelius. This is my daughter. She has just turned 18 years old. She helps me in the store. How old are you?’


‘I’m 25. I didn’t think people like me, us, could work in a store’ Logan said surprised.


‘Many folks in town do believe that, and some have refused to be served by Isabella. But I assure you, people like you, and Isabella, can most definitely work in a store like this. People like you can do many things’ Cornelius explained.


‘I don’t understand; my parents told me people on the mainland may consider me as hexed. My father said they would throw me into the sea and that they had to protect me from birth’ Logan said.


‘I’m sorry your parents felt that way Logan, but not everyone believes those tales. I have worked hard to show the town that people like Isabella are not inferior. Not everyone agrees. But you can contribute to society just as much as anyone else. Yes, you and Isabella, are different, but not inferior. Isabella has worked with me for years and can run this store better than anyone. And you son, you have managed to row across a great distance that most cannot do. You must have the heart of a lion. If you take this medicine back to your mother, and save her, you will also prove to the town what good you are capable of’ Cornelius said.


‘Thank you, sir, I did not expect this. I must be off, though. I fear my mother was not well when I left and she needs this medicine. And I still have a big journey ahead. Here, take this!’ Logan reached for his pouch and offered to hand over the gold coins.


‘No no Logan, I will not accept. The medicine is free. Go save your mother and when she has recovered, if you wish to return, I would be more than happy to offer you a job in the store and help introduce you to our society' Cornelius offered.


‘I don’t know what to say. Thank you, I must talk about this with mother first’ Logan said. He fare-welled Isabella and Cornelius and left the store.


Walking back to the docks, Logan didn’t bother wearing his scarf. He realised that although some people gave him funny looks, no one went out of their way to be aggressive to him. This was not the world he or his parents had expected and he couldn’t wait to show his mother.


The next morning, Dorothy woke up and could see Logan standing on some thick branches of wood outside the hut. Standing on a weak structure made of only a few branches, he was able to reach over the roof and she asked what he was doing.


‘Ah mother, I’m so glad you’re feeling better. The medicine has worked. There was another storm during the night and water leaks from the roof. I’ve decided that I’m going to fix it today, although I’m not sure if we will need to. Yes, I am short, but I am also light, so the branches will support my weight, unlike yours. When I am done, I have a lot to tell you. And we will have a very important decision to make. I want to go back to the mainland'.

March 03, 2021 11:08

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2 comments

Andrew Fedz
22:14 Mar 07, 2021

After attending Shaelins online short story work shop a few weeks ago, I really tried to focus on short story structure and developing the protagonist while trying to keep some suspense. Please let me know if there's any feedback. Thank you

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Arwen Dove
02:45 Apr 29, 2021

Great story!

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