Through all of this, Bandit remained parked right in front of the wreck’s compartment.
Now Max sat cross-legged in the sand, breaking off pieces of the crab halves and chowing down. All the time he had had to hold the pan steady over the fire while shooing Bandit away. In spite of this, he rewarded the cub’s cooperation— however reluctant— with whole chunks of crab meat. He broke it off the shell, and did the same for Bandit, deciding that the creature’s natural armor probably wasn’t very edible to him, either.
Sitting there reminded him of his family’s excursions to Makando, and even Kinsasha a couple times, what Mom always called a picnic. Dad would often laugh and say that, in spite of all the times he had to rough it back in the day, he never lost his enjoyment of camping and eating outdoors. At times like that, he always said that it was simply too nice outside to sit around inside. Always someplace well away from any of the villages or settlements, always someplace with a breathtaking view of the Ocean or the island scenery.
He kept expecting to hear Mom’s laughter, or one of Dad’s quips about how something reminded him of something from his travels. Sometimes it seemed as if everything reminded Robert of something else. Found he was beginning to understand the feeling, wondered if he really wanted to. It made him wonder how his father could laugh so much…
It was then that he realized it. Though Robert traveled through many hardships in his journey, being stranded, having to wander far-away lands, facing unknown dangers, he hadn’t always faced them alone. It began to dawn on him that what either of his parents were so fondly recalled wasn’t being lost or in danger, but traveling in the company of friends.
Max realized how much he himself had taken to leaning on Bandit, seeing his feline friend in a whole new light of appreciation. Wondered if someday he wouldn’t look back on this moment and laugh. Not about being stranded on a desert isle, but at spending time with a new friend, sharing this meal and building a new life here.
For the first time since his arrival, he started to find the idea of living here a little less frightening than before.
As he dug into piece after piece, he again gazed at the sea. His sense of longing was now mixed with fantastic curiosity. As he sank his teeth into every nook and cranny of shell, he wondered if he would ever get to see any of the myriad of places his parents and other travelers had told of. This only made him even more determined to find his way off this island. He didn’t know how, but as both Mom and Dad always said, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
As he fell back in the sand, letting Bandit lick the sticky fingers of first one hand, then the other, Max decided that he was going to build crab nets later. Crabs and berries, he thought, savoring the glow of warm food inside him. Not only needn’t he starve here, but so far, all the food he found tasted great!
As he dozed off in the flickering twilight of dying embers, he wondered what other kinds of food he could find.