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Survival? Maybe Not... (part 2)
The next week was tragic. Something got into the ocean water we were using and many got sick. The only ones who didn’t were Mrs. Carmi, Ms. York, and me. Abby fell very sick. She was one of the worst cases. Instead of tending to my daily duties, I stayed by her side and gave her Advil every four hours to attempt to make her feel better. Ms. York coaxed me to help her hunt for other water and lakes and stuff while it wasn’t time or Abigail to take more medicine. We found a small stream leading into a waterfall.
Ms. York spotted it first. We had followed the little stream all the way to this clearing with a waterfall pool in it. It was the freshest water I’d every seen. Mixed with the right herbs, this water could be used to cure all the sick people! We ran back with buckets full of water.
When we reached our camp site, news came that Hannah had died. She fell sick as well, and her leg infections had something to do with it, too. We would all grieve for her tonight at the nightly campfire. We had to make a fire now because it was getting cool out and we didn’t want people’s temperatures rising.
“Gabriella,” Ms. York calls. “Come help me with Abigail and Rosie.”
I ran. My leg was capable of doing that now. I didn’t need crutches. I was one of one who got better, not worse. “What do you need me to do?”
“Well now that your leg’s better, maybe you can go find some berries and leaves,” Ms. York suggests. “Raspberries and oak leaves. They work best for fever.”
“Ok,” I say. I trotted off. I found what she told me to look for. I gathered a few hands full. I went back to camp.
“Will this e enough?” I ask when I arrive again.
“Yeah,” she responds. “That should be enough for both of them for about a few days. Thanks.”
“How’s Abigail?” I had to ask.
“She’s doing a lot better,” Ms. York comments. “Her fever’s gone down a lot. She’s awake a lot more, and she can sit up. The spring water helped a lot.”
“Good,” I say. I turn my attention to Abigail. “How’s it goin’?”
“Better,” she responds. “I don’t feel like crap anymore. That’s good.”
“Yes, yes it is,” I can’t help but smile. I would be devastated if Abby died. “You’re doing really well. A lot better than most of the rest of them.”
“Lucky me,” she says sarcastically. “I wish I were like you or Ms. York. I wish I were able to help with all this sickness and stuff. I wish I stayed healthy like you.”
“We don’t all have a strong immune system,” I laugh. Abby smiled.
“Yeah,” she laughs. “I guess not.”
“Glad to see you’re doing better,” I repeat. “The Advil must've helped a lot, huh?”
“Speaking of which,” Abby says. “Isn’t it time for another dose?”
“Oh, right,” I remember. It’s been four hours already? Wow, time goes by fast when you’re on the brink of death. I got Abigail her medicine and she fell asleep. I was ready to too, but I had to keep tending to the sick. I was tired. Right after our campfire, I went straight to bed.
The next day, Mrs. Dawn got way worse. We think she was exposed to too cool of weather. We had no clue how to help her. We tried nectar, oak leaves, raspberries, Advil, everything. By the end of the day, she had only gotten worse. Mrs. Dawn got worse and worse by the hour. Every minute she lived, we were grateful for. We kept giving her medicine in hopes she would get better, but she didn’t. By the end of the week, Mrs. Dawn died. Her vigil was almost as soon as she had died, since she left us at dusk. We all grieved so hard. Mrs. Dawn had always been our favorites, and now she’s gone.
On the brighter side, Abigail got better. She was able to help me tend to the sick. Mrs. Carmi and Ms. York were grieving day and night for Mrs. Dawn. We all did. Right now, though, it was up to me and Abigail to do all the chores. We still managed to complete them, but it wasn’t easy.
Three more children perished. One died from a former infection in her waist back from the first tornado. The other two perished from the same sickness Mrs. Dawn had. Almost all hope was lost. By the time the next month had come and gone, there were only twelve of us left- two teachers and ten children. Mrs. Trinity died while she was delivering her child. She had been pregnant even before all this happened. We had a new child, and no mother for it. It was a baby girl. We named her Amber, in honor of her mother. Amber Trinity II.
By the next month, a whole six more died. There was a poisonous snake on the island somewhere. Two different hunting groups came racing back from the woods with blood gushing from their ankles and legs. They had a bit of a limp. There was absolutely nothing we could do for them. We attempted to get the venom out, but there was way too much in their bodies already. Their hearts stopped before we could even try something else. We had to be careful where we hunted now. We may have to live off the fish in the lake. How we would get there without being bitten was still unclear.
There were only a total of seven people left. Abby, Ms. York, Mrs. Carmi, Jay, Alexandria, myself, and the new baby Amber. It’s sad. Out of the total of 219 people who came to school that fateful day, only six are left. Jay ended up dying from starvation. He said that without his sweetheart Hannah always by his side, there was no point in living. Six. Alexandria died from accidentally burning herself when she was fixing the fish for us. There was a slick spot on the ground and she slipped right into the fire. We tried to pull her out, but when we did, she had too many third degree burns and she died. Five. Mrs. Carmi was bitten by a snake was on her way to fishing duty. Four. This all happened in the period of a month and a week. The forces of nature were plucking us off one by one. It wanted to make sure none were left standing.
By late June-ish (I think, I’ve been counting, but I may be off), there were only a total of four left. Four out of 219 people in the building that tragic day. 216 died. There was only me, Abigail, Mrs. York, and the new baby Amber. Today was my day to go fishing. After what happened to Mrs. Carmi, I didn’t want to go alone.
“Abigail,” I call out, approaching her. “Please go fishing with me. Today’s your day to care for the sick and there are no sick people. You’re not doing anything anyway.”
“No need to overly explain things,” Abby responds. “I would’ve said yes anyway.”
“Thanks,” I say.
“Why do you want someone to go with you?” she asks.
“After what happened to Mrs. Carmi,” I begin.
“Didn’t you hate her?” Abigail reminds me.
“Yea,” I reply. “Now I feel bad about it.”
We started walking to the stream. We talked about little stupid things from back home. When we got to the little lake thing, we caught plenty of fish. Some for over twenty people.
We were on our way back from the lake when I heard hissing.
“What was that?” I ask.
“The snake?” Abigail suggests.
“Run?” I say. She nods in reply.
Well apparently the snake was in front of us. We ran back for camp, and Abigail tripped. What’d she trip over? The snake. I stopped to help her up so we could get away. I was too late, though. The snake bit her. She screamed. Loudly. We must not’ve been far from camp because Ms. York came running.
“What happened?” Ms. York asked.
“No time,” I respond, picking up Abigail. “We have to get some medicine. Grab some straws and oak leaves and raspberries and herbs. Hurry!” I ran Abigail back to camp and started treating her as fast as I could. We were almost out of everything I needed. There wasn’t enough. If Ms. York didn’t get back within the next minute and a half, Abigail was going to die for sure.
By the sound of Abigail’s wails, I knew the venom was spreading fast. Ms. York came running back and began finishing the work on Abigail, but she came thirty seconds too late.
Abby was panting. She wouldn’t last much longer.
“Abby!” I scream, pushing Ms. York out of the way. “You can't leave me! Not alone, not now!”
“I- don’t- think,” she says in between pants. “I don’t think- I’m- gonna- make it.”
“No, don’t say that,” I demand. “You’ll be fine! We just need to get all this venom out!” I began working with all the healing stuff again. “See, you’ll be fine!”
Abigail grabbed my arm. “Give it up,” she says so faintly that I could barely even hear her. “I’m not gonna make it. You and I both- know that.”
“Abby, no,” I began sobbing.
“Just do me a- favor,” she was wheezing now. I was still trying to help her best I could.
“Do the favor yourself when you make it back home,” I say. I don’t know who I was trying to convince that Abigail was going to make it alive- her or myself.
“No,” she shakes her head. “I need you to do this. Tell my mother that I love her. If you ever make it home, tell them that I died with courage and bravery, whether it’s the truth or not. Make them believe it isn’t your fault.”
“But it is my fault,” I whisper in defeat.
“No,” Abby says. “Gabriella, you’re my best friend. Please, just believe me when I say it wasn’t your fault.”
“Ok,” I say.
“Thank you,” she smiled for the last time. Right after that, she died. What was I going to do without Abigail? I couldn’t survive without my best friend.
“It’s all my fault,” I sob.
“How is this your fault?” Ms. York asks. “The snake isn’t your fault. It’s a part of nature.”
“Yeah, but I knew it was there,” I shout. “I was just being selfish. I only wanted her to come with me ‘cause I was afraid the snake would bite me. It bit her instead. I should've just went by myself. This wouldn’t have ever happened if I did.”
“You can’t blame yourself for all of it,” she says. “It isn’t entirely your fault.”
“Then why do I feel so guilty?” I question.
“That's natural,” Ms. York explains. “I can't ration everything, but I can tell you to stop blaming yourself.”
“It’s gonna be hard,” I complain.
“It will be for a while,” she says. “Just remember, it’s not you’re fault.” And with that she left me alone to think.
Thinking ended up being a problem for me. The more I thought about things, the more I blamed myself for Abigail’s death. Now I was just all empty inside without her by me every moment. There was nothing to live for anymore.
The months went by. I was depressed. All three of us (Ms. York, Amber, and I) made it another year. Amber turned one. Nothing happened. The snake died back when Abigail tripped over it. Everything seemed hopeless; as if we were going to be on this island for the rest of our lives.
Then, while I was drawing in the sand, I heard a thunder-y noise. As the noise got closer, it got choppier. It was a helicopter, I realized. It was the first one that passed since we got here. As quickly as we could, Ms. York and I got two sticks and inscribed the words “help us” into the sand as big as we could. Amber could walk now, and she ended us just getting in our way.
After about an hour from when we first spotted the helicopter, the helicopter spotted us. It landed on the “help” in the sand. A ranger emerged from the plane.
“You guys the survivors from Belleville High School in Belleville, Illinois?” he asked. We nodded.
“Not very many of you left,” the ranger noted. “It took us a while, but we finally found you. Looks like we were almost completely too late.”
“You came just in time,” Ms. York responds, picking up Amber.
“Why don’t you all hop aboard and we’ll take you home.” The ranger person gestured towards his copter.
Ms. York was eager to climb aboard, but I stayed behind. She noticed me, still standing on the beach as she sat down. She got off again, leaving Amber in the seat.
“What’s wrong?” she ponders. “I thought you’d be excited to be going home.”
“Well, I am,” I whisper.
“Then what’s wrong?” she sympathizes.
“Well,” I say louder. “It just that, this day was all me and Abby talked about. I just feel weird leaving this island and going back home without her.”
“Aw, you have to get over that,” Ms. York says. “Abby would’ve loved for you to go home, even without her.”
“I know,” I say. “It’s just; Abigail would’ve loved to see this day.”
“Well,” she begins. “Sometimes, we just have to move on. We all have things in our lives that we wish we could celebrate every special moment with. Look, I'm sorry, but you’ve gotta move on.”
“I know,” I start crying. Ms. York hugs me tightly. If it weren’t for all the things we had been through together, this would be weird.
“Come on,” Ms. York says. “Let’s go.”
I got up, and went with her. I was finally going home.