Dale looked out over the turquoise blue waters of the southern Pacific Ocean and wondered how many people back home in the snow and cold infested state of Maine would trade places with him right now. He bet it would be almost the whole state, until they realized that they were stranded on a small patch of paradise. Dale wandered back into the surf and out to the remains of his boat. He grabbed a few more cans of food and moved back to the beach. The tide was coming in and Dale didn’t know how many more times he would be able to make the run before the boat finished tearing itself apart on the volcanic rock.
The sun was setting, painting the horizon a riot of reds fading to purples. This was the fourth such spectacle, and Dale loved each one. He put the cans under the coconut tree with the other eight weeks or so of provisions. Good thing he was early on this leg of his journey to sail around the world solo. What would have happened if he had gone through most of his provisions? Of course, if he didn’t flag down a passing ship it really wouldn’t matter if he died of exposure or starvation this week or eight weeks from now.
Dale took a deep drink from the fresh water spring that fed a tiny stream. The water tasted heavily of sulfur, but when the tropical sun beats down on you for twelve hours, every bit of moisture helps. He spent the rest of his waning light gathering up junk and debris that washed up on his little private beach. It was amazing that the human footprint on the environment followed him even here latterly in the middle of nowhere.
As the sun gave way to a moonless night, Dale looked up at the starry night, amazed that there was so much up there. It made him feel even smaller than he did being the only human on a tiny patch of sand. While it was amazing, he thought back to those snows in Maine and the life he had left there. What he wouldn’t give to trade places with someone in all that snow and cold. Instead he shivered in loneliness and tried to fall asleep. Being in paradise was not without its cost.