Kathmandu

I found something, I said in an IM to Elynne.

What? She responded later that day.

It’s a place. A place where we can escape, be together, isolated for as long as we want, “Katmandu!”

I hoped she would make the connection. Once, not that long ago, both of us feeling the weight of failed relationships, she asked, How are things between you and Dana? I replied, I don’t know, thinking of running away to Katmandu, oddly enough, Bob Segar was playing in the background. She replied, Take me with you!

I am intrigued, she replied after I went to bed that night.

When is your next trip to Seattle?

Mid-summer, probably July.

Ugh, hate to wait that long. Find a time when we can talk. Just give me a fifteen-minute warning.

Ummm, okay. It will be a few days.

Great!

As I waited for Elynne to find time to video chat, I thought about her, our past, how we got to this point. Hell, she was about the only thing I thought of these days. We were just kids when we met, twelve or thirteen if I recall. She was the absolute image of purity and innocence. I pursued her for months until she finally relented. Or maybe she ran out of boys that were in line ahead of me. Of that fact, I have never been too sure.

Still, after months of courting, she finally agreed to “go with me.” After all these years, still not sure what that meant. What I did know at that time was, she was my girlfriend, and I was not letting her go. And I didn’t, at least not for the next year. Then my parents sold the house, and we moved to California. Elynne was more than willing to keep up our relationship, but I let the distraction of the local fillies break us up.

It took me a couple of bad breakups and a teenage pregnancy to realize, I made the biggest mistake of my life when I broke Elynne’s heart. I married the mother of my child, and Elynne slipped further out of my life. My ill-advised marriage only lasted a couple of years. However, by the time everything was settled, and I considered moving back to Washington, Elynne was moving to Minnesota. Someone named Eric had had stolen her heart.

They eventually married. I got my shit together. I went back to school, earned a degree and a bunch of pilot ratings. For a while, Elynne and I stayed in touch. For her, it was as old friends. For me, it was the one who got away. Until I met my current wife, I clung to the hope that I would one day win her back.

The time and pressures of life eventually drove a wedge between Elynne and me. My wife Dana found it hard to believe we were just friends. To this day she still thinks Elynne was the first girl I slept with. I know she wouldn’t take it well if I told her, “No, she is just my one true love.”

As our kids grew, Dana and I drifted apart, while social media allowed me and Elynne to find each other once again. Over time, we learned that neither one of us was happy. Her husband was a demanding ass, while my wife was the ice princess.

I often wondered, as Dana and I drifted apart if it was because deep down, she knew my heart belonged to someone else.

Through a series of IM exchanges over the course of the next several months, Elynne and I confessed that we never got over the other. That was followed by professions of love. Then admission that neither of us were in a position to leave our spouses. We wanted to be together, but life would not allow it.

Then I made a discovery.

Are you available at 1:00 PM for that call? Elynne sent me a couple days later.

I will make myself available.

Great! Talk to you then. 😊

Elynne’s timing was perfect. I was on layover in Miami. I did not have to find an excuse to disappear. Not that my wife would notice, but better to avoid the potential conflict. My heart sped up a little with excitement when my tablet started to chime with a video call. I snatched it from the top of my layover bag and tapped the answer icon.

Elynne’s beautiful face lit up my screen. Age did nothing to diminish her beauty. Her raven hair hung well past her shoulders. Chocolate colored eyes looked back at me, her smile lines a bit deeper than in our youth. She offered the same diminutive smile I loved then, which quickly broadened at the sight of my old mug. Her dimples still made my heart sing.

“Hey you,” I said, when I knew she could hear me.

“Where are you?” She asked, seeing my background.

“Hotel room, layover in Florida.”

“Tough life.”

“Once I finish with you, its bedtime. I fly out early.”

She smiled at that, “What did you find?”

“Excuse me?”

“Your IM said, ‘I found something,’” she said, reading the IM off her phone. “What did you find?”

“How would you feel about an indefinite period of time together, without it ever being known by the Mr. or the Mrs.?”

She looked at me like I had a horn growing out of the center of my head. For a moment, I was certain I overstepped the bounds of our relationship. A million thoughts flew through my head, my mouth opening and closing like a carp out of water, as I wondered what to say next.

Then her face lit up ever so slightly, “Did you find a wizard?”

I knew her question was both sincere and bit of a jab at my affinity for fantasy and scient fiction.

I smiled broadly at her quip, “Not a wizard exactly, but it is magical.”

Elynne tilted her head to the right, telling me to continue.

“So, over the years, as I have flitted about the sky, I have heard stories. Most of them are just that, stories. One in particular always piqued my interest, only because of the theme and the characters involved.”

“Please share,” she encouraged, her beautiful dark eyes dancing with merriment.

“This is how the story is told. There is an island, far off the coast of Alaska. A mist shrouds it from view where the birds soar. Rocks, like broken teeth, protect the ocean approaches from all points of the compass. Only those who have conquered the sky and can navigate the mist will find this island. It is said, if you get lost in the mist that that you will suffer eight thousand and twenty-five years in Hades. If they survive the journey, they may rediscover their youth and forever be lost in paradise.”

“Sounds like most legends…B.S.”

“Did you just swear?” I asked, knowing Elynne swore maybe once or twice in her life.

“Initials are not swearing. So, do we hunt down Jack Sparrow and find this island?”

“I already did.”

“Oh?”

“When I am home, Dana is as scarce as our happiness. I started working the legend in my head, sans Jack Sparrow. Though, I may have drank as much rum as he trying to figure it out.”

Elynne’s look conveyed amused admonishment.

“Since there is a lot of me time when I am home, I started to think it through. Not because of wishful thinking, but because of all the B.S. stories I heard from captains and first officers over the years, this one kept rising to the top.

“I pulled up Google maps and started looking at the satellite images off the coast of Alaska. There were no clouds of mist, nor did I see any undiscovered islands off the coast of Alaska.”

“How would you know if an island was discovered or not based off of what you see on Google maps?”

She had me with that one.

“Okay, if you zoom in on Google maps, there are never clouds. So, I assumed any island I saw, was discovered.

“But that is not important. I was not finding anything that seemed to fit the bill. Surrounded by rocks, shrouded by mist, six thousand three hundred and twenty-five years in Hades. Even as a big fan of wizards and warlocks, I still have trouble believing in magic. And hell, well you know how I stand on that.”

“Get to the point Sherlock, I don’t have all day.”

“I pulled out a map that showed the latitude and longitudes around Alaska. My thinking was, maybe the number had something to do with latitude and longitude.”

“What is that?”

“Way back in the day, people with no satellites, or computers, created lines that ran east and west, north, and south, to make mapping and sharing navigation data easier. Latitude runs east west; longitude runs north and south.

“Anyway, I started with that. But quickly realized that if I took the latitude and longitude for Juneau, and multiplied it, I came up with a negative number.

“Then I remembered, ‘…in Hades.’ Hades is Greek for hell, and hell is often equated with red.”

I beamed my, oh yeah, smile at her, but Elynne did not bite. She just sort of smirked at me.

“Okay, fine. Red in accounting is negative…right.”

She again smiled that diminutive smile and gave me her affirmative head cock.

“I started working with multiply the latitude and longitude until I came up with a number close to minus six thousand three hundred and twenty-five. After an hour of this, I was starting to rethink my assumptions.

“Then I multiplied fifty-five by negative one fifty-five and came up with a location. It was not shrouded in mist, at least not on Google maps. Nor did it look like an island. More like a bump in the ocean floor.

“I took a standby to Juneau. Once there I rented a twin-engine Beechcraft and hoped for the best.”

“Not much suspense there Will. You’re here, telling me the story. Therefore, I am sure you at the bare minimum survived the trip.”

I so loved her sense of humor.

“I plugged the coordinates into the airplanes GPS and took off. The soup started about fifty miles out from the coordinates and became so thick I could not see the engines just outside my windows. The aircrafts analog gauges started wigging out. Some tumbling so badly I thought I’d be buying a new panel when I got back. I seriously considered turning back. If it weren’t for the steady course indication on my iPad, I probably would have.

“Then, at five miles, I broke out into the clear. It was like God flipped a switch. I dropped to five hundred feet to look at the approach for any boats. It was wicked. Looked like nature grew a bunch of razor-sharp stalagmites to fend off a D-Day invasion.

“When I looked up, it was clear blue and twenty-two. The air was crystal clear all around, but the wall of mist was just as evident as the rock formations protruding from the water. It was eerie.”

“Twilight Zone stuff,” Elynne offered.

“It was!” I took a deep breath, then let it out, “I climbed to a thousand feet and flew over the island looking for a place to land. I As I came around a volcanic peak, its maw steaming into the clear sky, I spotted a narrow runway. A thing of beauty carved into the jungle. Twice as wide as the airplane I was flying, but a little short. As I did a low pass, I could tell it was carved from the lava rock that made up the island. My only concern is it might be too short for the airplane I was flying.

“I orbited it a few times to survey each end and get a feel for the wind. I decided to try it.”

“Oh, the suspense is killing me.”

I laughed, then continued, “The landing was flawless, as usual,” I blew on my fingernails and polished them on my shirt. “I had to back taxi to the wide part of the runway to park the airplane. I spent quite some time exploring that island, and never saw a soul.”

“Maybe you were the first to find it.”

“Who built the runway?”

Elynne shrugged.

“Yeah, me neither. The thing that really surprised me was after a flawless take off, I circled the island a few times. Still no sign of other humans. Perplexed, I pointed the airplane towards Juneau. Once I cleared the mist, I looked at the calendar on my iPad.

“Want to know how many days passed while I was exploring that island?”

“I don’t know how many days you were on the island.”

“Did I forget that part?”

She gave me that adorable shrug and nod.

“The calendar on my iPad when I cleared the mist and my instruments stabilized, showed the passage of two hours. My flight time from Juneau to the mist.”

Elynne gave me a look that told me I was still missing a piece of information.

“Every morning when I got up, I chalked a line on the airplane.”

“Why?”

“Call it a hunch. After watching my instruments spin, while the electronic satellite-based tech worked fine, I thought something might be goofy with magnetic fields, gravity, or whatever.

“When I landed in Juneau and pulled up to the fuel pumps, I took a rag to the chalk lines. There were twenty-three of them.”

“You were on the island for twenty-three days?”

“Yup.”

“It didn’t occur to you that you might be missed, or the airline would fire you for not showing up for work.”

“Actually, I took PTO for this trip, but only a week. But after that week was over, and I still did not find a single soul, I went with the hunch.”

“A lot of hunches here Mr., maybe you should have gone into law enforcement.”

“I was on a mission.”

“Go with me, to the island. We can be together, and no one will need to know.”

I stopped, wondering if I was going too far, then I saw a twinkle in her eyes.

“For as long as we want.” Then, I felt a lump lodge in my throat. I swallowed it down, but it was a dry rock. My heart raced. The possibilities consumed me. I stood up, dropping the iPad to my side, not taking into consideration the vertigo she would suffer. I could not believe how out of control I was.

I remembered she was on the other end of a stream of one and zeros, pulled the iPad back up to my face and said, “I am so sorry.”

“Will, are you all right?”

“I found it hard to let you go, even though I have not had you as mine since we were thirteen. The thought of having you, then letting you go kind of hit me hard.”

“We can’t stay there forever.”

“I know,” I sucked in another deep breath and released it with a sigh. “When do you want to go?”

“What is your plan?”

“When you fly to Seattle, I intercept you. We fly to Juneau, I rent a plane, and we find that island.”

“I like that.”

“Okay, we finalize plans via IM.”

“That works.”

* * * * *

The last time I met Elynne at an airport, you could pass through the security check points without a ticket and meet people at the boarding gate. Those days were long gone, and I was fighting crowds at the baggage claim area of the Sea Tac airport. I did my best to keep an eye out for her, but she found me first.

“Will,” I heard. When I turned, she threw herself into my arms.

God, it felt good to hold her. It had been years. We embraced for a long time, long enough for those around us to take notice. She whispered into my ear, “I so missed you.”

“I missed you too.”

We unraveled from each other, and I reached down and took her hands in mine. As if I were afraid she would slip away from me again.

“You look beautiful as ever.”

Elynne tipped her head down, smiling and looking embarrassed, “Thank you.”

“Seriously, no two-dimensional picture or video can do justice for your three-dimensional beauty.”

“I don’t deserve your too kind words.”

“You do.”

We looked into each other’s eyes for several more seconds. Elynne pulled her hands from mine and slipped a couple of fingers through the hair at my temples, “The gray makes you look distinguished.”

“I like the dirty dishwater blonde better,” I countered.

“I remember your eyes being bluer, it’s like they faded. Still mesmerizing though,” she followed up, while running her thumb along my temple, her hand caressing my cheek.

“You’re making me blush,” I said, reaching up and taking her hand in mine, “We should get your baggage, our flight for Juneau leaves in a half an hour.”

“Right,” she said as if being released from her own trance.

As we went through the process for our luggage and checking into the flight together, our conversation was nonstop. The easy, comfortable conversation of two people who have known each other a long time, but had little chance to stay in touch. For me it was wonderful to actually hear her laugh and see her smile in the flesh. To watch the laugh lines frame her eyes when she did.

“It’s easy being around you,” she said.

“That’s because its only temporary,” I joked as we boarded the plane.

“Oh you,” she said slapping me with more force than I expected on the shoulder.

As a pilot, flying behind other pilots is maddening for me. But the flight from Seattle to Juneau sailed by. We talked about the old days, our kids, jobs, friends, some still in common. The one thing we both avoided were the spouses. We were enjoying each other’s company immensely, and there seemed to be an unspoken agreement that we would not introduce such a dark subject. There also seemed to be an unspoken agreement that any contact remain casual.

Once we landed in Juneau, even the aggravating process of deplaning, fetching luggage, and securing a rideshare to the other airport, was pleasant. I could not help contrasting this experience with the constant bitching I would be hearing if I were with Dana. Privately I admonished myself for comparing the two experiences, but it was something I could not help. Hanging out and going through one of the most aggravating processes in travel was actually pleasurable.

Elynne stood at my shoulder while I signed out the same airplane I took to find the island a few months ago.

“How long will you have the plane Mr. Wilson?”

I looked over at Elynne and she just offered a shrug, as though she didn’t believe what I told her about the island.

“We should be back before sunset. Not a fan of flying in unfamiliar territory in the dark.”

“That is sound logic Mr. Wilson.”

“I have every intention of being an old aviator.”

The clerk nodded, knowing what I was referring to with that statement. As we walked out the plane, Elynne wanted clarification.

“What does that mean, you have every intention of being an old aviator?”

I looked to her as she walked at my left shoulder, “There is a saying in the pilot community. There are old aviators, and there are bold aviators. But there is no such thing as an old bold aviator. Meaning, those who take unnecessary chances usually end up a statistic, and not a good one.”

“Ah,” Elynne said, then went silent. I looked over at her, and I could tell she was mulling the concept over.

“Isn’t flying risky to begin with?”

“It is, but you manage the dangers. Take offs are optional, landings are mandatory.

“For example, flying around mountainous terrain in the dark without spending time with an instructor familiar with that type of flying is a risk I am not willing to take. I fly over oceans all the time, so nothing new there. I checked the first time I rented this airplane, and it is equipped with all the equipment you should have for extended periods over water. I will double check while doing my preflight.

“I like that your careful.”

“It’s gotten me this far.”

Elynne helped me stow the luggage and followed me around the airplane while I did the preflight, asking questions, and carefully listening to my explanations. Then something dawned on me.

“Have you been in a small airplane before?”

Elynne stopped, looked me in the eyes and said, “No.”

“And you are not afraid?”

“No,” she said without hesitation, “you’re my pilot.”

“Ah.”

We climbed aboard, I finished the preflight and gave her a preflight briefing. She offered no questions, so I started the engines, taxied to the runup area, and continued with the pre-takeoff checks. Comfortable that the airplane was ready to fly, I asked the tower for takeoff clearance, which they readily offered.

“A little noisier than the big jets,” Elynne commented as I lined up on the runway and advanced the throttles.

“This isn’t bad with turbo props, but if not for the headsets you would almost go deaf in here with those props screaming just a few feet from your head.”

“Good to know.”

Elynne was quiet all through takeoff, climb out, and cruise over the islands and waterways. Her attention shifting between windshields as she tried to take everything in. It was not until we cleared the last piece of land that she finally said something.

“This is all so beautiful.”

“I thought so too. My last time here was my first. So much of my flying is done around thirty thousand feet I don’t get to appreciate the beauty this continent offers.”

“How high are we now?”

“I leveled off at five thousand. It gives me time to think if something goes wrong. Not that I think it will. That old pilot thing.”

“Ah.”

I smiled. It seemed we had developed a thing between us.

I pointed to the iPad that sat in the center of the panel, “That magenta line is our course. If you look at the ETA in the lower part of the screen, that is our arrival time at the island. We will be in the soup in about an hour.”

“Soup?”

“The mist that hides the island.”

“Ah.”

Again, I smiled.

We continued the easy chatter that seemed ever present when I was with her. That is until we entered the mist.  Then Elynne got really quiet.

“You okay?”

“It’s kind of eerie. How do you know where we are going?” She looked at the instruments, most of them tumbling uselessly in their frames. “That doesn’t look good.”

I pointed to the iPad again. “There is a digital representation of the gauges on that screen. Smaller, but useful enough to know the autopilot is keeping the wings level and maintaining our heading. Once we break through the mist, the instruments will start behaving.”

“Glad you know what you are doing.”

“I wasn’t so sure my first trip.”

As predicted, the mist brightened with penetrating sunlight, then thinned, and eventually slipped to our rear. We broke out into clear blue skies with rock studded ocean below. Waves could be seen breaking on the individual jagged teeth. Where they were tightly packed, the ocean foamed.

“Looks a bit windier today than my last visit.”

“No boats are getting through there.” Then excitedly she pointed and said, “Look!”

I followed her finger and saw what she was pointing at. The wreckage of a ship. It looked old, so I didn’t get too excited.

“We can drop down, take a look.”

“Is it safe?”

“As long as I keep our feet dry…yeah.”

She scolded me with her eyes, then said, “Lets.”

I double checked the instruments to make sure they were once again functioning normally, then pointed the nose at the wrecked ship. It looked as though it struck one of the jagged teeth protruding from the waves, then was swung about, busting its keel on an even larger formation. As we got closer, it became clear it had been there a while. Most of the surface was rust, with just some tarnished gray showing through in places to give us a hint at the ships color.

“It looks like it might have been an exploratory vessel. Too small for passengers, and the deck is all superstructure and rigging. No room for cargo. It has been here a long time.”

“Wonder what happened to the crew?”

I gave Elynne a sorrowful look and said, “Nothing good.”

She fell silent. I orbited the wreckage one more time then pointed the Beechcraft towards the island. We were only minutes away, and Elynne was lost in her own thoughts for the remainder of the flight. As we approached the island she seemed to come out of her funk and was attentively watching me, and our approach to the island.

Once again, I overflew the runway. Though it looked mostly the same, there seemed to be a few peculiar differences. Out of an abundance of caution, I circled it again. All the while, watching for traffic and looking for signs of life near the strip. Satisfied I could land, and more importantly, take off again, I setup my approach.

I cleared the trees by inches on the approach end and touched down right where I intended. Once again, I was forced to spin the aircraft around and back taxi to the other end of the runway where it was wide enough to park without obstructing the runway.

I had Elynne read off the shutdown checklist, which ended with me turning off the power to everything. I pulled off my headset and Elynne followed suit.

“Let’s get out of here.”

“You lead,” she said.

I popped the door, clamored out onto the wing, and jumped off the back. I turned in time to take Elynne’s hand and help her off the aircraft. She jumped to the hard volcanic rock with a spring in her step.

“Must be the clean air, I feel great.”

“I experienced the same thing the last time. Not sure if it’s the air or just something rejuvenating about being so far from the psychosis of civilization.”

Elynne looked around then turned to me, “Where do you refuel?”

“I don’t.”

“Do we have enough to get back?”

“Yes, with reserves. One of the reasons I rented such a big airplane. I was fairly sure once I got here, there would be no gas truck or pumps.”

“Did you think of everything?”

“I don’t know. I guess we will find out.”

I fetched the luggage from the compartments and a tent which I slung across my back. Our luggage consisted of backpacks and duffel bags, just as I suggested to Elynne. I helped her with her backpack and slung her duffel bag across my back along with the tent. On my right shoulder I carried my own backpack.

“Ever been camping before?”

“Um, no.”

“Hope you don’t mind sharing a tent.”

There was a flicker of embarrassment that flashed across Elynne’s features, then a coy smirk curled her splendid lips, “Looking forward to it.”

I could not help but smile.  I wanted to take her in my arms then and now. We were no longer members of the real world. In my mind, all the rules we lived by were left on the other side of the shroud of mist.

“Me too. I hear running water over this way.  I say we head in that direction and setup camp.”

“Lead the way Mr. Wilson.”

I chuckled at her formality, shrugged my burden into a more comfortable position and marched off through some massive ferns on the opposite side of the runway. We didn’t walk far before coming to a clearing. On the opposite side of the clearing was a small waterfall that splashed into a backyard pool size lagoon, which overflowed into a narrow stream. The water was crystal clear and had the smell of unspoiled rain.

“This is beautiful,” Elynne whispered.

“So are you.”

“Will, this is wonderful. You are wonderful. I cannot believe we are here, alone. I cannot believe I am alone with you.”

Elynne dropped her pack and stepped into my arms. I shrugged off my own cargo as she approached. We held each other for a long time, enjoying one another’s warmth. I then pulled away enough to look into Elynne’s eyes. They smoldered with passion and an ache to be loved. I leaned in to kiss her, and at the last second, she turned her head.

I was sure I made a mistake, but when she looked at me, she was chuckling, “Like old times,” she laughed.

Then it dawned on me, she made me wait a long time before allowing me our first kiss. I joined her in her laughter which she smothered with her lips.

The kiss was long, and as I remembered them. The kissing became impassioned, neither of us coming up for air as I lowered her to the soft grass that carpeted the clearing. Soon the kissing gave way to caressing, and caressing lead to undressing, then slow passionate love making next to a waterfall.

When it we were spent, bodies thrumming from mutual pleasure, entwined in each other’s arms Elynne whispered, “I don’t want this to end.”

“It doesn’t have to.”

* * * * *

For three days we explored the island and each other. It was almost like four decades of separation never happened. My vitality was almost as robust as it was in my twenties. We were sure it was the island, but I tried to convince her it was all her. She wasn’t buying it.

On the fourth day, I was starting to lose her. We were still talking, still swimming in the ocean, still making love, but she was becoming more distracted. I would catch her gazing off in the direction of the mainland.

That evening after clearing away our dinner of fresh caught fish and local fruit I forced myself to ask the question I did not want answered.

“Elynne…what’s on your mind?”

She looked at me a long time before saying, “This is spectacular. Being her with you is a dream come true.”

“But.”

“Are you sure time is stopped for the rest of the world? Are you sure no one is missing us back home?”

“To the extent I have experienced…yes.”

“I want to believe you. I do believe you, but…”

“The kids.”

“Yes.”

“And you worried you will actually be gone longer than your trip, or Eric will call your parents and find out you’re not there.”

“You sure do know me Mr. Smarty Pants.”

“I spent two years pining for you when we were kids, then a year as your man, and five years wishing I could get you back. There is some sadness in your heart now, but you are still the same Elynne I have known my whole life.”

“I can’t know for sure until I experience it myself Will.”

“I understand, but if we leave, if we go back, there might not be another chance. You especially may not be able to get away again.”

That prospect cast a deep gloom over her features which made me feel a little better about her feelings for me. Sure, I had her now, but He had her for the last thirty years, and now she wanted to go back.

I let her sort through the thoughts in her head and the feelings within her heart. Watching the conflict play across her tan features.

“One more night, then I have to go back Will. Not because of him, but because I need to know for sure the girls will be okay, and I won’t end up out on the streets if were wrong about the time thing.”

“I would never let you be on the streets.”

“What?! Is Dana going to let me sleep in your guest room?”

That stung and I had no answer. Elynne glared at me, letting her anger show.

“I would figure something out.”

Elynne’s features softened and she said, “Forget about it. One more night. That will put me back in Seattle just as I am about to fly home…”

She stopped, realizing the dilemma we might be in if she is wrong.

“Did you tell your mom you were coming home?”

Her features brightened, “No, because you were stealing me away as soon as I landed.”

“Right, so here is the deal. One more night, like you said. Then we fly out of here first thing. Once we land in Juneau, and you see how long we were gone, you call your mom and say you are flying out. Need to get away. We put you on a plane to Seattle that lands the same time as one from Minnesota, and you meet your mom at the airport.

“That way you get some time with her and fulfil the tale you told Eric.”

“And if you are wrong about the time thing?”

“Then we put you on a plane to Minnesota, and you return to your children on schedule.”

We landed in Juneau four and a half hours after we took off. The amount of time it took to fly out to the island, do some aerial sightseeing and fly back.

“You were right?” Elynne said as we turned away from the rental counter.

“Let’s find you a flight to your mothers.”

“We will be back…I promise.”

“I know.”

* * * * *

I stood at the edge of the cliff, the surf crashing into the rocks one hundred and fifty feet below. The wind tousled and pulled at my shoulder length hair. I sniffed deeply, the smell of saltwater filling my nostrils. Blue skies merged with the oceans blue gray at the horizon. Beyond my near perfect vision was a mist that separated this world from the real world.

After Elynne flew off to spend time with her mother, then back to Him, I returned to the island. I was not ready to go back to the real world. There was something about this place, it not only stood frozen in time, but for me, time seemed to roll backwards. Signs of aging slowly slipped away.

I used my time wisely. Exploring every inch of the island, looking for others. But it was just me.

The peculiar differences I noticed when I arrived here with Elynne, were not just my imagination. The thing was, when I returned a third time, the day after Elynne and I flew out, the first place I went to was the clearing we camped in. All the gear we left behind was gone. In fact, any evidence of our nearly weeklong stay vanished.

As the sun set and I settled in for an evening of contemplation, I came up with a few theories. Time does not stop in the real world. When we penetrate that mist, it plucks us from our spot in time and places us on a version of the island. When we return to the real world, it deposits us in the exact spot in time we left.

While here, on the island, life continues in the real world. Not without us, but with a version of ourselves. It is the only thing that makes sense. How could one little island stop time. The universe is bigger than an overgrown volcano in the northern pacific.

Hell, the weather doesn’t even make sense. It’s always sunny and mid to upper seventies. My theory expanded to the ideal that this island was some portal between dimensions. Four times I visited the island, and each time I believe it was a different version. That is why I never saw any other people. I can’t be the only one to figure out the simple puzzle the legend offers. It also explains why I could not find any evidence of my and Elynne’s stay.

Yes, I said four times. After spending a year here, I returned to the real world. I returned to fetch what was rightfully mine.

“Hey sexy,” Elynne says as she sidles up behind me and wraps her bronze arms around my bare chest.

“Hey back.”

Elynne and I have lost count of how long we have been here. There are no seasons, no phases of the moon, because there is no moon, only day and night. Those get hard to keep track of if you really don’t care. There is a tree not far from the pool that has something like seven hundred hash marks cut into it with my hunting knife. That was when I quit counting.

Elynne looks like she did in her thirties, and she says the same about me. The process has slowed, so our fears of becoming infants have faded with our care for the passage of time.

No matter the time, no matter the occasional trial or tribulation, we work together and never utter a cross word at the other. We are friends, lovers, companions fated to be together. Soulmates. It’s like an escape to paradise.

When we were kids, there was a show called Fantasy Island. Like most seventies shows, it was kind of lame. But this place. This is a true Fantasy Island and I get to share it with the love of my life.

Possibly forever.

“Let’s go snorkeling, maybe we can see some of those small sharks we saw last time.”

“Sounds awesome,” Elynne said, her eyes dancing with love and merriment.

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