It was time for a change.
The knife gleamed in his hand, the scorching sun sparkling off the stainless blade. It was time.
Life was impossible without death—death of the only other living creature on this forsaken island. Hunger threatened to wrap his bony fingers around him in deadly starvation. If he would not kill his only friend, he would be killed by it.
It was a dog. A skeleton of a dog, once plump and healthy, now nothing but a shadow of good times past. Like himself. A boy in rags, a forgotten specimen of the human race.
The sun rose higher and higher, hotter and hotter above the lonely islet in the middle of the wide, wide ocean. His eyes rolled uncontrollably, his bony hands clenched in fists. “Water…” he croaked at the innumerable gallons of undrinkable liquid surrounding the thin strip of sand he and Wolf had drifted onto thirty hazy, torturous days ago.
Death of another was the only way out of inescapable oblivion of himself in the midst of the man-forsaken sea. With a full stomach, he would be able to swim away, build a fire, anything to keep himself from falling into the dark abyss awaiting him. Never to see the light of day again. But it would mean the death of his one earthly friend, the dog who had pulled him to shore when he had fainted from weariness in the merciless sea, who’d given him help when he needed it, who’d had given his last breath for him if he’d had the chance. The only light pulling him onward, always onward. Like a beacon guiding him to life, away from death, to any and all hope of survival.
He whistled. The old dog, ever faithful, trotted toward him, the dark tongue hanging from the parched canine lips. The time had come. Wolf stood in front of him, his brown eyes looking up at him. Eyes full of trust, loyalty, and endurance—love. He could not kill him. But he must. There was no other way. He stepped closer and raised the knife.
White gulls circled slowly above him, their shrill shrieks silenced, as if waiting patiently for the meat that was sure to come. He knew he would have to fight the airborne predators off if wolf died. If.
Only the soft lapping of the salty waves broke the silence.
His hands shook despite of himself. He gritted his teeth. What is wrong with me? He wanted to live—to love and be loved again. This was the only way to life he could see… or was it?
He glanced at the tangled masses of brown fur on the dog’s back, gently blown here and there by the slow, suffocating wind. There was nothing else for him except this—or death.
He stared into the deep eyes of the canine one last time. Time slowed down. He lowered the knife closer and closer to the trusting brown head. Then, something in him broke loose, and he dropped his knife, the sharp blade thudding onto the dry sand. “I cannot do this.” Unbidden tears welled up in his eyes-eyes that had grown too hard in the short seventeen years of his life. He knelt down on the scorching sand, unmindful of the heat cooking his bare legs. “Wolf—“ he threw his thin arms around the dog, burying his face in the warm fur. “I cannot kill you to save myself. We will die together- if die we must.”
Then, with a hand on the head of the panting dog beside him, Jordan Thomson stood up and faced the open sea.
Far away, out of his sight, a ship sailed closer. And closer. And closer.
There are second chances. Sometimes.
If you take the chance to change.
If and when the time comes.