In the early morning light, Chris hoisted the sail. The heavy canvas gradually unfolding as it climbed the mast. The small sail boat was back lit by the rising sun, rich colors of orange and yellow silhouetted the craft as it rocked in the bay. Waves gently lapped at the side of the boat, the only other sound that could be heard was that of sea gulls gathering as the fishermen unloaded their early morning catch. Occasionally a fisherman would throw a fish to the birds and they would squawk and flap as they enjoyed the hearty breakfast. Chris tied down the line, securing the sail and turned to hoist the smaller directional sail.
The boat was a small one, suited for no more than eight people. It was twenty feet long and fitted with fine sails as well as a backup motor. The boat was old, but in good repair.
Chris looked out to sea, squinting at the sunrise, trying to tell what the waters would be like today. Chris was young, nineteen years. He had black hair trimmed short and a shadow around his jaw, proof he had not taken the time to shave this morning.
"Good wind today." A soft voice remarked from the dock.
Chris turned, surprised that someone had approached with out his notice.
"Yes, a fine day for sailing." Chris replied, recognizing the tall thin woman. She was a mysterious girl, she had long red hair and dark green eyes. Her name was Robyn.
"You've never invited me to sail with you before." She said, sounding a little disappointed.
"No," Chris answered, "I usually sail alone."
The truth was he had always wanted to ask her, but never had the nerve.
She stepped on board the deck.
"Care to make an exception this once?" She asked, eyes softly watching him.
Chris swallowed hard.
"Yeah, of course, I mean... yes, sure."
She stepped on the deck of the ship, shifting her gaze to the vessel. Chris couldn't help but notice how very beautiful the young woman was. She was a head shorter than he, and very delicate looking. She had the appearance of a thin vase you dare not touch for fear you would break it.
"This is a fine ship," She said, running her hand along the railing to where the captain's wheel was, "Is it hard to sail?"
Chris was still staring at her when she turned to him.
"Well?" She coached.
"No. I mean yes- Or, sort of - If you never sailed before it would prove most difficult," Chris stuttered, "But it handles well."
She smiled sensing his embarrassment.
"Do I make you nervous?" She asked, giving a look that said she knew the answer.
He looked away and threw off the bow line, loosing the ship from the dock.
"Just a little." He replied.
But I like it, He thought to himself.
Chris leaned back against the railing at the aft of the ship, breathing in the cool morning air. He glanced over to see Robyn, eyes closed, leaning her head back letting the morning breeze comb her hair. He realized at that moment how little he knew about her.
She was new to the island, she and her mother came in on a merchant ship. They lived in a small hut on the south beach. Her mother was quiet old, She couldn't be much older than her early twenties. They kept mostly to themselves, a trait he admired.
She opened her eyes and caught him staring again.
"That looks like fun." She said, motioning to his hand loosely holding the wheel, "Mind if I try?"
"Sure-" Chris said, "I mean, No- Yes, you can, No I don't mind."
She smiled again.
Chris silently cursed himself for his blubbering. He couldn't seem to complete a sentence around this girl.
Robyn took the wheel.
"Where should we go?" She asked, looking out at the horizon.
"There are some pretty islands just east of ours, they are small and uninhabited, I go there sometimes."
Robyn turned the wheel pointing the craft towards the rising sun.
"Let's go there." She said.
Five minutes later the rocky islands seemed to appear on the horizon. Shrouded in a light mist they seemed to float above the ocean. Trees could just barely be made out on a few of the islands.
There were seven total, they were volcanic islands, small with little wildlife. People rarely traveled to them. Everything on those islands could be obtained easier on the main island.
Robyn had long ago bored of steering the boat. She now leaned over the side rail, fingers dangling, feeling the water skim by.
"I love the ocean." She said, more to herself than to Chris.
"My father says the ocean is Earth's soul." Chris said, looking away.
Robyn looked up, surprised.
"You Chris? A poet?"
"I said that's what my father says," he paused thinking, "I'd say the ocean is a mirror. And when we gaze into it we see what we would like to become. It's so incredible in itself, that it forces us to see more of ourselves."
When Chris looked up again, Robyn was smiling at him.
"So, your father is a poet and you're a philosopher." She said, walking across the boat to stand beside him. She put her hand on his arm. The sensation was hard to explain, it was as if a butterfly had landed on his arm, so light and so soft, and yet terrifying like a snake was around him.
As if she sensed his feelings she pulled away, pointing at one of the islands.
"What island is that?"
"It is called E'ros" Chris answered, collecting himself, "Myth says that no sailor can stop there and leave again. It is an island of such intense beauty that once a person lands they are forever joined with the island, unable to leave. No matter how badly they want to, they are stuck, unable to part with it. Some claim it has magical qualities. Mostly myth, I guess.
"E'ros is Greek for an intense feeling of physical attraction, obsession, even lust. It is the only Island, of the seven, that I've never landed on."
"Sounds exciting." Robyn said, grinning.
"You want to go there?" Chris said, raising an eyebrow.
They were closing on the island, it was quite close now, less than a mile off. It was beautiful indeed! White sand beaches surrounded most of the Island. The tropical breeze carried a sweet smell from the Island.
"Let's circle it once before we land," Robyn said, from the very front of the boat. "I want to see it al-"
Robyn was cut short as the boat lurched forward. She tumbled overboard. The unexpected jerk landed Chris sprawled out on the deck of the boat. He heard splintering wood and a splash.
Chris got to his feet and hurried across the boat, peering downward. Nothing. She was gone, and the boat was being destroyed by underground coral.
"Robyn!" Chris screamed, his voice cracking. He scanned the waters again.
The boat lurched again and Chris tumbled over too. His head struck the side of the hull on the way down, his vision faded into blackness.
Chris opened his eyes, immediately squinting in the bright sunlight.
"Robyn?!?" Chris mumbled to himself.
He sat up quickly, the memories flooding back into his mind. He scanned the horizon looking for her. He looked down, his legs were covered in grains of white sand.
"The beach," Chris said, tilting his head sideways, "How did I get on the beach?"
"A coral reef." A deep voice answered.
Chris looked up quickly.
"Father?" Chris said.
Chris' father smiled broadly.
"Good," he said, "That bump on your head didn't affect your memory."
"But," Chris said, confused, "What are you doing here, on E'ros."
"This is not E'ros," his father answered, "it is Agape'."
Chris, with the help of his father, stood up.
"So I was off course," Chris said, "Maybe it was the wind, I don't know. Somehow I misjudged the island and hit the great coral reef that surrounds Agape'."
"Women have a way of making the most seasoned sailor misjudge." his father said, still smiling.
"How can you be happy," Chris asked, "I wrecked a valuable vessel."
"Son," Chris' dad said, "The day I met your mother I watched a hundred foot merchant ship sink below the waves, the crew and I paddled away on a life boat."
Chris bent double laughing, and gave his father a hug.
"Dad," he said, "Where is she?"
"Who, your mother?"
"No." Chris said, "Robyn."
"Oh!" He said, acting surprised, "She's on my boat, sleeping, she was quite tired from the swim. Swimming and dragging you to the island wore her out."
"She saved my life." Chris said, looking out to sea as the incoming waves crested and crashed.
"You can thank her when she wakes." Chris' father said, leading his son to the boat.
The Island, Agape', slowly disappeared on the horizon as Chris' father sailed the boat home. Chris sat in the back of the boat, legs crossed, staring down at Robyn as she slept. And as he watched her peaceful sleep, he couldn't help but think. How - Though he had never landed on E'ros - in a way he had, and he knew he could never leave. Even if he wanted to.