Chapter 6:

006 ┃ Under the flowers

The Isle of the Forgotten

The boy reached out to pick the blackberry, but a thorn pricked his finger. Unleashing a string of curses, he brought the wound to his mouth. "Stupid brambles."

All he had intended was just to find a solution. Sure, his circumstances were not the brightest, and there weren't many chances of being rescued, but that didn't mean they had to give up. What was he supposed to do? Eat worms and stones until one of those night stalkers deigned to kill them?

It had been quite a challenge for him to accept that he had mysteriously appeared on that island with his companion. It's not something that's easy to digest, you know? Especially when a repulsive night stalker had almost minced you.

Not only had he accepted it, but he had also considered very real and very feasible possibilities to explain what had happened in the village. The war option? Come on, that was pretty good. Now that he remembered it, he should write a list so he wouldn't forget. He would do it when he got back to the house.

He had also tried to learn some of the language, and he only got a disapproving look. So what if he hadn't understood anything? The plant drawings were very detailed, surely one day it would be useful if he had to draw a plant.

And what had she done? Try to get food so they wouldn't starve to death on that deserted island?

Well, okay, maybe the fault was his there. But that didn't mean he was going to stop trying to find answers.

When he got tired of pricking his hands on the brambles, he continued walking around the cabin. In a small clearing among the trees, a group of white flowers danced with the wind. If he liked flowers, or the forest, or nature, he would think it was a pretty sight. But unfortunately for him, flowers weren't edible.

He kept walking in search of more berry bushes, but a hunch made him turn his head to look at the flowers again. They were small and white, no larger than his thumb, and had a shape that reminded him of a star. From the center came a prominent yellow pistil, so large that it made the flower look somewhat disproportionate and even a little comical. Hadn't he seen that somewhere?

After thinking for a few seconds, he ran back to the cabin. On a stool on the porch lay the book he had been carrying the night before. He had left it there because it was too annoying to collect berries, but he didn't think he would consult it so soon.

He quickly turned the pages, making sure not to tear them. It should be at the beginning... He didn't take long to find it, and a smile came over his face. In front of him was an exact drawing of the flower he had just seen, so detailed that it looked like a photo. The star-shaped petals, the large pistil in the center... It was identical.

But there was something else in the drawing, the real reason he was smiling. Underneath the stem, underground, there were drawn half a dozen large, deformed roots. Even if he didn't remember where he came from or who he was, it was impossible to forget roots like those.

He closed the book and ran back to the small field of flowers. He rolled up his jacket sleeve and gripped the plant's stem firmly. He pulled hard, and the earth beneath the plant began to give way little by little. With one final tug, he uprooted the plant and fell on his butt, still holding the plant in his hands.

He studied the roots of the plant, and there they were. Golden and succulent potatoes. Although they were no larger than a walnut, the boy didn't care. They were beautiful.

The girl had told him that morning that their diet consisted exclusively of animals she hunted and wild berries, so this was undoubtedly a significant discovery. With a smirk of arrogance, he began to pull up the plants one by one.

The boy was resting on the porch with his legs stretched out and a handful of various berries in his hand. Next to him was the sack that his savior had given him a while ago, except now it was brimming with potatoes and partially open, like a trophy on display. He had been there for half an hour and was freezing from the wind, but he finally saw her coming in the distance.

She didn't bring a deer, but hanging on her belt was a beautiful pheasant that made the boy's mouth water just thinking about it cooked.

The girl walked past him without barely glancing at him.

"The black ones are toxic. If you eat many, you'll get diarrhea," she explained as she walked towards the entrance. The boy broke his false posture of confidence and spit out the berries he had in his mouth.

"How was I supposed to know that?" he complained disgustedly as he tried to clean his tongue with his hands.

The girl ignored him and approached the entrance, but the large sack next to the bench quickly caught her attention. She approached and picked up a potato, checking with admiration the boy's discovery.

"How did you find this?" she asked, impressed. The boy spat out one last time and turned to the girl, regaining his false confidence. He hoped that with this he would finally earn the girl's respect.

"The book I was studying last night had a ton of drawings of flowers, and I remembered when I saw them in the forest. Now you can eat something else besides meat and berries," he proudly stated, although his attitude changed in an instant when he remembered the girl's anger a few hours ago. "By the way, I really am sorry about earlier."

After a few moments of silence in which the girl glanced at him, she finally got up and picked up the sack of potatoes.

"Good job," she simply said in a cold tone, although for the boy it was a great relief to hear those words. They wouldn't be best friends in the world, but at least he had managed to make amends for his mistake.

"There were many more plants in the book, you know? I know I got lucky this time, but if I manage to learn the language, maybe we can grow our own food and..." the boy began to fantasize.

"Are you still on about that?" she interrupted, causing him to fall silent. She remained silent for a few moments as if considering whether to speak or not. "Alright. If you promise to stop annoying me with that, I'll take you somewhere you'll like," she offered, although regret was immediately visible on her face.

"Huh? Really?" the boy asked, excited like a child.

"Yes... But we'll go after we eat. Now start the fire while I prepare the pheasant," she ordered in an imperative tone.

The boy followed her into the house, practically jumping for joy.

"Sure..." he nodded, smiling. It seemed that things were finally starting to go well between them. "Umm... how do you start a fire?"

"Argh... really?"

A. Hoshino