Chapter 31:

030 ┃ Dawn's Confession

The Isle of the Forgotten

When Dawn returned home, the sun had almost set. Spud was waiting for her on the porch with a frown.

"Why are you so late? If the roles were reversed, you'd have already given me an earful," scolded Spud.

"I know...sorry," the girl apologized with a half-smile.

Spud wanted to continue scolding her because he was usually the one receiving reprimands, but seeing his friend smile melted his resolve.

"It's alright. I've already boarded up all the windows. Didn't you catch anything?" he asked as they entered the house together. Once inside, Spud locked the door with a deadbolt and blocked it with wooden planks.

"No," was all she replied. She seemed to want to say more but fell silent.

"Don't worry, I'll go with you tomorrow, and I'm sure we'll catch something," Spud promised with a smile.

Dawn returned the smile but said nothing.

"By the way, I've been looking into that pamphlet. I haven't figured it all out yet, but I think I have a general idea of what it's about," the boy explained.

"Oh," was all Dawn said as she left her bow and arrows at the entrance.

Spud quickly noticed that something was amiss in the atmosphere. Maybe Dawn wasn't angry with him, since she had just smiled, but there was something she wasn't telling him.

"Do you want me to explain it while we eat?" he offered, hoping his companion would agree.

"I'm sorry, I'm a bit tired. Goodnight," she replied with a nervous tone, then ascended the stairs and disappeared from Spud's view.

"Goodnight," Spud managed to say, confused.

He lay in bed with his hands crossed over his chest. It was evident that something was bothering Dawn, and he didn't know what it was. He couldn't shake the feeling that she might be upset about something that had happened. Should he apologize to her? He could, but he'd at least like to know what he had done.

Either way, he couldn't let things continue like this. If he did nothing, she might stop talking to him, or even worse. He had to ask her.

He sat up suddenly and headed for the door. Just as he was about to open it, his companion knocked twice from outside.

"Spud? Can we talk?" asked Dawn.

The boy was startled by the surprise.

"Yes, come in," he said, suddenly feeling nervous. "Funny, I was just coming to talk to you."

"Oh, were you?" asked Dawn. Despite her timid tone, she now looked directly into his eyes, making Spud's heart race.

Dawn entered the room. Both stood facing each other, separated by less than a meter.

"Yes. Since this morning, you've seemed off, and I wanted to ask if you were mad at me," Spud explained as he paced around the room to break the tension that hung in the air.

"Mad?" The girl chuckled a little. "I guess it seemed that way from the outside. Don't worry, I'm not mad. I just needed some time to think alone."

"Oh, thank goodness," Spud responded.

Suddenly, Dawn took a step toward him, causing him to shiver.

"You know? When I arrived on this island, I used to cry a lot. So many times that it's embarrassing to admit. I cried because I was sad, or I felt alone, or because I was cold... anything," the girl explained, looking at the floor as she spoke. "But one day I realized that crying wouldn't help me at all, so I decided to stop. If I wanted to survive on this island, emotions were nothing more than a burden that I had to get rid of. So that's what I did. I stopped getting sad or happy about things that happened and just focused on surviving."

Dawn smiled faintly.

"And I became quite good at it. I learned to hunt, fish, and defend myself. I stopped going hungry and cold. But even though I was good at surviving, I was only doing it by inertia. Because I thought I had to. But then I started wondering why I was trying so hard. In the end, I was still alone, and I thought I would always be. I... many times, I considered ending it all. Even the day I rescued you, I was wondering if it wouldn't be easier to become just another skeleton in the village."

Spud felt a chill hearing this. He had always imagined that Dawn had a tough time during the year she was alone, but he had not imagined it was this bad.

"But when you came, everything changed," Dawn looked at him with a warm smile that made him blush. "Suddenly, I was no longer alone, and I had to learn to communicate again. At first, it was harder than I thought. I believed you were a bad person, and all I could do was insult you and give you mean looks. But you brought Lion, and then I realized I could trust you. You gave me a name and taught me that I wasn't alone. The time I've spent with you has been the happiest month of my life, and I'm sure that if I still had my memories, I would still think the same."

Dawn took a step towards Spud, who felt his entire body burning.

"Today, I was absent because I needed some clarity. But I’m sure now," Dawn sighed and looked at him determinedly. She continued advancing, causing him to fall backward onto the bed. Instead of stopping, the girl climbed onto the bed and on top of him. "I've fallen in love with you."

Spud felt his head spinning. Dawn's lips were so close to his that all he had to do was lean forward a little to kiss her.

"D...Dawn, if this is one of your jokes, you better stop now," the boy warned, his mind racing.

Dawn moved even closer to him.

"It's not a joke anymore," she whispered before kissing him.

A. Hoshino