Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The Island - Part 8

Amongst the fronds of the tree hung a foot, pigeon-blue. But it was not the hue of death; they were wriggling. The bony ankle and stringy calf gave way to a thigh, gashed open. The expression of pain on the face of the owner of that thigh is something I will never forget. She seemed to be trying to move.

'Don't move, I'll come and help you!'

The sound that came from her mouth belonged to a wild animal, the sobbing that followed and the tears, saliva and mucus dripping from her face onto her ripped clothes, more human. It was clear that she had been far removed from civilisation for some time. Signs of either cleanliness or vanity were absent. What was left of the hair on her head grew in red tufts, the bald patches were scored and raw.

I put my rucksack on the bed.

'Don't move, you're hurt!'

As I prepared myself for the challenge of climbing the trunk in a wetsuit, she had drawn her leg upwards and was trying to curl into a ball. She must have misjudged her footing; I am guessing that she had lost some sensation in her leg and she started to tumble out of the tree. My arms had already been outstretched and in an instant became a rough cradle for her form as we both landed on the bed and rolled onto the ground.

Upon impact, she had gone quiet and we were almost nose-to-nose.

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