Fri, 06/10/2022 - 11:15am

It was a great year for the 2022 Block Island Yacht Club Creative Writing Contest. It is our seventh year and seven students submitted stories, the most to date! The contest is open to students in grades 10 through 12 enrolled in the Block Island School. Contestants are required to use a paragraph given to them in advance in their story. The stories are
read and ranked by three members of the BIYC. These “judges,” who change every year, do not know who wrote the stories nor do they know who the other judges are. The first and second place stories are published in The Block Island Times. The three top contestants also receive a cash prize, $500 for first, $300 for second and $100 for Honorable
Mention. This year’s contestants were: Campbell Coviello, Rory Crawford, Samantha Hester, Amira Veldman-Wilson, Cally Weber, Chloe Weber and Sofia Williams. We appreciate the hard work they put into the writing; they were creative and enjoyable to read. We look forward to next year’s stories!
First Prize went to Sofia Williams for her story “The Noble Taino,” second prize went to Cally Weber for her story “Haunted Island” and Honorable Mention went to Chloe Weber for her story “Storms Wait for No Soul.” Congratulations to these students.

The Noble Taino

By Sofia Williams“

Hurry now Al, we don’t want to be late,” I said as I waited for him to carry my luggage onto the boat. “We’re going to miss you this evening Sarah. Take some mental images so you can describe the beauty of the island to us,” my friend Elizabeth said. My spouse, Al, my friends, and I took a trip to Cabo Rojo from England. It was a four-week sailing journey, but it was worth it. Al and I were told there was an island nearby.
Isla de Mona is a small island 38 nautical miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. There are no inhabitants other than a few biologists, however with permission, people are allowed to camp on the island for limited amounts of time. Mona is challenging to get to, the seas are often rough, there are no ferries and no docks. It does have a small airstrip. After obtaining permission, Al and Sarah decided to sail Icarus, a 23-foot sloop, to Mona. Their idea was to camp overnight, take some night sky photos and head back to Cabo Rojo the following day. They did not realize that a storm was brewing further south in the Caribbean.
Although Al and I were not familiar with the journey and what was in store, he wanted to do something special for me.
“You ready?” Al said as he untied the rope from the dock and we were off. We waved to our friends in the distance as they grew smaller and smaller.
“It’s going to be a three- to four-hour trip. I have heard rumors of the sea being rough, but the weather appears to be good as of now,” Al said.
Al was a pale broad man with black hair that was always half hidden by his thick beret. He wore white stockings, black trousers, a white linen undershirt with long poofy sleeves, a red jerkin on top, and an open red gown with ruffles on the border. Al always dresses to impress, as did I. I was dressed in a dark green and ruby red long dress. It extends out at the end like an open umbrella. On my neck I have a tight thick choker with a red gable hood on top of my long brown wavy hair. We brought more casual clothes to wear on the trip, but because we had just been with friends we were in our usual attire. Al and I both were brought up with wealth and we were used to owning pieces of land throughout England, unnecessarily big homes, and always having free time to socialize as we please. Life was always simple, neither of us ever had to worry about having food, a roof over our heads, or waiting on someone else. I had read little about the island’s ecosystem, particularly plants and animals, but this trip was still out of my comfort zone.
“I know you weren’t particularly excited about this trip Sarah, but I promise you my love, it will be worth it,” Al said.
Three hours had passed. We had left early in the afternoon but night seemed to be approaching quicker. I had just woken from a nap when I realized it wasn’t that night had approached quicker but that a fierce storm had arrived.
“Al!” I exclaimed as a monstrous wave crashed over the boat.
The water was dark, it appeared to be such a deep blue that against the dark skies it appeared black. Ocean foam was spread across the ocean’s top, with waves the height of five men coming from every
“Hold on honey!” Al said as he tried to steer the boat away from the heavy waves. He grabbed the two life jackets we had, and threw one towards me, and closed all the windows and hatches on the boat.
It wasn’t enough, the boat was too small, and Mother Nature was unbothered by our fear. Al and I closed our eyes and prayed. We prayed to feel land beneath us again. My surroundings around me slowly got bigger and clearer.
My immediate thought was “Where is Al?”
I quickly got up, powering through my light-headedness and pain from my lower left leg. It seemed I had been wounded from a piece of the boat, as my dress was ripped on the side and a large gash in my leg was bleeding. I put my hand over my eyes to cover them from the bright sun and did a 90-degree turn until I spotted Al laying on the sand behind a rock. I hobbled over and started to shake Al awake.
“Oh my darling, are you okay?” I said as I embraced Al with every bit of energy I had as I squeezed him tight.
As he slowly sat up and opened his eyes he said, “Yes, I think so. What happened to your leg Sarah? Oh goodness, we need to cover your wound.”
Not hearing the last words Al said, I became overwhelmed by my surroundings. The water in front of me was more blue than any sky I’ve seen in England. Sounds of the waves crashing ashore soothed my ears. For a minute, I forgot about my fears. There were massive rocks surrounding us, in all different shapes and sizes. I tilted my head up more, there were hundreds of trees. They were tall and forest green. I brought my head back down to the sand, trying to let my eyes adjust to the blazing sun, when I saw little marks in the ground.
“Where are you going? Don’t walk when you’re injured! You’re going to hurt yourself more!” Al said as he watched me quickly limp on one leg.
There were imprints of feet in the sand. The size was nowhere near close to the size of Al and my feet, but they were human. Five little toes and the marks led up to behind the rock. I saw two eyes staring at me from behind a rock. After gaining full consciousness, Al turned to my eyes, then the footprints, to my eyes again, then to the two eyes staring back at me.
“Hello?” I said softly as I started to take slow steps towards the rock.
I saw the eyes jerk back.
“It’s okay. I won’t hurt you,” I say. The eyes continued to move backward. My leg started to cramp up and I decided to kneel down.
Slowly I saw a short leg and tiny foot pop out the side of the rock. He walked into sight. It was a young boy, I couldn’t be sure of his age. He was short, with short black hair, and brown olive skin. He was barefooted wearing a loincloth and his eyes stared upon me.
I turned around to look at Al and he was as shocked as myself. I stood still, I didn’t want to scare him. The boy looked at my hands and Al’s hands then stepped further and started walking towards Al. He examined Al, looking from the tip of his head to the bottom of his feet, then he turned to me doing the same, except stopping at the wound on my leg. The little boy walked up onto a nearby rock and he lengthened his tiny arms out as he grabbed a branch of leaves from a tree. He then began to tie the leaves together and then pointed to the water.
Confused on what the boy was doing I said, “Do you have a name sweetie?”
The boy said nothing but continued to point to the water. Getting frustrated he walked over to the water himself, pointing to his leg now, shaking it in the water.
“He’s telling you to do what he’s doing Sarah.” Al said, now standing up.
I walk into the water next to him, and slowly dip my wounded leg into the salt water. I squint my eyes and bite my tongue as the salt stings my wound. He then waves to come back out and starts to wrap the leaves around the wound.
“Do you think he could be a child of one of the biologists that are out here?” I said looking at Al as the boy continued to fix the wrap.
“No, it couldn’t be. He’s…he’s brown,” Al said.
The boy stepped away, then waved for us to follow. Al and I started going back and forth discussing what we were going to do and wondering who this little boy was.
“All of our food and water is gone, the boat is either destroyed or lost at sea. What are we going to do? And who is this little boy, how did he get here?” I said panicking. I couldn’t comprehend the situation let alone there seemed to be a lost little boy in our presence.
“Don’t worry. We know there are biologists here. We will just have to find them before dark and they will be able to help us and take us home,” Al said confidently.
I lost all confidence in his solution when I walked around what seemed to be the last set of rocks on the shore, and I saw miles and miles of bright green trees, soft tan sand, and layers of limestone building up higher and higher.
“We are doomed,” I thought to myself.
Before Al and I could talk any more we lost sight of the boy. We frankly turned around and I spotted him.
“He’s right here!” I said as I pointed and tried to jog over to him.
There was a pile of wooden spears. They were tiny and seemed to be used due to their lack of sharpness. Without a word, the boy picked one up, then pointed back at the pile while looking at us. He stood on a rock, holding his tiny feet tightly together studying the water. He then squinted his eye and threw the spear into the water, puncturing a fish. He picked up the spear and pointed to the water for us to do the same.
Never in my life would I be catching my own meal, but I had no choice. Al went first and it took him about 10 minutes to get his first catch, then it took me about 20 minutes. While I was trying to catch my first, the little boy and Al were building a fire further up on shore. Al was never the type to care for children, he cared mostly about his manliness, his social status, and mainly wealth, but I saw something different inside of him. As the boy and he were putting rocks together for the fire, the boy kicked what seems to be a rubber ball at Al. Al looked confused, the boy did as usual, motioned for Al to copy, and he did. The two started kicking the ball back and forth while the little boy giggled running, and a smile grew on Al’s face.
Before we cooked and ate the fish we caught, the boy took us to an area further towards the trees, where we discovered fresh water and we drank until our thirst was quenched. We ate our fish around the fire. Al and the boy shared their fish, seeing which one tasted the best. Al and I then talked about a plan.
“We know there’s fresh water, we know how to hunt for the fish…sorta. We will spend everyday traveling a little more until we can find the biologists,” Al said.
“I agree. Then we can find out how this young boy got here then take him back to his family,” I said.
As I said that, Al seemed to get a subtle gloomy face. He looked back at the young boy. The boy’s eyes were bright, full of knowledge, curiosity, and gentle warmth.
We all went to bed full, tired, and a little less scared.
We spent long hours walking and weeks of lessons taught by the little one. He taught us how to aim better at the fish by getting a better angle and squinting one eye. I was taught how to create baskets to store all of our utensils. Al was taught how to kick the ball better and higher. Sometimes at sunset, the two would draw a line in the sand and try to keep hitting the ball back and forth without stopping. The boys were growing a strong bond as time passed. The first few nights I quietly cried myself to sleep, missing big meals with friends, my big extravagant dresses, and my expensive chunky jewelry. My big red dress was now a big dirty rag. But as time passed, I missed it all less and less.
The boy taught us how to open a papaya, my new favorite food. We came across the most magnificent animals along the way, mona yellow-shouldered black birds, mona ground iguanas, and my least favorite a mona boas. Some nights after eating our supper, the boy would take us further into the middle of the island into caves. He would lick his finger, drag it through the dirt, then draw on the walls of the caves. Al and I had trouble making out what the boy was drawing except for one night. He seemed to be less energetic than usual, and more distant. Yet he still took us to a nearby cave and started to create his cave art. This time it looked like people, a family together, with a little boy standing in the middle.
“He misses his family,” Al said.
Al took the boy’s left hand, as did I, and we all fell into a deep sleep. The next morning I woke up to rustling in the plants outside. Al and the little boy were still asleep, I quietly got up and peered my head out of the cave. I rushed over behind a big rock to get a better view. There were humans. I immediately thought they were the biologists but as I got a closer look, and realized they weren’t. There were only men, about 12 of them. They seemed to be collecting fruit from the trees. They were short but broad. They had the same brown olive skin as the little boy. Except, they were covered in beautiful designs in white paint with magnificent head pieces. They carried arrows on their back and some held wood spears like the one the little boy gave to us.
Before I could decide what to do one of the men locked eyes with me. I was behind the rock, with just my eyes peering above. I slowly popped my leg out from the rock, the man’s eyes went to my still healing leg and he slowly placed his spear down. Then before I could fully show myself, the little one ran out. He squeezed the broad man like he had just found home again. Al came out slowly behind him and grabbed my hand. We then both walked out showing ourselves to each other. There was a pause of silence until the little boy ran up to Al and gave him a tight hug and ran inside the cave to give him the rubber ball. Al gave the boy a soft smile and a tear fell slowly down his cheek. Then he came to me. I hadn’t noticed but he had grown. He was taller, his hair was longer, and his eyes had more love and gratitude than I had ever seen before. He knelt his head down, and took off his rock necklace. I kneeled on one knee and allowed the little boy to place the necklace around my neck. I gave him a kiss on the head, and a tight squeeze. The man took the little boy by the hand
and gave a soft smile and nod as he turned away. I held Al’s hand as I watched as his now bigger footprints in the soft sand grew further and further away. Three days of almost silence went by between Al and I. We still traveled in hopes of finding the biologist but it felt like a piece of us was missing.
On one sunny day as we were catching our morning fish we saw something out in the distance.
I poked Al on the arm, “ Al! Al! Do you see that?” I exclaimed.
Al walked further into the water and squinted his eyes.
“It’s a boat! It’s a boat!” Al yelled.
I jumped into his arms with relief that we were being saved. I turned around to give the island one last look as the sailboat came closer and I held onto my necklace and whispered, “The noble, the men of good.”