"Well" I began "I don't think I'm needed here so I'll just be in the cave" I said trying to get away from that scene of the guys gutting the dead animal.
The cave was dark but a refreshing solace from the heat of the outside world. It seemed the day had only gotten hotter the more it progressed. I thought about going to take a swim but I thought it would seem like I wasn't pulling my weight.
I found it odd that the guys weren't having or at least didn't seem to be having any problems with the heat. Maybe if I spent more time outdoors, this whole stranded thing would have been easier.
I scanned the room. It was largely empty apart from the large trunk, the two boxes and the now rolled up sack...
I slapped my forehead harder than I intended. 'If i washed the sack, I could use it to go fruit or plant gathering.
I looked at the trunk. The entire thing looked plated and must have cost a fortune. I thought briefly about the owner and hoped she was okay.
I walked up to the trunk and opened it this time ignoring my reflection. I ran my fingers through it looking for the lighter materials. The pair of jean trousers and cotton top wasn't doing me any favors.
The good thing is that whoever she was had packed for summer but it seemed like everything that demarcated both legs wasn't meant to be worn outdoors. Even her jean shorts seemed like underwear when I held it up.
I pulled out a white puffy lace camiflage I'd seen my sister wear before. It would certainly help with my heat problem but I wasn't sure I could pull that off. I decided I would stop speculating and try on the damn things. As I took off the tank, I felt stupid that I'd been deliberately putting myself through hell because I was afraid what a few guys would say.
I slipped it over my head and it sat perfectly on my torso stopping just on my navel. It was cool on my skin and it sent shivers through my body.
I looked to the tank on the floor and my clothes in the corner and made a mental note to wash them as soon as I was done here. I didn't have that many clothes that could pass for male clothes and I'd have to take care of them.
I tugged at the jeans trying to take them off but they proved to be even harder coming off than on. Eventually I got them past my knees and pulled them off. I stood there in a girl's panties and wondered how things got so messed up. It was almost more embarrassing that all her clothes fit me so well. All my inhibitions about wearing her clothes seemed to be fading away as I looked at a black skirt near a corner of the trunk.
'Nobody would hold this against me' I thought.
'Well maybe Doug but he's an idiot'
I put a hand on my waist and my index fingernail of the other hand in my mouth subconsciously.
'Mikey said he'd wear these stuff if he could and Ollie was even looking through it'
I took the skirt. It felt like polyester. Very smooth and cool to the touch.
I put a foot through it followed by the other. I sighed inaudibly as I pulled it up. I zipped it up, clasped the hook and spun it around like I'd seen my sister do so many times. I'd watched her get dressed and do her make up so many times. Every holiday, the extended family would gather at our house or we'd go gather at a relative's house. Each time we'd have to share a room. She was three years older than me but there was a time we were close. Close enough that she'd tell me things that she'd normally only talk about with her friends. Sometimes about a boy she liked or how I should be glad I didn't get periods. I'd subconsciously study her but that's as far as it went.
Two years ago, she moved to a dorm room in college and when the relatives showed up, I'd have to move to her room because my mostly empty room was easier to clear out but I never once thought I'd be going through the motions like I'd seen her do.
The skirt was a fairly short one and came up only to my mid-thigh. Looking over my shoulder, it still didn't do my ass any favors, or did depending on who you asked. It followed my waist tightly until it got to the top of my butt and flared out.
I was glad for the first time ever for my lack of prominent body hair because I know it would look horrendous right now. What was horrendous however was my blonde hair. I didn't know what to do with it so I put it into a ponytail and left it.
I closed the trunk, picked up my old clothes, the tank and jeans and left the cave. Coach and the others were in the process of forcing a stick into the mouth of the dead animal. Poor thing. They must have sensed me come out somehow because they turn to look at me. I immediately felt very self conscious standing there in a skirt and what can only be described as half a top. I brought up the clothes I previously rested between my right hand and right thigh up to my abdomen and held them with both hands.
They didn't say anything. Not even Doug. Mikey smiled which I'm not sure did anything to calm me.
"The heat got too much" I said. They didn't reply.
"I'm going to go see if I can do anything about these" I followed up gesturing at the clothes.
I turned and began walking towards the lake. I wished the ground would swallow me as the skirt started swishing about. I walked faster trying to get out of sight which only made the skirt swish more.
I slowed down when I got out of sight and my heart eventually returned to its regular pace.
I suddenly heard leaves rustling behind me and turned sharply. I turned sharply panicked but calmed down when I realized it was a person.
"Mikey" I said taking a breath before continuing "You scared me".
"My bad" he replied smiling as he caught up to me. "Coach said I should accompany you"
I nodded remembering what he said.
"I hope I didn't pull you away from anything" I said as we started walking together.
"Oh no. I'd had enough of animal anatomy one-oh-one" He smiled "Thanks by the way. I'm surprised coach let's you sit it out so easily. If I ask, he'll probably give me a speech and tell me not to be a wuss"
"Probably." I paused thinking for a second "He's probably sorry I have to wear this stuff"
"Maybe" He said looking at the skirt
"I'm gonna milk it" I said laughing
"I'd be surprised if you didn't" he was smiling a lot. "It's does suit you, Jo"
I moved the clothes to one hand and punched him in the shoulder with the other
"What?" He laughed "It's does"
"No guy wants to hear how a camiflage suits him!" I yelled but still laughing
"A what?" he was laughing too
"A camiflage. It's like a camisole but without the bulk"
"So like that thing your sister wore into your room that one time?"
My sister always barged into my room at all times for various reasons. Sometimes to ask me to choose between two very similar outfits. One time Mikey was in there when she barged in with her underwear.
"No. That was a bralette. This is different."
He looked at me with a face as if asking me to explain myself.
"That replaces a bra. This is worn over a bra" I said gesturing at myself
"How do you even know that?"
"My sister. She thought I needed to know the difference apparently"
"Ah Gaby. Of course. How is she anyway?" He thought about that for a second "well as of the last time you talked"
"She's okay, I guess."
"You know you kinda look alike."
I gave him the same look asking him to explain himself
"That's a weird thing to say, don't you think?"
"Why?" he asked
"Well for one you always talked about how hot she was and how you were in love with her. It was kinda hopeless actually."
He laughed "Give me a break. I was fourteen"
"Yeah because two years later, you're not even the same person"
"Exactly!" he shouted
I shook my head, still smiling.
We got to the lake and in the water were Ollie and Gabe.
I stopped either from shock or fear but I was just staring at them in the water.
"There you guys are" Mikey said walking ahead "We thought you had been eaten by something when we came back and didn't see you at the cave"
They waved as the got out the water. They were naked. I still hadn't moved. I glanced at their junk and instantly hated myself for doing so. It was the first time I'd ever seen 'it' since gym/practice was always last period/after school and I always went home to shower.
'They wouldn't have as easy a time wearing panties as I did, that's for sure' I thought.
"Yeah we finished early and decided to come take a bath" Ollie said smiling as he put on a new pair of briefs. Ben's briefs.
"Are you okay?" Gabe said to me as he did the same. I still hadn't moved and was still a few steps back.
I blinked and caught up "Yeah. Why wouldn't I be?"
He picked up a t-shirt from the floor and tossed another to Ollie and the conversation moved on. To me.
"Did you always look like this?" Ollie asked looking at me.
I didn't know what to say. I knew the answer. I've always looked like this but was that really the right answer?
"Ollie" Mikey said threateningly
"Yeah" Gabe chimed "If he changes his mind, he's taking your clothes."
They had put on the shirts and were on to the trousers now.
"So no one finds it odd that those clothes suit him so well?" Ollie asked.
When all he got was disapproving stares, he said "Fine then. I'll drop it. Let's get back, Eldon"
Gabe nodded. They went back to pick up the dirty clothes
"You two seem chummy. " Mikey said "What changed?"
They grabbed the clothes and came back to us
"Well if being stranded on an island doesn't make you reevaluate things, then nothing will" Gabe said
"So you two are friends again?" I asked surprised
"Well I wouldn't go that far, beautiful" Ollie said
I glared at him.
"Me neither" Gabe added.
Mikey and Gabe seemed to miss what Ollie said or at least ignore it so I did too.
"I could take those" I said gesturing at the dirty clothes "I'm here to wash mine so I don't see why not"
Ollie and Gabe looked at each other before handing Mikey the clothes in one big pile.
They walked away and soon were swallowed up by the leaves and out of sight
"Why'd you do that?" Mikey asked
"What do you mean? Everyone has to help out and I don't think I'll be hunting or trapping animals anytime soon."
"I don't have any special skills. You don't see me offering to wash their underwear. Mikey, it's not a big deal. And you, you're strong. You can help by carrying stuff about. I just don't want to be useless"
"You're not useless. You know all this stuff about plants and fruits."
I didn't reply.
"It's just not fair for them to make you wash their stuff"
"They didn't make me. I offered. Just give them here if it's such a problem" I said frowning
He sighed. "It's not"
I was still frowning.
"Really. I just don't want anyone taking advantage of you"
"No one is going to take advantage of me" I said calming down
"Okay then. Let's go, I'll help" he said clearly trying to defuse the situation.
I looked at him for a second "come on then"
True to his word, he helped me washed the clothes which we did mostly in silence. We spread them on some nearby trees and went back to camp. The day had dragged a bit.
Sometime after dark, coach announced that he was done roasting the duck. We had a nice time at 'dinner' talking about what we'd do when we got off this rock as we ate roasted deer. It wasn't at all tasty but it was edible and no one was in any state to complain with our stomachs rumbling.
Coach had cut the deer into pieces and stuffed it into an empty pot. I felt bad at first seeing the animal like that but like Mikey had said "we do what we have to to survive"
Gabe had boiled the water that was fetched earlier and had promised that it was safe to drink.
We took the deer in one pot and had gone out to the beach and sat in a circle. I took great care as I sat on the sand keeping my legs closed so as to keep myself from giving the boys a show. I first knelt down on the cool sand and then sat with my leg pressed together to one side. I'd have to deal with the sand later but lesser evils right?
I'm not sure if no one saw anything wrong with how I was sitting or just chose to ignore it but no one said anything and interacted with me rather normally.
"I'm gonna sue that airline so hard" Doug said
"Knowing your dad, that's already done" Gabe said laughing
"I'm going parachuting for sure" Ollie added
"So let me get this straight" I began taking all the attention "After almost dying, you're going to actively try to get yourself killed?"
He made a face "What are you going to do then, miss smarty pants?"
Everyone made disapproving grunts except Doug who laughed.
"Punch you in the face if you keep that up" I said. Everyone laughed. "I for one am not getting in the air anytime soon"
I got some nods.
"I'm gonna take a year off but I'm definitely going to college" Mikey said
"Lame!" Ollie yelled
"Not everyone is a wild child like you, Ollie" I said smiling "What are you going to do, Tate?" I tried to bring the conversation to him who hadn't said anything the entire time.
He looked like he had been caught off guard.
"Um.." He began " I.. I don't know" No one could really get Tate to say or do anything except coach. Other than play football, he never really did anything.
"Oh it's okay" I said hoping I hadn't done something I should "What about you, Gabe?"
Gabe began to answer but he was interrupted by Tate.
"I'm gonna finally visit my dad in prison"
The place was quiet. I noticed coach who was away from us listening now.
He looked sad and I don't know why but I touched his knee.
"Cops took him almost a year ago now and..." his voice broke. I rubbed his knee. "Mum couldn't take it and she..."
I saw a tear roll down his cheek before he got up sharply and walked away from the group.
I moved to get up but coach said "Leave him be" I sat back down "He needs it"
We sat in silence for a bit and that's when we saw it.
In the distance, a bright red light in the sky followed by a red trail. It was far away but it was unmistakable.
"A flare" Coach said as we all stood up.
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