What It Takes To Survive - Chapter 4

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The closer I got to the cave, the shorter my strides got. I tried and failed to reassure myself. I thought for a second that maybe it'd have been better if I was here alone but I quickly pushed that thought away. I wouldn't make it a day here without them. I thought I should be more grateful to them and that they were the experts and if they said this is what I have to do, it probably was. I also thought that I didn't even really look like a girl and that I wasn't even really wearing women's clothes. It was jeans and a tank but only in different cuts. Cuts that accentuated curves better left buried but still.
I decided I was overreacting walked purposefully back to the cave. All that resolve turned to butter when I pushed passed some leaves and saw coach and Doug kneeling next to a fire with gutted fishes on a stick in hand at the cave entrance.
Neither of them wore any shirts and had very dirty jeans rolled up to their knees. I noticed how the small flame reflected off their bare chests and how the sweat trickled down.
Coach had an even more rugged look going on below the cover than above it. He had a very toned and muscular build with a few scars here and there. I realized I hadn't really seen him wear anything other than a track suit or jeans and a button up shirt. Seeing him bare was definitely a first.
Doug wasn't as muscular but definitely wasn't far off. His skin was devoid of any scars or creases but also glistened in the sun from the sweat and was no less impressive.
When Doug sneezed, I realized I'd been staring at them. I started for the cave, Doug looked up, his eyes widened followed by laughter.
"Holy shit..." He managed to say between laughs
I stopped in my tracks.
"Quiet!" I heard coach shout "Not another word, Ripley. I won't warn you again"
Doug immediately held it in but I could see the disbelief in his eyes.
He turned to me and with a kind voice totally uncharacteristic of him, he said to me "Good lad. Now go tell the others they should come get some of this. We'll go have a proper hunt soon and they'll need their strength"
I nodded and basically ran inside.
The others were holding up the clothes from the other two boxes to themselves or trying them on to see how they fit. Ollie was going through the trunk and it almost felt like invasion of privacy.
"Well damn. you're actually do kinda look like a girl" Ollie said.
No one else said anything and just stared and that unnerved me even more.
"What are you doing in there?" I said with a raised voice.
"Here?" Ollie asked although he didn't need an answer "Checking for any loose sweater or something, I don't know. Something that might fit. But seeing how snug that is on you, I doubt it" He closed the trunk
I didn't say anything immediately self conscious about the jeans which were basically skin tight.
"Wait, what do you even care?" He asked
I didn't reply because I didn't have a reply.
"Coach said we should come eat. We're going hunting soon or something like that"
The conversation ended there and I went to put everything in their places with the old clothes bundled up beside the box. It actually felt good to not be touching those nasty clothes anymore.
The others put down everything and left the room. I didn't usually eat all that much but I couldn't understand why I wasn't starving. I went to put the wash and shampoo in the net pouch and was greeted by an image of myself in the mirror.
It felt good to finally be looking like myself again. Even the tank was something I'd probably wear normally wear at home if the straps were wider.
I stood up and looked at my legs. It looked like I had a girl's hips with the way my form collapsed inwards down to my knees. Other than that, I wasn't at all different from what I would normally look like. I guess the surprise must have come from seeing me in this sort of clothing as opposed to the ill fitting jeans and sweatshirts I'd normally wear to school. I decided I had nothing to worry about as I closed the trunk.
I left the cave and was greeted by the guys hurdled around a fire. They turned to look at me but didn't linger. Not even Doug. 'Coach must have given them a talking to' while I was in there.
There was roasted fish on a stick pinned into the soil and a space between Mikey and Ollie. I took the stick I assumed was mine and sat down.
A few bites in, Tate broke the silence
"You think they're still coming to get us, coach?"
"Well they're certainly looking. Finding us is a whole different beast. Since that darn wave, they don't know where we are. We don't know where we are. Our best bet would be a ship passing by"
"We should put together some leaves we can ignite at a moment's notice" Gabe added
"Good thinking, Eldon. Our luck has been pretty good so far. I don't see why we can't expect a ship to sail by"
"Don't jinx us, coach" Ollie laughed. We all joined in.
The conversation continued for another few minutes before coach got up.
"Everybody up." He began "Let's get going. See what we can gather."
"Coach, so I was thinking" Gabe started as he got up to his feet "we might be better served making a strap for smaller animals. We don't always want to spend so much energy hunting."
The rest of us got up to our feet.
"Can you make a trap, Eldon?"
"I should be able to if I find the stuff I need but I might need some help and it might take some time"
"Reid, go with Eldon and see about that trap."
Ollie looked at coach like he'd just said the most absurd thing he'd ever heard.
Ollie and Gabe had gotten into a fight over a girl a couple years back. She had eventually moved but their enmity remained. They had hardly ever spoke since then. I had always thought that was stupid but 'I'd never had a girlfriend so what do I know?' I thought.
"Something the matter, Reid?" coach asked.
"Nothing, coach" Ollie replied.
"Come on, Reid. We got a trap to set" Gabe said not too fondly.
Ollie mumbled something as he left with Gabe.
Coach turned to the rest of us. "Let's go". We grabbed the knife, axe and rod and headed in an unexplored direction.
Coach led the pack very cautiously followed by Tate and then Doug and finally Mikey and I.
"You okay?" he asked a few minutes into the trek but quietly enough not to disturb the expedition.
I chuckled "About which part?"
"No I mean you just look a little flustered. And you're sweating a lot."
I was. I wiped my forehead and brushed my hair away from my face
"It's just hot"
"Maybe put your hair up?" he asked innocently
"Don't say it like that." I said turning to him
"Like how?"
"It's just.. nothing" I didn't want to get into it and I knew he didn't mean anything by it.
"You're really sweating a lot. Could you be coming down with something?"
"I'm fine, Mikey" I was getting frustrated. I hated being treated like this. Like something that needed to be protected. It was nice that he cared but guys generally didn't show this kind of concern. It was always there but since the plane, it's only gotten worse.
"Didn't you find shorts in that trunk? Trousers hardly seem appropriate" I thought back to the very short shorts.
"You're all wearing jeans"
"Yeah but we're not sweating"
I didn't reply.
"You can wear anything in that trunk, Jo. Nobody's laughing" He looked genuinely concerned which only made me angrier.
"Doug's laughing. The others probably are too. Mentally."
"Doug's an idiot. You shouldn't mind him"
"I should, Mikey" I hissed "Look at me" I said gesturing at myself. His eyes lingered "Guys don't wear this stuff!"
"We do what we have to to survive. Like eat horrible fish"
I groaned. He wouldn't get it and I told him as much before walking ahead. I instantly felt like he was looking at my ass.
I slowed down and he caught up to me.
"I'm not going to wear a dress, Mikey. Not ever"
"I'm not saying you should. Wear what you want. Not for us."
We walked in silence for a bit longer before coming up to an open field with tons of deer. We crouched behind some shrubbery.
"What's the play, coach?" Tate asked
"Can't get close enough without startling the entire herd. I'm gonna have to hurl the knife at the closest one"
"Ooh let me get it, coach!" Doug said almost too excitedly "You'll find I have incredible accuracy"
"Okay, Ripley. But that's dinner and we only get one shot at it. Don't miss"
"I won't, coach. Promise" he said smiling as he was handed the knife.
We gave way for him. He held the tip of the blade with his thumb and index fingers. In one swift motion, he tossed it and I winced as I heard the animal cry out. The rest of the herd took off as the deer hit the floor, blood pouring out of it's neck where the blade went straight through
"Nice play, Ripley" Coach exclaimed.
They all hurdled up excitedly around the deer. I took small steps up and immediately turned around as I saw the ground soaked in its blood.
"Queasy, Jo?" Doug asked
"What's the matter, Fahey?" Coach asked
I closed my eyes although I was looking away in an attempt to forget the image.
I heard the animal gurgle.
"I'm sorry, coach. It's the blood. It gets to me" I said without turning around.
I realized that all of them probably had a perfect view of my prominent ass in these jeans but that seemed like the lesser evil now so I didn't move
I half expected disappointment in his voice or at least some joke but I didn't get either.
"Stay over there then while we finish up here"
I'm not sure if it was my head playing tricks but I felt like I could smell the blood.
"I'm gonna go see if I can find any edible plants or fruits nearby"
'Harris, go with him. I was going to say this when you returned from your bath. No one goes anywhere alone. Make sure you're with someone at all times. At least until we know what kind of dangers lurk on this island."
That got me instantly worried. How was I supposed to take baths? Did he expect me to dress and undress around the others?
I felt Mikey touch my shoulder before he said "Let's get going before you vomit"
"I'm not going to vomit"
"Yeah? Your face tells a different story"
We surveyed the area close to the open field but far away enough that we couldn't hear the deer being put out of his misery.
"Do you know what you're looking for?" Mikey asked me when we had been walking for too long.
"Yes" I said smiling just spotting what I was looking for. I knelt before a yellow flower with a green base.
"Not sunflower. Dandelion. The entire yellow part is incredibly nutritious if chewed raw and it can also be boiled for dandelion tea. Those plates and cups we found in that sack will actually find some use"
(Sorry about this. Chapter 3 will be edited. :( I forgot)
"How do you know this stuff?"
"I read. You should try it sometime" I teased "Here,"
I plucked one of the flowers, held the green base and with a slight tug, separated both parts and handed it to him "Try it" I said.
"You sure it's safe?" He asked.
I nodded and gestured for him to go on. He took a bite with his face all scrunched up but that eased. He started chewing.
"I never thought I'd be eating a flower"
"Well we do what we must to survive" I said laughing
He smiled.
"It's actually not too bad"
"A few more of those and that's lunch. Impressive huh?" I asked enthusiastically awaiting an answer
"Yeah, that's something"
I plucked a few more and handed them to him.
"Careful not to squish them"
"What now?" he asked carefully
"We head back. We need to make a rucksack for these trips. Can't carry anymore" I said after I'd filled my arms with dandelions.
"Can you make a rucksack?" He asked me as we began walking.
"Well no, but how hard could we be?"

We got back to the open field to find coach and the others waiting deer in hand and glaring at us as soon as we were sight.
"Well you two certainly took your time" Tate said
"Where the hell were you two?" Doug spat
"Sorry it just took a little time to find these" I said as we caught up to them.
"You better not have wasted our time to go flower picking, Fahey" Coach added
"They're dandelions" I said before proceeding to give them the same description I gave Mikey earlier.
They seemed to calm down.
"You're saying I can get tea in the mornings" Coach asked.
"Well they have to be boiled for some time and it'll be raw tea but yes, coach"
"Raw tea is better than no tea, Fahey. Good play." He said finally and I smiled happy to be back in his good books.
It was obvious I wasn't going to be able to kill my own food but what I could do, I was determined to do it properly.
"There are some edible berries I found back there we should get when we have the time."
"Unless you need the entire tree, Fahey" he said as he lifted the deer "Take someone and come get them. I'm sure you won't have too much trouble finding someone to accompany you."
That struck me as odd but pushed the thought away as we followed the path back home.

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