“You will not amount to something!”

His father’s acidic remark kept him less assured of himself. He was a sole child but it seemed the old man always sounded regretful for having him in the first place. Display of love and affection was scant and even grudgingly shown if ever.

“What are you thinking?” Tom asked, noticing the gloom on his classmate’s face.

“Nothing,” Harry tried his best to appear normal. “I just remember my father.”

Tom knew Harry’s history with the old man. One time, he was present when his father berated him. He painfully felt the shame that Harry had to endure at that instant.

“Follow Tom’s example. He’s excellent in school while you waste your time with extracurricular activities.”

“Hey! Cheer up! This is our vacation! No moping allowed.”

The four-hour ride in a a convoy of rented vans went by unnoticed, the scenic route grabbed their collective attention, expectations higher as they neared the first part of their journey.

Along with their teachers, the group was destined to a small island. It was a bonus treat they received from the school board for representing the model class in a recent competition. The recognition helped the school gained more sponsors for future events.

All was well except when the boat that ferried them had engine trouble. Luckily, they were near the coast so they elected to wade through the shallow waters. The small delay did not dampen their group’s day-long celebration.

“This is vacation!” Harry shouted, the liberation in his voice total. “I want to stay here for good!”

“Hahaha! You’ll miss city life!” Tom was nearly convinced Harry meant every word he said. His classmate probably needed the permanent escape from his present life.

“No electricity. No internet. No worries. I’ll just fish the whole day!”

“Can’t blame you for thinking that way,” Tom remarked with less enthusiasm. Harry conveyed his frustrations without sounding frustrated.

Half a day of immeasurable fun expired when it was time to head back home. The common conversation revolved around a repeat visit, a much longer one.

On the way back, disaster struck. The engine that was hastily repaired conked out, rendering it useless, a dead weight. The operator looked distraught, his two-way radio hissed with noise, transmission and reception were next to impossible.

The forty-foot locally manufactured boat, listing in the middle of the deep sea, tried to remain level. Still, a huge wave was all that was needed to capsize it.

All passengers could not hide their fright, on their faces were etched the uncertainties of survival. Some began their prayers, audibly proclaiming their trust in the Almighty, that they would be redeemed, here or in the hereafter.

“I am scared!” Tom’s voice quivered. He held on the mast as if it would keep him from falling overboard.

“We are all scared!” Harry tried to sound brave for the sake of his fellow passengers. “Please stay calm.”

His mind sought his survival knowledge, skills he learned in what his father termed as worthless extracurricular activities.

“Harry, think of something! This is your chance to prove your father wrong,” he heard his own voice commanding his inner self.

Suddenly, there was a loud splash as sea water invaded the boat’s interior.

(to be continued)



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