The island was big enough to sustain life for their small group.
Which was good, because they couldn’t figure a way off of it, and, even if they had, they weren’t certain there was anything to return to. They had escaped onto Jacob’s fishing boat at the last moment, just as the city was burning and the lava was filling the streets. The waves had knocked them onto this island. And here they were, with fresh water and a little bit of fauna, a little bit of flora, a little bit of shelter.
In her heart, Suzanna knew it wasn’t sustainable. They had food, but not enough for the seven of them. The water would last, and as long as this was as territorial as they thought it was, their makeshift shelter would do. But the only food they’d found was on trees, or the small animals that ran around the place. Making it last, not eating up their entire food supply, would be tricky if not impossible.
And, without birth control, if they were here long enough, if nobody rescued them, if they couldn’t find a way off the island, that problem would only get worse.
“Hey, Suze,” Martin called, from the stretch of beach where he was supposed to be gathering seaweed. “Suze! Gretel! I found something!”
“Something” could be just about anything, but she made her way over to him, if only to stop the shouting. “What is it, Mar?”
“It’s a wine bottle. Message in a bottle sort of thing, maybe? I mean, fat lot of good it’s going to do us, but we could always add our own message and throw it back into the water.”
“We could,” she agreed, because quashing anyone’s hopes was just cruel. “Let me see it?”
She opened the bottle, tugging the cork out – surprising it hadn’t popped out; it wasn’t set home properly at all, and turning the whole thing upside down. Much to her surprise – and, it seemed, everyone else’s – a single red rose dropped out, stem first, its thorns catching on her skin.
“It has roots,” Frank was the first to notice. “I’ve never seen a single rose with roots. Think it will grow if we plant it?”
“It might be nice.” Andrea was still so shy, even with only the seven of them around. You could barely hear her over the waves. “Might be nice to have something of home.”
After that, even if James had wanted to argue, he would have been outvoted. They planted the rose in a sunny, well-drained spot, and hoped for the best.
And, to Suzanna’s private surprise, the rose grew, faster than she thought a rose ought to, taller than seemed reasonable, with longer thorns and thicker vines than anything should have. And, in a matter of a week, just as they were contemplating their dwindling food stores, the vine that should have been a rose produced fruit.
They were skeptical at first, and confused – roses didn’t make fruit – but they were also growing hungry and, after one of the small island mammals devoured one of the fruits and suffered no apparent ill effects, they decided it was safe to try.
Martin, he of the most sensitive digestion, declared himself their test subject and, gingerly, cut one of the breadfruit-like globes apart and ate it, slice after slice, declaring it delicious.
When it came her time to eat it, Suzanna stared at their salvation-in-a-bottle, their wine-and-roses fruit, with a bit of tired suspicion. “Now all you need to do,” she told the solitary flower, “Is figure out how to grow into a house.”
She turned away before she could see its vines start to stretch and grow again.
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