Cowardice

Just a few notes before we begin: I've never posted anything on the net before, so I'm looking forward to reviews: the more brutal the better. I realize this is totally boring right now so you don't have to tell me… but you can anyways if you really want. Please do tell me what I can improve on so far, and rest assured, it will get more dramatic and romantic and all that good stuff.

I had to read this for English class and, of course, I couldn't help but to read between the lines. Ralph and Jack worship each other until Jack goes all psycho: this much is clear. According to Golding, Jack is "ugly". Well, we all have different tastes. I'll bet you Golding is just jealous. By show of hands, how many think Jack is ugly?

… That's what I thought. Well, he gets ugly on the inside, but whatever. Just have to express that I am certain that Jack and Ralph will grow into beautiful young men... better for the… imagery. Yeah.

That's all for now, happy travels.

Part 1—Scars

Ralph was afraid to open his eyes—afraid to see that he had only imagined the slow, reassuring rock of the ship; afraid to see sand and rock, rather than a homely cabin complete with a wash basin and tiny round window overlooking that eerily blue ocean. Instead, he simply shifted his swollen head on his pillow anxiously.

Pillow, he thought. He—now optimistically—lifted his lids and found himself peering over the edge of a tiny, yet heavenly comfortable, cot that took up most of the room in the small cabin. He didn't care that it was a fantastically low class cubby fit for a deck sweeper. It was warm and safe, and he was one of the few of the boys who got a whole cabin to himself. This was most likely due to a certain amount of sobbing on his part and a certain amount of pity on the part of the officers.

Ralph could have lain there for days, half drooping off the soft cot staring at his filthy clothes discarded to the floor, when there was a loud jiggling of the doorknob. With a start he pulled his knees up to his chest and sat back against the wall.

"Hullo?" he called nervously, twisting his fingers in his oversized, clean nightshirt.

The door swung open slowly with a low creak, and Ralph gave a sigh of relief when the man called Luther stepped in, his boots making a hollow noise on the floor. He looked so tall from where Ralph was sitting that it was a wonder his head didn't scrape the ceiling. He had met the man after they'd boarded the cruise ship.

"The others are eating," Luther told him gently, slowly, as if not to startle Ralph, who wondered why he was being spoken to like a child. "Would you like to go join your friends?"

Ralph couldn't picture the boys eating anything but charred pig meat with filthy, greasy mouths and hands.

When he didn't respond, Luther added, "I have some fresh clothes for you… not exactly your size, I'm sure, but it's the best we can do for now." He held up a tiny pile of folded clothes.

Ralph leaned forward and took the clothes. "Thank you," he muttered. "But they're no friends of mine. I can't go out there."

Luther looked confused for a moment, but then stepped into the cabin and shut the door behind him. "I understand what you said to me before—about what happened on that island. But now—"

"They want to kill me!" Ralph cried softly.

"Nobody wants to kill you, Ralph," he said. "I've talked to them. They're all cleaned up and rested like you are."

Ralph was starving, but the small room felt safe, so long as he was shut away from the others. From Jack Merridew. He and Jack had traveled to the ship on separate rowing boats, and they had not seen each other since the chase had ended. All it would take was a push, just one push over the edge of the railing… would the grown-ups really be able to protect him? Somehow, despite what he was telling himself, he really felt that the grown-ups would keep him safe—all of them safe. After all, the officers were already taking them someplace out of harm's way, feeding them, clothing them.

Be brave, Ralph told himself. Be civilized.

"Yes, I'll join them," he said softly, uncertain if anything could be said between he and the other boys anyhow.

The officer seemed pleased with this and ducked out of the cabin politely so that Ralph could get dressed.

As Ralph removed his nightshirt he looked down at his naked body through thin strands of hair that hung in his eyes. His skin still seemed somehow unfamiliar to him with all the dirt and sweat wiped away from it. The one thing he wasn't able to wipe away, however, was his cuts. The bruises would heal, but the cuts would turn to scars, and they would never go away. No matter what he could do to try to convince himself that his days on the island were a dreadful nightmare, his scars would always be a spiteful reminder that he had been through a living hell called Jack Merridew.

The gentle rocks and creaks of the ship eventually brought him back about himself, and he leisurely dressed himself in the oversized shirt and shorts, rolling up his sleeves and tying the belt around his waist as it was much to large for him to fasten properly. It made him feel so small and insignificant being in the big ship, in the big clothes. It made him want to cry as he wondered how if such small people could have made such big trouble, what kind of trouble were the big people making with the war?

Don't be a coward.

With a reluctant sigh, Ralph marched out onto the deck, not fully certain what to expect and quite certain that he was not prepared for any of it.