A/N - This story was inspired by a picture of a bird, taken from the camouflage of a chive plant. Thanks for the inspiration, Teebs :D
I hope you enjoy it.
With the sun beating down on his tan, slender shoulders, William Gilligan swung his axe. The sweat glistened on his skin and trickled down the sides of his face. With Skipper on one side of him and Professor on the other, they were working hard to clear an area not too far from their new living quarters.
They had been on the island for two months now. The search parties had been called off, and the castaways had given up hope for a speedy rescue. They had to face the reality that they could be on this island for a long time.
Last week, they had put the finishing touches on their huts. Naturally, the Howells had their own hut, the girls shared one, and Skipper and Gilligan had a hut. The Professor had stated a preference for rooming in the large supply hut, as he had a tendency to stay up late working on experiments, writing papers and planning out possible rescue ideas.
This particular day found them clearing an area with lush, fertile soil that fell between their living quarters and their water supply. MaryAnn had stated that, with her farming experience, she could maintain a garden that would keep them all eating well. She was a cheerful girl and a hard worker. Skipper and Professor had come to appreciate her willingness to pitch in and help, always with a bright smile on her face.
While Gilligan was far too shy to act on it, he had noticed her bright smile, too. If there was anything that she needed or wanted, anything to make her stay on the island more comfortable or enjoyable, the young sailor was quite happy to oblige. As he swung his axe again, sending a young koa tree toppling over, he spied the pretty farm girl heading towards them with a bucket of fresh water.
He swung the axe one last time, lodging the blade into the tree trunk and wiped the sweat out of his eyes. Ambling over to MaryAnn, he reached out to take the coconut shell cup that she had filled for him.
"Thanks, MaryAnn," he said shyly. Then he chugged the cool water down in one large gulp, holding it out for more.
"Gilligan, don't be greedy," ordered Skipper, as he came over for a drink as well, followed by the Professor.
"But I'm thirsty," Gilligan whined, still holding his cup out.
MaryAnn smiled. "There's plenty here, Skipper," she said. With that, she filled Gilligan's cup again, giving him a huge smile and batting her eyes at him.
Gilligan was oblivious to her attempts at flirting. Skipper and Professor, however, both noticed. Skipper gave Professor an exasperated look, and the Professor turned his head to hide his smile.
"Gilligan," Skipper said, gruffly. "Take this sapling back to the compound and start cutting it up for firewood. The Professor and I will finish with these last two trees, then we'll be coming along behind you."
"Yes, Sir," said Gilligan, offering a salute. He stood there at attention until Skipper noticed him.
"Oh for goodness sake, Gilligan, just get going," he ordered and gave a half-hearted salute back.
Gilligan stumbled over the fallen tree and bumped into MaryAnn – not hard, just enough to slosh the water.
"Sorry," he said with a grimace. She giggled while he picked himself up and dusted the dirt off his backside.
He hooked his arm around the sapling and grabbed the axe with his other hand and started trudging through the jungle behind MaryAnn.
"I wish I could carry that water for you, MaryAnn," he said. "I hate to see you having to work so hard."
"Oh, that's all right, Gilligan," she answered. "I don't mind. Growing up on a farm, I'm used to hard work. And besides, you men do most of the hard work around here."
He grinned and nodded shyly.
When they got back to the compound, he dropped the sapling over by his hut and followed MaryAnn to the table, where he poured himself another cup of water.
Then he walked over to the water trough and dunked his t-shirt in and used it to wash his face and arms.
MaryAnn shook her head. "I can't imagine how hot it must be to be out there cutting down those trees," she said to him, as he slipped his wet t-shirt back on. "But I want to thank you. I'm so excited to be able to have a garden."
Gilligan smiled at her enthusiasm. Then he noticed a pile of coconut shells and hollowed gourds lying on the tabletop.
"Hey, what's all this?" he asked.
"Oh, I was just experimenting with different shells and gourds, trying to make cups and containers for putting things in," she explained.
Hi picked up a tall, skinny one. "This looks like it would make a good flower vase," he commented.
MaryAnn clapped her hands and nodded vigorously. "That's exactly what I was thinking," she said.
He glanced over at the sapling that he was supposed to be cutting up. "After I get that chopped up, I'll take a walk back in the jungle and get some. I saw some real pretty purple flowers a while ago not far from the clearing."
MaryAnn beamed at him. "Oh thank you, Gilligan. That's just the sweetest thing you could do."
He grinned and shrugged. "You're welcome," he answered bashfully.
Gilligan worked hard over the next hour and got the small sapling cut into pieces and stacked alongside his hut. He took a few of the larger chunks from the trunk over to the table.
"Hey, MaryAnn," he called out.
"What is it, Gilligan?" she answered as she came out of her hut.
"What do you think of these pieces?" he asked. "I figure we could carve a few bowls out of them. It'd be a lot of work, but the bowls would be real useful." He turned one of the pieces around in his hands, looking it from different angles, examining the grains and the array of red colors. "The Hawaiians use koa wood to make lots of stuff. It's real pretty."
"Oh Gilligan, that's a wonderful idea. Do you think you could?" she asked.
He shrugged one shoulder and twisted his mouth in thought. "I think so. I can try, anyway."
Just then, Skipper and Professor came stumbling into the compound, both dragging some more trees that they had cleared.
"Gilligan," Skipper said. "I want these chopped up and stacked with the other wood."
"Awww, Skipper, my arms are about to fall off. Can't I do it tomorrow?" Gilligan asked.
Skipper sighed. He looked over at the perfectly stacked wood that Gilligan had already done, then back at his first mate's hopeful face.
"All right, Little Buddy," he said, patting Gilligan on the back. "I do have to admit, you've already put in a pretty full day. Go ahead, take the rest of afternoon off."
"WooHoo!" Gilligan yelled.
MaryAnn clapped her hands together. "Oooh, Gilligan, now you can show me where you found those flowers."
"Yeah, MaryAnn," he answered. "Let's go."
They both jumped up and headed quickly into the jungle, chattering excitedly as Gilligan described the flowers that he wanted to show her.
Skipper looked over at Professor. "He sure found a little energy, didn't he," he said, shaking his head slowly.
"Yes, well," Professor answered. "Pretty girls have been known to affect young men like that."
Not long after that, Gilligan and MaryAnn were strolling down the trail heading towards the garden area. The trail was starting to become worn from constant use, and the young friends weren't concerned with straying too far or losing their direction.
Gilligan's constant exploration of the immediate area had rendered him the resident expert on where things were in the jungle.
"Over here, there's a bee hive in that banyan tree," he said, as he lead MaryAnn off the trail to the left. He laid down on the ground and stuck his arm up a hollowed area at the base of the trunk.
"Oooh Gilligan, be careful," MaryAnn said in a worried tone. "You might get stung."
"Naah," he answered. "The bees are all up high. See?" He pointed to the fork in the branches higher up, where there was a great deal of activity.
He stretched and grunted, and was rewarded with a chunk of the hive, containing a small amount of honey.
"Here, taste it," he offered, holding it out to MaryAnn.
MaryAnn looked at his outstretched hand; then she looked at Gilligan, with his back and hair covered in grass and bits of bark stuck to his arm. Laughing, she took the honey and licked it.
"Mmmm, this is wonderful. Thanks for showing me where this is, Gilligan. I can use the honey when I fix meals for everybody." MaryAnn's mind was already working quickly to combine the honey with other ingredients, to come up with sweet, succulent dishes.
Gilligan reached back up and broke off another piece for himself, and the two of them worked their way back to the trail. As they approached the clearing, Gilligan motioned to a narrow trail off to their right.
"Here, let me lead," he said, moving in front of MaryAnn. "Some of the bushes here are kinda thorny." He looked around and found a fallen branch and then used it to push back some thorny branches so that MaryAnn could get by. Just as she passed by him, a flash of scarlet flew by her head.
"Oh my, Gilligan! Did you see that? What was it?" she exclaimed.
"Oooh, I don't know, but it sure was pretty. Look, look! There it is, up there." He pointed to a monkey pod tree. As he did, the bird flew down to some bushes. Every time that Gilligan and MaryAnn thought they could get a closer look, the bird would fly just a little further into the jungle.
"What we need, is a disguise," Gilligan said. He was looking around, thinking hard.
"What do you mean? Like camouflage?" MaryAnn asked.
"Yeah, yeah. Camouflage." He was looking all around and spied the little purple flowers that started this whole excursion. "There they are – the flowers," he said, pointing at them. "We can use those."
MaryAnn looked at where he was pointing. "Oh, Gilligan, those are cute little flowers," she said, smiling.
He took her hand and pulled her down to the ground with him. Taking a thin vine, he wrapped it around her head and tied it.
"What are you doing?" she asked, trying not to move too much.
"Disguising you," he stated. After tying the vine on, he picked a bunch of the little purple flowers and started sticking them into the vine, covering her head in a purple flowery cap.
She covered her mouth with her hands and tried to hold the giggles in. Her shoulders were shaking.
"Stay still," he demanded. He was completely focused on his mission. After he was satisfied with MaryAnn's disguise, he pulled a small piece of vine and tied it onto his hat. "Okay, do me, now," he told her.
"All right," she said, still giggling. She put a ridiculous amount of flowers all over his hat to disguise his head. She was just finishing up when she took a good look at the flowers still in her hand. She lifted one up and sniffed at the flower; then she sniffed at the stem.
"Gilligan! Do you know what this is?" she asked, suddenly excited.
Gilligan had been watching her intently. He studied the flower she had in her hand. "A purple flower," he said with confidence.
"Well, yes, it is, but it's more than that," she said.
"What then?" he asked.
"These are chives!" she squealed.
"Chives? Really? Oh boy, chives! MaryAnn . . . what are chives?"
MaryAnn chuckled. "They're a kind of onion. You can cook with them. Oh, this is wonderful. I can use them in eggs, and to cook with fish, and in salads . . ."
"You know what else they're good for?" Gilligan asked.
"Camouflage! Come on . . . crawl on your stomach." And he got on his stomach and started working his way through the bushes to get closer to the red bird.
MaryAnn got on her stomach and slithered and crawled behind him. After about 15 feet, he stopped. They were now in a patch of tall grass. The bird was about four feet in front of them, in a bush bearing yellow flowers. He was perched on a branch; but suddenly, he flipped upside down and worked his way up and down the underside of the branch, picking at insects.
Gilligan motioned for MaryAnn to come up even with him. When she got up to him, they both slowly got on their knees; they lifted their flower-adorned heads in unison, very slowly.
They got only so high and then both stopped, frozen. Their eyes were just below the top of the grass, with the purple flowers on their heads standing tall. The bird stopped pecking; still hanging upside down, he looked around at the tall grass. He seemed to stare right at Gilligan and MaryAnn.
They knelt in the grass, not moving a muscle. There was no breeze, no movement at all. Just the hum of insects all around. The bird watched them for another moment, then continued pecking for bugs. Gilligan chanced a quick glance at MaryAnn. Her eyes were wide, and her face was completely enchanted. She had a delighted smile on her lips, and Gilligan could not help but smile, too.
Looking back, he was surprised to see the bird take flight again - right towards him. He landed in the middle of the purple chive hat. The bird pecked at a flower, then flew off again; this time deeper into the jungle.
Gilligan fell down into a sitting position. MaryAnn hadn't moved yet. They looked at each other and burst out laughing.
"Did you see that?" he asked, holding his stomach. "Right on my head. These camouflage hats worked just right."
"I wish I had my camera," MaryAnn said wistfully. "That would have been a perfect picture." She giggled again at the thought of it. "Come on, Gilligan," she said, finally standing and pulling him up with her. "Let's pick some more chives to cook for dinner. Between these and the honey you showed me, we're going to be eating like kings! Oh, I can't wait to transplant some of these chives over into my garden."
"MaryAnn," Gilligan said, as he filled his fists with bunches of chives. "I'm so glad you're shipwrecked with me." He looked over at her with such a sincere smile and the biggest dimples that her heart did a little flip.
MaryAnn smiled back. "Thank you, Gilligan. You know what? I'm glad, too."
With fistfuls of flowers and the purple hats still adorning their heads, they strolled back to the huts, so engrossed in their conversation that they didn't even notice the beautiful scarlet bird flitting from tree to tree, following them down the narrow jungle trail.