A/N: Just a quick one-shot, as I'm sitting here waiting to take Reuben (my neighbour's dog) out for a walk. It's a beautiful, sunny October morning and the leaves are starting to turn. I used to hate this time of the year but as I've got older I've learned to love it! Anyway, this is just a short story about Gilligan and a small miracle. :) T x
"GILLIGAN!" The Skipper yells. "Why don't you watch what you're doing?"
Gilligan's face drops as he turns to see the wide stripe of tar he's just applied across the Skipper's chest, ruining the blue polo shirt that Mary Ann had just taken off the line that morning. His eyes creep up towards the Skipper's face. The thunderous expression makes him wince.
"I'm sorry, Skipper, I..." Gilligan falls silent.
The Skipper looks down at the radio which is blaring out The Mosquitoes at top volume.
"I know what you were doing, Gilligan. You were trying to tar the hut and dance to this noise at the same time!"
And I was succeeding too, until you decided to stand right there in my way, Gilligan thinks, but he stays silent, eyes downcast while Bingo, Bango, Bongo and Irving thrash out another lively tune, something called 'I Got Bats In My Belfry, Ants In My Pants, But You Just Make Me Wanna Get Up And Dance, Oh Yeah'.
"Give me that brush, Gilligan." The Skipper whips the tarry brush out of Gilligan's hand. "The day you do anything right without messing up will be a miracle. You hear me? A miracle!"
With that, the Skipper storms off to find Mary Ann and tell her she needs to wash his shirt all over again because Gilligan covered it with tar.
Gilligan bends down and switches off the radio. He picks it up and mooches into the jungle with it. He's heard the same things so many times- it'd be a miracle if he didn't mess things up, just once. If one day the washing didn't fall in the sand, or the piles of firewood didn't get scattered all over the floor, or a coconut didn't fall on the Skipper's head, or a signal fire didn't fail to get lit properly. It'd be a miracle if one day Gilligan didn't mess up so completely that everyone ignored him all the way through dinner and he was left to mutter to himself about the day's events while he pushed his uneaten food around the plate and watched it grow cold and congealed.
It'd be a miracle if someone didn't yell at me at least once a day, Gilligan thinks, drifting further into the jungle, the radio held protectively against his chest.
The shelter of the trees is cool, while the occasional flash of sunlight through the canopy gives him a warm kiss on the cheek or back of the neck as he scuffs his sneakers through fallen leaves and dead twigs. Some parts of the jungle remind him of the woods near his home when he was a little boy. He and Skinny Mulligan would build a den and spend whole afternoons there, reading comic books and blowing huge bubblegum bubbles, laughing hysterically each time a bubble burst and covered their faces with pink, sticky goo. Many a summer evening had been spent in the bathtub while Mrs. Gilligan and Mrs. Mulligan respectively scrubbed bubblegum residue out of their sons' hair, to the point where one day Mrs. Mulligan declared that she was going to shave Skinny's head bald because she had better things to do than look after a son who insisted on behaving like a scruffier version of Huckleberry Finn. After that, Skinny was very careful not to get bubblegum in his hair, while Gilligan carried on blowing enormous bubbles just to make Skinny laugh. Making Skinny laugh was worth three hours wasted in the bathtub, Gilligan reasoned, because Skinny had a laugh that sounded like a donkey getting stuck in a barbed wire fence.
Gilligan comes out of the jungle and the island feels tropical again. The sun welcomes him with a broad smile, the sea glimmers and winks. Mary Ann once told him his eyes were the same colour as the sea. Not the sea that was close to land, not the sea that was on the horizon, but the bit in the middle. The bit where green meets blue. She told him it was a beautiful, calming colour. He spent a long time afterwards looking in the mirror, peering at his eyes close up until Skipper asked him if he was okay. Sure, Skipper, he had replied. I got a grain of sand in my eye, that's all.
As he wanders down to the coast, the grass become sparser until it gives way to gritty scrub and then coarse, grainy sand. Gilligan looks back at his footprints. He's worn the same sneakers for so long that he can actually make out the shape of his feet in the imprints left by the soles of his shoes.
He finds a spot under a palm tree, sits down and switches on the radio. Mosquito Hour is over, but the tunes now playing are almost as good. There's a group called The Never Nevers with a song called 'I'll Be Your Rocking Chair, Baby, Do You Do This Sitting Down?' and one called Five Crazy Cats with 'Call Me a Circle 'Cause I Sure Ain't No Square'. Soon Gilligan's toes are tapping, then his arms begin waving and his head begins shaking and pretty soon he's air drumming like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich combined.
While Gilligan is preoccupied, a tiny creature crawls up the sand a small distance away. As the song on the radio comes to an end, Gilligan, exhausted, stops gyrating and opens his eyes, breathing heavily with exertion. He sees the small animal and, like a cat, he becomes still immediately, his whole attention focused on what the little crustacean is doing.
It's a hermit crab, and Gilligan realises it's looking for a new home. He gets up onto his haunches and creeps closer. He doesn't want to disturb the crab as it looks around for somewhere new to live.
Gilligan spies a likely looking shell. He checks to make sure there's not a crab already living in it, then he places it as close to the little wandering crab as he can. He settles into a comfortable position, resting on his elbows so he can watch. He resists the urge to point the crab in the right direction and whispers quiet words of encouragement as its little legs bring it closer and closer to the empty shell he's chosen.
When the hermit crab reaches the empty shell, its feelers come out and it begins examining the shell for suitability, much as a human would go check out a new house.
"I hope the kitchen's big enough for you," Gilligan says as the crab picks up the shell and turns it this way and that. "I hear there's a Rec Room downstairs in the basement."
The hermit crab is surprisingly skilful as it looks the shell over, considering the slightly clumsy way that it toddled up the beach.
"There's space for an extra bedroom, too," Gilligan points out. "You know, just in case you and Mrs. Hermit Crab decide to..." He stops. Even when he's on his own, it makes Gilligan blush slightly to go into any more detail than that.
The hermit crab makes its decision. Slowly it begins to remove itself from its old shell. Gilligan watches, awestruck, as the little body reveals itself. He's not sure he should be looking at a naked hermit crab, but the crab doesn't seem to mind. It has an odd, elongated, soft-looking 'tail' which it hooks into the opening of the new shell, and slowly it draws the new shell over itself, winding its tail deep inside the spiral until finally the shell is sitting over the entire hermit crab like a protective hood, with only its little legs and feelers sticking out.
"Yay, you did it!" Gilligan murmurs, clapping his hands quietly. "You found yourself a new home!"
The new shell is a kind of deep blue colour, but when the sun shines on it there's a greenish sheen. As the crab takes a few tentative steps in its new home, the shell glimmers and sparkles. Compared to the old shell, which was a drab brown, the new shell says, look at me, I've arrived!
Gilligan decides to keep the old shell. He picks it up and puts it in his pocket. Maybe he'll find a smaller hermit crab who needs a new home, he thinks. How about that, I could become a Realtor for Hermit Crabs, and I wouldn't even charge a bean.
The hermit crab in his new blue-green shell wanders back down the beach. There's a new swagger to his walk, or so Gilligan thinks. Maybe he's found the Rec Room already. Or maybe he's making plans for the spare bedroom.
Then he looks up and realises the crab's new home is the same colour as the sea. Not the bit closest to the shore, not the bit on the horizon, but the bit in the middle. The bit that Mary Ann said was the same colour as his eyes.
The colour that she said was beautiful and calm.
It'll be a miracle if you went through a whole day without messing up, the Skipper was fond of saying. But the real miracles went on every day, all around them, and they weren't big miracles that you couldn't fail to notice. They weren't false miracles like being able to tar a hut without tarring every single other thing in sight, or being able to walk a line from point A to point B without tripping over object C. They were small miracles, subtle miracles, miracles that you only noticed if your eyes were open, and your mind as well. Miracles were things that happened all the time, every day, like a tiny crab knowing just what he had to do to find a new home. A tiny crab with a new home the colour of Gilligan's eyes.
A tiny flower could grow in the deepest part of the jungle where no-one would ever see it. But that didn't stop it being beautiful, it didn't stop it from growing tall and proud towards the sun. It didn't stop it from doing its own thing, regardless of who or what was watching.
Gilligan's face breaks into a broad, dimpled grin. As the little hermit crab meanders on its merry way, Gilligan turns up the radio full volume and resumes his wild drumming, flaying the air with his fists and shaking his head so hard that his ears begin ringing. There's a group called Ronny and The Rainbows and they're singing, 'Who Needs The Moon When I've Got Stars In My Eyes', and it's a peach.
The Skipper might wait forever for his miracles, but Gilligan finds them every day, right out there in the open, where they're just waiting to be discovered.