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  • Discovery at Little Hog Island, Chapter 1: The Warning

    i. The warning

    Dana stood poised at the edge of the sea in her bathing suit. A rough wind tossed and tangled her hair. She studied the island, its rocky shore and the tangle of dark hemlocks and spruces. Sweeping away, barely visible behind the trees, was a barren rocky spit with birds flying in and out. Her birds, terns, by the look of it. The island was wild, intriguing and tempting, and close enough to swim to. She stepped between the rocks into the shockingly cold water, and paused, shivering.

    A man coming up the beach waved his arm urgently. She considered going on, but decided to wait and stepped back onto the damp sand that had collected between jagged rocks. She was a little embarrassed because she was no longer trim, but bulged a little in her suit. The man was fully dressed in baggy blue work parts and a long-sleeved blue work shirt and did not look as if he would ever wear swim trunks. He was gruff-looking, weather-beaten and sported a two-day beard. He looked to be fifty-ish, about her age.

    “You thinking of swimming out to Little Hog Island?” He asked. “Not from these parts, eh?”

    “Yeah, I thought I’d swim out and back. I like a destination, when there’s one nearby."

    “I need to warn you: it’s not safe. The way the tide comes in and out around the island, there are currents, and they get very fast. People have died trying to swim out there, visitors. Most of the locals know better. Ask anyone. Want to swim? Go over the dunes there and swim in the lake. It’s warmer, too.”

    “Thanks,” Dana said, as the man turned and strode back down the beach among the rocks.

    She looked back at the island, considering the man’s words. The island was so close, and she couldn’t see any currents. She looked at his back retreating through the rocks. He turned and saw her looking at him, and paused. She stepped back up the beach.

    She went over the dunes and found a lake, picturesque amid the pines. After she’d swum, she lay on a blanket and half-dozed, thinking and dreaming of the island until voices woke her. A group of teenagers traipsed into the swale between the dunes and set up a volleyball net. They immediately began playing, diving for the ball, leaping high. From their banter, she gathered they were locals.

    “Excuse me,” she asked, “Has anyone drowned swimming out to Little Hog Island?”

    “Yes,” a girl said, “a couple people, three or four. I guess there’re bad currents there.”

    “Have any of you been out there?” The kids all shook their heads.

    “My Grandpa said he’d been out there, and kids used to go out when he was a kid. I guess the current shifted. He said there was some ruins.” one boy said.

    “But you never went out to look?”

    “Nah, never thought about it much.”

    Dana couldn't stop thinking about it. Back at camp, she dug out supplies, a water bottle, a headlamp with red gels over the light, a mini mag light that would fit in her pocket. She hauled her inflatable kayak out of her huge backpack and blew it up. She felt like a spy or a criminal. If there were bad currents, she would avoid them. As soon as it got dark, she paddled south along the shore until she was well past the island, then out to sea, and then back around. She landed without incident on the far side of the island and stowed the kayak in the bushes. Then she crept carefully up a narrow path through the darkness, holding her headlamp with its red gel low to the ground.

    Did she think she was some kind of sleuth? Who was she kidding? Her imagination was overactive, probably, thinking that man was trying to hide something. And if he were, would she be able to find it? Then what?

    The trail climbed steeply, winding between rocks and a thicket of trees, and then opened into a clearing. Ruins were dimly visible, stone walls, foundations, a small stone building that looked intact. From the window, a light shone—and she heard voices.

    Read part ii here


    1)I can't seem to stay away from Cowbird. I love your stories, they are so rich, varied, human, and uplifting.
    2)Since I can't stay away, I am going to try am experiment, for me. (Other people are also trying this, but it's new to me.) I am am going to try to write a novel on Cowbird. It will be difficult, and there are many constraints, so this may not work. This "story" is the beginning of the novel. I hope to post a new installment every day, or nearly every day.
    3) Because this will be a work in progress, and therefor, a draft, there may be times when I will have to change what I've already written to fit the new shape of the plot etc.
    4)I will link the stories in various ways.
    5)The image, by me, is of a foot in the water. It not only accompanies the story, but also my sticking my foot in the water of writing a novel in small installments.
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