Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, Isabella considered, as she slid under one row of seats, across the aisle, then under the row of seats on the other side. Her tiny body smacking into the wall, only to have the whole process repeat in the reverse direction, while the relentless waves played volleyball with the Ferry she had stowed away on. She pressed herself as flat as a lumpy pancake, and struggled to dig her toenails into the metal-clad floor. Cringing from the impending impact, and the high pitched sound of her nails grazing across the slick surface, she lowered her head, hopeful her perky ears wouldn’t be permanently bent.
At least she wasn’t cold anymore; after all, that was why she was moving to the Island. Even as a puppy, wearing the sweater her mother knit for her, snuggling under the blanket, in the basket with her brothers and sisters, she still couldn’t keep from shivering. Being warm, made the nauseating, body bruising ride, to get to the Island worthwhile, well not really, she’d just come and go by airplane from now on.
Even after the Ferry had docked, her insides continued to churn for a few moments; she hesitated to relinquish her false sense of grip. A few deep breaths, a glance at her reflection in the shiny metal floor, relieved to see her ears were not folded in half; she stood up, scurried past the humans, anxious to be on firm ground, and to see her new home—Roatan.
No one was waiting to greet her, no one was expecting her to arrive; actually no one knew she existed. That was okay, she was sure she’d make friends. Maybe not with that land-crab coming towards her, he was at least twice her size, must have been on the Ferry too, the way he walked sideways, and kept opening and closing his big claw like he had no control of its movement. Oh, how about that lizard? No! He’s running along on two legs, when he has four he could be using—what’s up with that? She didn’t notice the green-grey moss covered troll, lurking in the jungle, its huge frame, blocking the dabbling sun peeking through the foliage, the delicate new growth shrivelling from the intense frost left in its wake. The troll had found his next victim of doubt, and would follow her every move—bidding time.
Entering West End (this is a fairytale; Chihuahuas can make it to West End from the Ferry dock in a matter of moments) Isabella peered around the two taxis facing each other, neither one willing to back up, so they could both proceed, transfixed by the deep craters etched in the sand road, she snugged the straps of her backpack, and scrambled down the steep embankment of the first hole, then ran as fast as her petite legs would carry her up the other side. That wasn’t so bad, she thought, only slightly out of breath. But, by the fifth sand trench, she struggled to reach the crest, panting, her tiny toes cramping, glancing ahead; disappointed to see she had travelled less than half a block.
Harvey—the gnome (told you this was a fairytale) straightened his two foot frame to admire his latest excavation. He was pleased with his progress now that those silly humans had stopped filling in his hard work. They never bothered the land-crabs pitiful attempt at mining; finally they’d smartened up and were letting the master show them how open-pit mines should be developed. Initially, he had been furious when kidnapped by the Travelling Gnome Gang, the first few places they shipped him to weren’t to his liking, nice places to visit—but, not as nice as his home in Nome. The gold mining had been spectacular in Alaska, but it was dang cold. After being flown to Roatan, even the week spent in the, “your-luggage-isn’t lost-its-just-not-here” room at the airport, hadn’t bother him so much, now he preferred the year round, balmy climate on Roatan. Besides, Harvey felt he was supposed to be here—he had no idea why—what the heck—why fight it.
No time to dilly-dally, he reminded himself, and slid back into the pit, dodging the Fairies (disguised as Hummingbirds), zipping around his head, trying to convince him to: take a break, gaze at the Caribbean Sea, perhaps a nap in a hammock. Roatan may foster a laid-back attitude, but Harvey had brought his self-imposed, work-until-you-drop ethic, with him from North America, and wasn’t about to relinquish it. Unearthing another Yaba Ding Ding (pre-Columbian artefact) he stuffed it in his pocket, to later add to his cache, ready to be sold. He knew he should hand them over as “National Treasures” to be enjoyed by all, but making some cash overpowered all inclinations of what he should do.
When loose sand and gravel started pouring in the hole, fearing a cave-in, Harvey crouched forward, as Isabella tumbled into the pit, landing with a thud in front of him. What the heck is this, he thought, brushing debris from his knees, peering at the creature with the perky ears and a pink backpack askew on her shoulders? Oh, she’s in rough shape, he considered, obviously needs a drink of water, probably hungry too—dang newbie! What’s she doing wandering around my mine? He tugged at her backpack until she was standing on her four feet, went to his rusty lunchbox, pulled out the water-bottle, poured tepid water in the cap, and set it in front of her. While she greedily lapped at the water, he un-wrapped the baleada he was saving for his lunch, and broke off a few pieces for her. She gobbled those down, and couldn’t prevent the belch that escaped her tiny frame as soon as she finished eating.
A dark cloud passed over the open hole, cast by the green-grey moss covered troll, blocking the blazing mid-day sun. Not yet acclimatized to the intense heat, Isabella followed the cloud cover, and attempted to stay under the no panting relief it brought. Just like home, she sighed. Harvey grabbed her, pulling her back into the warmth. If you’re gonna make it here kid, he thought, you better get yourself use to it, and not be drawn to what you use to know—it ain’t right for you anymore!
Isabella bared her tiny sharp teeth, and snapped at Harvey! How dare he tell her what she should do? She’d been figuring things out for herself as far back as she could remember. Nobody, not even a helpful, gave her food and drink gnome, was going to dictate what she should do! Isabella scrambled out of the pit, chasing the deceptive, cooling mist. Harvey watched her go, shaking his head, knowing that eventually she’d figure it out for herself, and if she didn’t, well, she’d just go back to the State of Chihuahua, like so many before her. Oh dang! Harvey summoned the Fairies to follow her. This one belongs here, he indicated; help her—without her knowing that is what you are doing.
Isabella ran as fast as her little legs would carry her. “Wait for me!” she cried to the green-grey troll. He sneered; this was way too easy, slowing his pace, letting her catch up. She dove under the cover of shade the moss provided, letting the familiar sensation of cool envelop her. When she began to shiver, and tried to pull away, it was too late, the bone chilling cold was impeding her ability to move, within a matter of moments she was frozen to the spot, her pink backpack cracking under the strain of ice coating the surface.
“Stay away!” the green-grey troll bellowed, thrashing his arms, swatting at the swarm of hummingbirds rushing toward Isabella. Their swift moving wings and glistening jewel-like feathers breaking up his thick cloud cover, allowing the sun’s rays to peek through. When the ice slick on Isabella’s backpack transformed to water droplets, and started to trickle down the straps, the green-grey troll conceded defeat, swirled his moss covered cloak around himself, and drifted away toward the Ferry Dock—seeking his next victim—so many wannabe’s, so little time. Actually, maybe it was a good day to check out the airport.
As the warmth seeped back into her body and soul, Isabella twitched her perky ears, then one by one, her tiny legs, and finally her entire self was free from the restrains of what once had been her comfort zone. Smiling sheepishly at her friend Harvey, she did a little Chihuahua twirl when he grinned back, and waved her on. She’d be okay now. No longer afraid to explore: the unknown, the unfamiliar, the unexpected—the wonder of life on Roatan.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, dogs, gnomes, trolls, or fairies, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story can also be read at Honduras Weekly