Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Turbulent Journey - Ch. 8

The next morning the sea seemed to be in a playful mood. It gurgled, foamed, and gently smacked against the back of the boat that was still partially immersed in it. Except for the birds flying overhead, the island was pretty quiet today.

Suddenly, a loud shriek ripped through the air. Jamaal threw his fishing pole down and ran from where he sat on a raised grassy cliff to see what was the matter. Martinez was fast on his heels.

Lord, please don’t let Angel be hurt. I haven’t even told her that I loved her yet, Jamaal prayed as he sprinted to where the cry resonated from. He didn’t even care about the stinging nettle plants that brushed against his shins and ankles as he ran. Only Angel mattered now. He would just have to put some ointment on his lower limbs later.

Jamaal made it back to the boat just in time to see Angel crouched down at the edge of the seashore, trying vigorously to wash shampoo out of her hair. She was in a ball of tears again. This time it was due to the condition of her long sandy locks.

Angel’s copper highlights were fading and for weeks her hair had been breaking off in clumps. She’d already tried everything she could think of to stop the breakage, but nothing was working. Because this trip was just supposed to be for the weekend, she hadn’t packed enough of her regular hair care products. Thus her usually chemically processed hair was suffering tremendous damage. Jamaal didn’t have this problem. He’d simply taken to shaving his head bald every week.

Jamaal arrived at Angel’s side just as she completed the final rinse. “What’s wrong?” His mahogany face was the mirror of concern.

She paused and held out a clump of hair in both hands. Her eyes were puffy and red from crying. “It’s snapping at the new growth. I don’t know what to do.”

Jamaal looked at the wet patches of hair in Angel’s hands and frowned. Suddenly realization sunk in. “Have you been washing your hair in salt water all this time?” He leaned his head to the side, his eyebrows arched in question.

Angel nodded, trying hard not to cry again. She’d cried enough last night and she was tired of it. “Yes, I didn’t want to use up our drinking water.”

Oops! I thought she knew, Jamaal mused. Angel caught on so quickly to everything else that he took it for granted that she knew certain other things. In fact, he’d never seen anyone load or unload a weapon as fast as her. Angel would have made an excellent soldier.

Suddenly a smile played at the corners of Jamaal’s mouth. He extended his arms to her. “Come here, Angel.” Pleased by how unpretentiously she entered his tender embrace, Jamaal looked down into her troubled face and added even more warmth to his smile.

Angel tingled all over as she looked up into his warm nut-brown eyes. She felt caressed. Then when Jamaal spoke again, his voice was just as warm and just as soft as his gaze. “From now on, use some of the drinking water. Salt water has a dehydrating effect on the body,” he advised.

Angel’s green eyes instantly shined with enlightenment. “Oh, I see. Well, so much has come out now that I know I’m going to have to cut it.” She ran her hands through her uneven locks. More hair snapped loose in her fingers. Involuntarily, a new set of tears sprung to her eyes. A sob of self-pity escaped her lips. Even still Angel kept her tears from falling as a rush of hot embarrassment washed over her.

After everything I’ve gone through, I can’t believe I’m crying over something as trivial as hair, Angel mused, forcing self-pity away with those thoughts and replacing it with gratitude. It was a miracle that she’d only lost hair when so many others had lost their very lives.

Before she could say anything else, Jamaal said, “Let’s go trim your hair right now.” Then he escorted Angel to her cabin where he proceeded to cut her long tresses until all that was left was a short, sandy-colored natural afro.

“You look gorgeous,” Jamaal said, admiring Angel’s new hairdo. It was a total complement to her green eyes, high cheekbones, and bronze skin. “Go see for yourself.”

Then while she darted to the bathroom to see her reflection, Jamaal mashed up some wild berries that he’d found in the woods, pausing only to add in several ounces of extra virgin olive oil that he’d gotten from the galley. The stainless steel potato masher was doing its job. Soon the red juice was draining slowly into the bowl and mingling with the clear oil.

When he had enough liquid, Jamaal called Angel back into the room and gestured for her to return to the pillow on the floor while he sat in his previous position on the side of the bed. “This should help with the breakage,” Jamaal said as he began to massage the mixture into her hair and scalp.

“I hope it does. I know it feels good,” Angel replied as she relaxed in Jamaal’s touch. In spite of the circumstances, this had been one of the best relationships she’d ever had. She and Jamaal not only connected mentally, but spiritually also. Angel especially loved their Bible studies most of all. Suddenly she realized that that wasn’t the only thing she loved. She loved Jamaal, too.

When did that happen? Angel asked herself, closing her eyes as she reclined her back against his strong legs.

If Angel thought hard enough, she’d realize that the seeds of love had been planted ever since that night Jamaal stood up for her on the boat. His strength and sensitively made him highly appealing from the moment they meet. The only thing missing now was the solace and convenience of civilization. On this secluded island Angel didn’t dare complicate things with her romantic notions. No, she would keep her feelings to herself. For now.

***

That night Jamaal lay in his bed, staring at the dark ceiling, listening to the gentle waves lap against the boat. Ordinarily that would soothe him right to sleep, but not tonight. Angel was on his mind. He’d been bombarded with romantic thoughts of her ever since yesterday and didn’t know how long he was going to be able to suppress his feelings for her.

Angel, with her stunning natural beauty, her endearing conversation, and her ability to quickly grasp and adjust to even the hardest of things, was simply too wonderful for Jamaal to resist on his own. He’d never met a woman like her before and he seriously doubted if he ever would again.

God, I’m gonna need Your help again, Jamaal prayed, wishing that he’d met Angel under different circumstances. Sometime later, after much soul searching, he finally surrendered to slumber.

***

In the cabin next door Angel also sat in the dark. Instead of looking at the ceiling, she stared out of the small window on the right. The sky was clear tonight. Stars twinkled and winked at her. Under different circumstances, Angel might have winked back, but not tonight. Tonight she had other things on her mind. Finding the Big Dipper, her eyes followed its trail to the two end stars in the bowl that pointed to the North Star.

I wish we could have seen you weeks ago. Then we could have been home by now, Angel mused, referring to the constellation that had previously been hidden from them.

Then sighing out loud, Angel wondered what it all meant. These intense feelings for Jamaal, the shipwreck, all of those innocent people dead, just everything. She was almost afraid to ask God why for fear that His answer would only lead to more questions. Questions that her limited human mind probably wouldn’t be able to handle the answers for anyway. So Angel prayed for something else instead. Lord God, please send us some help soon.

Angel’s Scripture:
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear…” Psalm 118:6

© 2006 Suprina Frazier

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