“So, what shall we do now?” I asked everyone sitting around the campfire.
“Let me teach you all the Wingardium Leviosa spell.” Hermione piped up, looking at all of us with a joyous expression.
“Baah! What a boring thing to do!”, exclaimed Aphrodite. “Come around girls, let me teach you the art of swishing your hair around perfectly, and successfully catch the attention of the gents standing there.” A slight twinkle in her eye was visible. She was clearly enjoying this.
Sherlock lit up a cigar and called out to his best mate, “Watson, let us examine those trees. There seems to be some kind of disturbance caused by a wild animal there.” He strode away with Watson in tow.
Hazel Grace Lancaster looked grimly into the fire and spoke to me directly. “Can we read Imperial Affliction one more time?”
‘Ugh,’ I thought to myself. ‘I had one chance to get away to an island with five people. And what have I done?’
As I twisted the marshmallows over the fire, I realised that each of the people I had selected were good in their own fields. But they had absolutely nothing in common. It was a bad decision to bring Hazel here along with Aphrodite, the queen of romantic tragedies. Hermione and Holmes had struck up a friendship, because Hermione had a lot of information at hand to recall easily. But Holmes got irked by her constant know-it-all behaviour. I think Dr. Watson and I have the coolest heads on the planet. He quickly brought out drinks for everyone. Champagne for Hazel, Butterbeer for Hermione, Port for Holmes, a pinkish potion for Aphrodite, Whiskey for himself, and Ice Tea for me. I got the camping food ready- hot dogs, corn dogs, sandwiches, and marshmallows. And of course, s’mores.
I racked my head as I thought of some way to keep my guests entertained. Maybe we could play hide-and-seek? But that would be no fun. Hermione would use her Invisibility Spell. Aphrodite would disguise herself into a dove. Holmes would leave no trail as to where he disappeared, taking Watson along with him. Hazel would have a tough time running around, taking her oxygen tank along.
Come to think of it, I hadn’t even brought along any card games. I had the impression that everyone who arrived would be perfectly comfortable in the other’s company. There would be laughter and excited chatter. And there would be no dull moment. A completely blissful evening.
The present situation was a far cry from what I had envisaged. Hermione was sitting on a log, keenly reading Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. When Watson asked her politely why she was reading a book on a pleasant island, she replied, “What if the bowtruckles* catch us when we are asleep?” At a loss for words, he meandered back again to Silent Sherlock. At least that’s what Aphrodite named him. She was filing her nails a minute back, and now she’s back to combing her silky long hair. Hazel was staring at her wistfully, hoping she had something to do with her hands, other than fiddling with the nubbins.
Staring at the words of the book in my hand, I realised that the one thing all of us had in common was words! Hermione was brilliant at remembering and recalling them, Watson wrote wonderful accounts of Sherlock’s adventures. Sherlock himself knew many languages. Aphrodite had a way with words. Hazel wrote a wonderful pseudo-eulogy for Gus. Maybe we could play Scrabble!
Excited, I stood up and exclaimed, “Let’s all play Scrabble!” And there, in the light of the fire, I saw a glint in everyone’s eyes. Or was it the reflection of the fire?
Any way, I was too pumped up to stop. I requested Hermione to summon my Scrabble set from home. She said that distance might affect the time taken. But within ten minutes, the box arrived, with a few alphabets and extra trays trailing along outside it.
Hermione also transformed the log she was sitting on into a cosy table, with six chairs. Plus a sheet for calculating our scores, and a quill for herself, a stylus for Aphrodite, ink pens for Holmes and Watson and ball-point pens for Hazel and me. The ball point pens were quite a novelty for everyone save the two of us, and much time was spent by them, examining and trying to write with it. Hazel and I prepped up the alphabets and board for the game.
After we took our chairs, the question arose of who should go first. By popular vote, we decided that Aphrodite should go first, and then follow the clockwise order.
The seating arrangement was thus: seated on a circular chair, Aphrodite had Watson as her neighbour on the left and Hazel on the right. Then, it was me, Hermione and Holmes.
Aphrodite began the game by placing the word HEART, earning 9 points. Hazel added the alphabets BRE_K to the word Aphrodite had just made, and gave her an angry glare. I surreptitiously saw her write the number 13 one her paper with a force that I would never have associated with her.
It was my turn now, and I had to play the part of peace maker. But the alphabets on my tray certainly weren’t helping my cause. I added a meager TUNE, opening my score book with 5 points.
Hermione wanted to allow a few magical spells and words to be added to the vocabulary list. But for the benefit of Holmes, Watson and Aphrodite, we vetoed that down. Nevertheless, she was ready with her word even before I placed the the alphabet U on the board. She put down DOBBY, gaining 19 points. When Hazel protested, Holmes intervened, saying that it indeed was a word. “A mechanism attached to a loom for weaving small patterns similar to but simpler than those produced by a Jacquard loom.” Hermione breathlessly parroted the meaning of the word, ditto from the Oxford Dictionary.
Holmes then took his time staring at the board, no doubt trying to get an edge over all of us. Finally, after an impatient Watson pulled out a cigar and started puffing on it, Holmes added his word to the board. All of us gazed keenly at the word being formed at the upper left corner of the board. OPIUM. 33 points. Watson merely snorted.
Watson added the word SLEEPY, and got 30 points for it. Maybe it was just to irritate the insomniac sitting to his left? But Holmes gave no indication that he understood the subtle hint. Knowing his deductive mind, he might have already figured out the word he was going to place, and also estimated the words his opponents were to place. And also, where they would place them.
It was Aphrodite’s turn now. But it seemed that she had pulled out her mirror in the midst of this silent, literary squabble. There was fresh lipstick now on her lips, and foundation smeared beautifully on her cheeks. Watson seemed a bit dazed, but Holmes stared keenly at the board. Hermione made an impatient ‘Hmmph’. Hazel merely pulled her chair away from the goddess sitting next to her and leaned closer to me.
This was truly seeming to become a disaster. So I stood up once again and said, “Maybe we could just go back to the campfire and eat some s’mores?”
“Yes, this intellectual game is turning out to be too stimulating for all our hidden differences,” Sherlock remarked. The pun was, indeed, aimed perfectly.
Then Hermione spoke up, “Maybe we could spend the night around the campfire, telling each other stories about our lives?” She looked tentatively from Aphrodite to Hazel, afraid that the latter would pounce on the former and splash her face with a mix of mascara and rouge.
“That would be a good idea,” Hazel piped up. She was the first to stand up and sit by the campfire. Watson followed, a pocket-book ready. Holmes waited till Aphrodite had resumed her seat by the fire, and helped me put the alphabets and trays back in the box. Hermione sent it back home, and then sat next to Hazel and began chatting with her.
“Let me mention one rule about mentioning the stories: It has to be funny and humorous. Nothing sad. Nothing depressing. Okay?”
Everyone nodded their agreement, and Holmes was allowed to go first, as he had the highest points in the game. The night sky resounded with hearty peals of laughter, and girly giggles. Each one had a different story to tell. About that one time they punched an enemy on the face. That one time when they threw eggs on someone’s car. That one time when they successfully tricked the other to believe that they were dying. That one time when they transformed a weasel into a maiden, and then tried to check whether the maiden indeed had forgotten her weasel ways. That one time when they wore braces and tried to speak fluently.
The fire dimmed, and no one bothered to search for more firewood. Everyone drifted off to sleep, even the insomniac Holmes.
After all, all’s well that ends well.
I selected the prompt: “Five people you would take if you were stranded on a deserted island”. I apologize for the too many fictional character references. But I feel my best when I’m surrounded by books, so why not take along my favourite fictional characters to an island! Of course, Aphrodite is not a fictional character. But she is a myth, isn’t she? 😉
Check out some amazing Guest Post tips over at Write Tribe, and select your prompt to work with!
P.S.: For non-Potterheads, bowtruckles are hand-sized, insect eating, tree dwellers with long sharp fingers (two on each hand) and brown eyes.