The Exupery Island
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No sooner had I doubled Le Petit Kongluet when the engine of my old boat started to pink and cut out in 3-4 miles. It was then that I wished I had accepted my neighbour Iwan’s suggestion to add a main trysail or topsail, or at least another large triangular sail. But, alas, it was no use crying over the spilt milk… It was shiny with some wind now and then, and I lay down in my boat my hands on my chest, waiting for the waves to take me to a coast. Time passed, the waves were still hissing threateningly and hitting the board and disappearing in the blue mirage. Sometimes sea gulls with uneasy screams would hover over me, and black and white clouds gathered together near the horizon. I hoped the long-awaited land was hiding behind them, but the clouds, blown by the wind, moved as with one purpose – to shatter my dreams.
A day later, when I was losing my head, I heard a cry behind me: "Are you ok? Do you need help?”
I stood up abruptly and saw a large sailer some 30-45 feet away. My sight grew dark and I fainted.
I woke up in a warm bed in a room with small windows and a low, white ceiling. A dark-complexioned girl with alarm in her face bowed over me. She had features characteristic of South Mediterranean islanders.
I knew I was ok from her reaction, not from my own feelings – she cried out joyfully and rushed out to call someone.
In a minute the room was crowded: some tried to get closer to the bed looking at me, others tapped me on my shoulder and smiled friendly.
But as soon as the house owner gave a sign, the crowd started to break up. When the voices outside died down, I stood up from my bed and walked a bit around the room, still shaking. There were many dim photographs in hand-made wooden frames on the wall. Among them I recognized some badges with pictures from "The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery in a plain frame. That surprised me and I turned to the house owner sitting on the bed. He was watching me attentively ready to help me at once.
"Do you like this book?”, I asked him.
"My name’s Tom”, said he.
"I’m, Albert. Forgive me, I haven’t thanked you for rescuing me”.
Tom nodded with understanding and smiled. He pointed at the frame with badges: "That’s a long story. My father Simon during the war saved a Frenchman. His plane was hit by a German fighter and fell into the sea, not far from us. My father was fishing at that time and saw everything. When the fighter flew away, he swam to the half-drowned plane and took the wounded pilot into his boat”.
"That was close. What was his name?”
"We don’t know. He lost his memory from the head wound. He couldn’t tell us anything”.
"Didn’t he have any documents?”
"He didn’t. In a couple of hours my father returned to the crashed plane and looked for them, but the map-case might have been washed out of the cockpit. Those badges were all my father had found. We showed them to the pilot, but he didn’t react to them”, Tom made a helpless gesture. "Eddy, as we called him, stayed to live with us, he became my older brother, that had died at sea. He fished with us, and died. Seven years ago”.
"You know”, my face lit up, "that could have been the famous writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The mystery of his death is still unsolved. I know, that the Luftwaffe pilot Horst Rippert claimed he had hit Exupery’s plane. That happened on July 31st, 1944 in your region. How did Eddy look like?”
"Well, he was round-faced… well, it’s difficult to describe, he had a normal face but didn’t look French at all. But we have an artist, my cousin sister’s husband, I remember Eddy posed for him. I wonder, if it’s still here. I don’t know. Carlos used to paint on one and the canvas now and again”.
"I wish we could ask him”, said I. "You can’t imagine how important it is. These badges show that who you father has saved could really be him”.
"That’s easy”, said Tom. "We’ll do it in no time. Martha! Martha!”, he called for his daughter.
"Yes, father”, a young girl appeared on the doorstep.
"Go to uncle Carlos, will you. Ask him if he still has the picture of our Eddy”
Martha returned swiftly. She entered gasping for breath with a picture under her arm. She moved to the center of the room and burning with curiosity showed me the picture.
Amazing! It was Antoine de Saint-Exupery himself. I gave a start and exclaimed "One of the greatest writers of the modern French literature has indeed been living with you for over forty years!”
The father and his daughter exchanged glances and looked at me with distrust. Paying no attention to their reaction, I asked them to show me Eddy’s grave. On my way there I picked up some flowers.
Soon a small hillock covered with grass was in front of me. A rough stone with carved "Eddy Reed” lay on top.
I laid my flowers at the gravestone with my heart pounding. These were the flowers on the grave of "The Little Prince” author!
Overcoming the emotions that rushed over me, I asked Tom to change the name on the stone. Tom scratched his head and said "We can change, no problem… But... maybe he just looks like your writer. Carlos is no Raphael, you know…”
© Ваагн Карапетян, 2015
Дата публикации: 2015-12-05 19:16:45
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Фрида Шутман [2017-01-09 15:32:44]
I liked your story-hypothesis very much!
Thanks a lot!
I have thought about that tragedy too...
Средиземное море/Фрида Шутман
Что ты прячешь в себе
И чему волны вторят?
Схоронило на дне,
И по чьей-то вине
Крепко спят корабли.
И в пучину ушёл
Не один Антуан:
Его душу читает