Chapter 1- A Forgotten Shipwreck
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“Wake up... wake up... my lady...”
Someone was patting my cheeks. Whoever it was, they had rough hands and unless I opened my eyes, it didn’t seem like they were going to stop patting my cheeks. It hurts to open my eyes. My whole body is in pain and there’s an uncomfortable itching sensation in my throat that’s not going away.
My lungs feel heavy, my blood feels hot but I’m still shivering.
With a loud gasp, I felt my eyes snap open and my body racked as I coughed. I felt hands patting my back as I coughed and only when my vision became clearer did I notice all the water that came gushing out of my mouth.
I groaned in pain, putting a hand to my head as I turned my head to look at the sky.
Bright blue. What a beautiful colour... but the light hurts my eyes.
I heard someone sigh in relief and when I turned my gaze away from the sky I was met with the sight of a familiar yet unfamiliar man.
His hair was an ash brown, reminding me of the wet sand which we were both sitting on and the bright blue hues which were his eyes left both the sky and sea in shame. He was smiling at me, almost as bright as the sun. But why?
“Thank goodness you’re alright. You had me worried-”
“Who are you?” I asked, cutting him off.
He gasped. Putting a hand to his mouth as he stared at me with large, trembling eyes as if I had just murdered someone in cold blood.
“You-You don’t remember?” He questioned, shocked.
I only shook my head in reply.
“Do I know you?” I asked curiously, tilting my head to the side.
“My lady...” There it was again. Those blue eyes of his holding emotions for a stranger like me but this time it wasn’t relief that I saw in there depths. They were foggy with tears which held worry? But the question is, why is he worried?
“Your lady? Am I yours?” I asked yet another curious question.
“Oh, my dear lord...” In the short amount of time that I’ve known him, I learnt that he wasn’t very good at answering questions. We sat in silence for a while as he debated something in his head and when his eyes eventually lit up with his answer, I decided to try asking him again.
“So... do you know who I am?” This time, he smiled at me.
“Your name is Alexandria but everyone calls you Alexia... everyone other than me,”
“Alexia? Is that me?” He nodded.
“Then, who is everyone that you speak of? You said everyone calls me Alexia but I only see you, mister,” I politely asked. He didn’t answer.
“My name is Johnathon Marlowe. I work for you and I was on the ship with you when it sunk. Unfortunately, it seems that you and I are the only ones that survived...” He drifted off sadly.
“I don’t remember any of that,”
“It also seems that you’ve lost your memories after you hit that bolder, I am sorry for not being able to do much, my lady. For the time being though, we should learn to survive on this small island while we wait for help to come,”
I nodded in agreement and gifted him with a thankful smile.
“Thank you, Johnathon Marlowe,” I said.
He chuckled as I sent him a confused look. “Call me John. That was the nickname given to me by you and I have learnt to cherish it very much,” John? Did I call him John? I don’t remember.
I watched as John pushed himself off the sand and walked towards the shore and I didn’t say anything, I kept silent and simply stared at the surface of the ocean reflecting the brightness of the shining sun.
From my appearance to my age, from my favourite food to my favourite colour, I don’t remember anything. I don’t remember John or my parents. Did I even have parents? Or siblings? Or anyone? If I did, I wonder if they were worried for me right now. I wonder if they cared.
I’m an empty soul trapped inside an unfamiliar body with no recollection of anything or anyone, stranded on a deserted island with a man called John.
“Will I... ever get my memories back? Or will I always remain a stranger to myself?” I mumbled out, looking down at my hands which were clenching onto the wet fabric of my dress.
As if hearing my quiet thoughts, John paused in what he was doing and walked towards me, crouching down in front of me. Hesitantly, I looked up to meet his awaiting gaze and when I did, his lips tilted up in a warm smile and that simple smile was able to calm me down, even if it was just a little bit.
“You may feel like a stranger to yourself right now but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of everything. You can rediscover yourself, your favourite food, your favourite colour, you can find out everything about yourself again. I know,”
“How do you know?”
“Because you’re Alexandria, my precious friend,”
Raising his hand, he placed it on my cheek and I felt the warmth of his hand seep through my skin, only now realising that I was shivering from the cold water.
“I don’t know who Alexandria is,” I replied.
“We’ll find out. You have the rest of your life,” He chuckled and stood up, outstretching his hand out for me. I stared at his hand for a while before slowly grabbing it with my own hand and as he heaved me up onto a standing position, he pointed at something behind him.
“This box washed ashore from the shipwreck. It contains some of your clothes. We’ll hang them up to dry for now so you can wear them later but for now... let’s stay in the sun to keep you warm. You’re shivering like a leaf,”
I didn’t say anything as he took my other hand in his and rubbed our hands together, bringing my hands up to his mouth and breathing warm air onto them as if it would help in warming me up, it did.
“Do you know what you’re doing?” I curiously asked.
He stared at me, surprised but then coughed out a small laugh and nodded.
“Yes, I’ve undergone training for these sorts of situations. I’m an expert, don’t worry,” I wasn’t really worrying but I didn’t say anything to prove him wrong. He seemed like he knew what he was doing while I, on the other hand, am completely clueless.
“I’ll trust you, John,”
And for the first time, as the new Alexandria, I smiled a smile worth remembering for John.
My literal lifesaver, someone I would have died without.
We thought it would be days until help came but it never did.
Help never came.
And neither did my memories.
I was just a young girl, no older than 10 years but thankfully I had John with me because, without him, I surely would have perished. John himself was only 20 years of age but he was still quite experienced with the wildlife on this island.
Days turned to months and months turned to years and eventually, we had both lost hope.
John didn’t know exactly where we were located so he didn’t know in which direction to go when he built a raft and he didn’t want to endanger either of us so we decided to stay on the island but to be honest, I didn’t mind.
I got on well on the island. John was the only human I knew but I got along well with the animals. It was quite difficult to start a friendship with them but once we did, it was all good, even the crocodiles. John was good with knitting as well so as I grew up, he picked the cotton plants before making us some clothes. The clothes that had washed ashore were altered and cut up to make some shirts and pants for him, and one-piece dresses for me.
There were plenty of different fruits and vegetables that grew on this island so we didn’t go hungry. Mangoes were by far my favourite though.
John taught me many things about the world outside. All the Kingdoms filled with so many different things and all the different foods and so on. He taught me some self-defence, how to knit, read and write.
I liked studying with him. He made our lessons fun and understandable. Maths, science and English weren’t all. We moved onto Sociology, Psychology and Law too.
It was difficult since we didn’t have any books as a reference but I used the sand to write stuff on or the bark of a tree where I used a rock to carve stuff out.
Now, years later... we’re content with staying here.
“John. Do you have any family? Other than me?” I curiously asked him one night as we rested on the roof of the treehouse that we lived in and I had helped him build.
He hummed, arms tucked behind his head as he gazed at the stars. “Not really. I used to have a lover but she left me when I didn’t give her enough attention, my parents passed away when I was young so I was an orphan and I didn’t have any friends either. Studying was my escape, I was always studying, craving to learn more...”
“What’s a lover?” I asked.
He turned to stare at me and smiled, moving his hand to rest on my cheek. I smiled back.
“That’s a complicated question... A lover can be someone you cherish and care for with all your heart. You go to them with your problems and in return, they come to you with theirs,”
“So I’m your lover?” I smiled joyfully.
Coughing, he hit his chest as I patted his head in worry.
“No. I wouldn’t say you’re my lover?”
“Then, what am I to you?” I asked.
He was silent for a moment and moved his hands to rest behind his head again as he turned to look at the sky.
“Are you my father?”
“No. I’m only 25 Alexa,”
“Then a friend?”
He was silent for a minute.
“Yes. Me and you... we’re best friends,” I felt my heart leap in joy when he said that.
Not only am I his friend but I’m his best friend!
“I’m your best friend John,” I laughed, leaning back down as I gazed at the twinkling stars with him and he chuckled in reply.
“Yes, I’m your best friend, Alexa,”
“John...” I called tiredly as he picked me up in his arms and began to take us both off the roof.
“What is it, Alexa?”
“Do you believe in magic?” I questioned.
“That came out of nowhere,” He mumbled. “I don’t know, do you?”
“I don’t know,” I replied as he lay me down on the pile of leaves.
“There are myths in the world that magic does exist. The countries people live in were created by mages. They had magic that made land fertile and magic that made it rain. There are stories on how humans partnered with mages to live peacefully,” He explained, stroking my hair.
“Is it true?” I asked.
“I don’t know but it might be. Who knows? If mages were ever real, where are they now? Did they die out? Were they killed? It’s up to you to imagine what you want,” He smiled, leaning down to kiss my forehead.
“Now, that’s enough storytelling, go to sleep Alexa,”
And so, we both fell asleep in the warmth of each other’s embrace.
The next morning, we were doing our morning training.
“Come at me more seriously, Alexa! You have to fight me with the intention to injure me,” He shouted as I swung another punch at him which he easily dodged.
Spinning around, I got low, swinging my leg out to trip him off his feet but he backflipped away effortlessly before running at me, fist raised for a punch.
I ducked, moving my hand forward where I finally landed a good punch on his abdomen and he stumbled back. Taking that opportunity, I jumped forward, using my knee to dig it into his stomach and he finally fell down.
Smirking, he got back up leaving me no time to cheer and as I got ready to dodge, I gasped when he leaned down, gripped onto either side of my waist and pulled me up.
I was surprised as my hands quickly moved to clutch onto the fabric of his loose shirt as he twirled me around in the air.
I breathlessly gazed down at his eyes which were shining with pride.
Not being able to hold back, I laughed loudly which seemed to cause him to laugh too and as he put me back down on my feet, I pushed forward to hug him.
He stood rigid for a second but I felt him relax as he hugged my small body back, stroking my brown locks as he did so.
“You did well, Alexa. I’m proud of you,” I felt my heart leap in joy at his words and only hugged him tighter.
“So what do you say we go have some breakfast. I’m starved,” He said, pulling away from the hug as I energetically nodded along to the idea.
Only, before we could go get some food, the sound of a faint voice could be heard shouting not far from the island.
It was quiet, and for a moment I thought it may have just been the wind but when I felt John’s hand go slack in mine, I knew that what I heard was right.
Once Upon A Crown is back and it’s ten times better than before. With fewer grammatical errors, plot holes and an extended storyline, this version of the book is much more thrilling than the previous one.
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Happy reading :)