At first we saw very little that was recognizable; or each other for that matter. We had been scattered all up and down the beach and there was almost no wreckage to be found. But after two or three days we started to find each other.
We came together as a group and combed the beach near the high water mark to salvage what we could. There was some luggage and clothing but not much else. There were four of us altogether and for a long time we didn’t even speak. There were just no words. Language no longer mattered. What could you really say? We walked about in a daze for a week.
Hastings fashioned himself a spear and went off in search of something we could eat. I stayed with the others and helped to build a camp. It was just William Tinner and Laurent Papille and myself. We constructed one of those stick-shelters you find sometimes, where kids go to drink. A lean-to of driftwood and flotsam dug into the sand at the base of the high dunes. It was alright during the day but after dark it grew very cold and I had nothing but a skirt and a light jacket. And I had my purse, if you can believe that. I found it washed up on the beach. Laurent had an overcoat and, after much desperate searching, he also found his briefcase; which he never let out of his sight. I imagined it was filled with money or drugs but he never showed us what he had inside.
Tinner was obsessed with his wristwatch. He insisted on adhering to the rituals of time and dates. Hastings had on that ridiculous yellow suit. We all held onto something. I suppose we had to. Everything else was so strange. Like the way the plane just plummeted out of the sky on a clear, moonlit night. No loud bang, no smoke, no warning. We fell like a stone. And then there was the beach itself. The sand was strange. It was composed of such large grains. It was a beach of small stones and odd things.
On day fifteen we found what Hastings called the Temple. He discovered it on one of his failed hunting excursions, buried there in the sand like some sort of ruin. I’ll admit I was drawn to it. We all were. It was oddly familiar-looking and seemed to possess a power over us. We’d often go out to stand beside it. It made us feel safe and less lonely. We never spoke of it back at camp, nor did we ever make the decision to go to it. We’d just find ourselves standing there before it.
The only time we’d ever really talk is when we were gathered round the Temple. Hastings said it spoke to him. Tinner said it screwed with his watch. Laurent would just stand there and mumble with his eyes closed. He was the first one to lay his hands on it. He said that it felt like it was breathing. I didn’t know what that was about it but it wasn’t a sound or anything I could feel, not physically. It was more like a shadow of a memory, like a name you can’t recall, and in those first weeks all I could do was just stand there and look as if something would make itself known to me if I had enough patience. If I had enough faith.