She barely dared to say the words she hoped for herself. Would David be there? If he knew her name was drawn at vespers, he barely would have had enough time to cross the tombolo in the evening low tide to wait for her. If he was there, they would stay through the night and return to Prima the next morning as a married couple according to island tradition. Hope for love. She breathed it out, the salt tang biting her throat as she continued on the tombolo.
The deep orange and gold that had filled the morning sky faded to blue as Gemena reached the end of the tombolo and stepped onto Speranza. She could see the glint of red among the green leaves of the beatta trees, and she breathed a sigh of relief. She would return home with a full basket to support her family.
The shelter stood at the edge of the grove, and it looked sturdy and well-kept. She walked over and dropped her basket in the sand, shuffling her feet until she found the rope handle to the shelter’s hidden supplies. She brushed off the sand with her feet and pulled up the thick-woven reed door to reveal neatly stacked bottles of water and sealed containers of food. Relieved, she pulled out her own bottle and drank the last of the water she had brought with her.
Shielding her eyes again, she looked around. Speranza was small enough that she could see the entire island from here. There was no sign of…her heart sank and she dropped her hands. But as she turned back to her basket, she heard a rustle in the beatta grove. There were no animals on Speranza. Looking up with surprise, Gemena saw David walk out of the trees with a full basket of beatta fruit. His smile lit his face, and she felt hers do the same. Weak with relief, she waited for him to reach her side. He held out the basket and laid it at her feet.
David stood in front of her and cupped her face in his rough palms. He kissed her tenderly, then hugged her tightly. She clung to him, dizzy with happiness, desire, and new hope for their future. He leaned down and picked up her empty basket. “Let’s go fill this together, shall we?”
Unable to speak, Gemena nodded happily and took his free hand as they walked into the beatta grove to begin their life together.