Jessie and the Floating Island


On the island of Maui, at the farthest end of the island, is a little house. To get there, you have to follow a little trail through the jungle, past thickets of green leaves and tangled vines, over a smoky mountain of black rock, and along a thin path over the water until you find the beach. The little house sits just off the beach, and the family inside is very happy. Every day, the dad and his two older sons go out into the jungle to collect the fruits and nuts they all like to eat. The mom weaves clothes from little leaves and bakes loaves of nutty bread. Outside, a little girl plays cheerfully in the sand. At least, she should be cheerful.

Every day, the little girl (whose name was Jessie) begged her dad to go into the forest with him and the two brothers. Every day, her father laughed and shook his head.

“You are too little, sweetheart. When you tried to pick the coconut, it would squish you underneath it! Girls stay home and help their mothers cook and sew,” he would say.

“Stay and play in the sand, sweetheart,” her mother would say.

Jessie would sigh a heavy sigh and go out to the beach. Handful by handful, she would let the sand run between her fingers while she stared at the calm bay. Nothing ever changed. The water never grew rough, the weather never grew cold, and Jessie never got to go into the jungle with her dad and brothers.

One day, as Jessie was staring at the ocean like this, she noticed something odd. There was something glittering in the water of the bay. Kicking off her shoes, Jessie waded out into the cool salt water. Underneath, on the sand, lay a shiny seashell. It seemed to glitter with its own light. Jessie held her breath and dove under to get it.

Out of water, the shell was just as pretty as it was in the cove. Sometimes shells look prettier only when they are wet, but not this one. Jessie wandered into the house, staring at it.

“Oh, that’s a wishing shell, sweetheart,” her mother said. “Whisper your wishes to it and sleep with it under your pillow. The wishes will come true!”

That night, Jessie whispered to the shell. “I wish I could show my mother and father that I am big enough to go help in the jungle,” she told it. Then she slid the sparkling shell under her pillow and fell asleep.

When she woke up in the morning, she saw nothing different. Her father still wouldn’t take her along with her brothers. Her mother was still baking coconut bread in the kitchen. And the sun was still shining through the window.

Jessie sighed and headed out to the beach like always, but when she got there, she couldn’t believe her eyes. There in the bay was a tiny island! Jessie ran to the water nad started swimming it felt like she swam forever, but she finally got there. The odd thing was, the island was floating like a raft. She had to pull herself up onto it, and it bobbed in the water when she did so.

This would only be better if the island were out on the sea, she thought. To her surprise, the island began to move steadily out of the bay. Soon the island was barely visible. This will show them I can do anything! Jessie thought proudly. But then Jessie saw something not good. Something not good at all. Heading towards her little floating island was a big wall of clouds, angry with lightning. Jessie started to feel a little scared, but she had an idea.

Jessie steered her little island back into the bay, all the way to the beach. She started piling sand beneath the end until it was standing high in the air. By this time her father was home. He laughed at her. But he hadn’t seen the storm yet.

That night, during dinner, the storm hit Maui and great waves rolled across the quiet little bay. The only thing that kept them from washing away the happy little house was the island Jessie had shored up on the beach.

In the morning, the family walked outside and looked at how the storm had damaged the jungle by the beach.

“It’s a good thing you took care of us, sweetheart,” Jessie’s dad said to her with a big hug. After that, Jessie went into the jungle every day with him and the two brothers. Finally, everyone in the little house was happy.

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