There are a few things you need to know about me before I start the story.
I am Elizabeth Andrews, and I am eleven years old. I do not go to school, and that is because I live in the Amazon Rainforest.
We have lived there ever since our plane ride home from Australia. As we were flying over Venezuela, our plane had a malfunction and crashed. Everyone but my family was killed in the accident. My family is Ma, Pa, Alexander, and me, Elizabeth.
Before we crashed, Ma worked in a South American restaurant, so she knows how to treat and cook the plants and animals we find in the forest. Pa was an architect, so he built our hut out of trees from the forest.
Even Alexander is good for something. He’s great as whittling, so he made things like our silverware, cups, and anything else that can be whittled. He is thirteen, and I think it’s cool that he can whittle so well.
I don’t know what I’m good for. Whenever I think about it, all I can settle on is writing. Whenever I go on a plane trip, I bring a bunch of journals in my suitcase. I document every little thing that I see in the rainforest. If I find a pretty flower or interesting leaf, I usually sketch or close it in my nature journal. I even have a book for drawings, though I’m not a very talented artist.
Our plane crashed when I was only seven, so we have been here for four years.
Miraculously, nothing happened to any of our luggage in the crash. That’s why we have regular clothes in the middle of the Amazon. Ma washes them, so we can wear them over and over again.
I really hope that we don’t go back to civilization, because I most likely would not remember anything about New York City.
We sleep in hammocks that Ma and Pa made out of these huge leaves. They are actually pretty, pretty comfortable!
I actually really like living in the Amazon Rainforest. The only problem about it is that we have to be careful about what we eat. There are lots of poisonous plants, but also we can’t cook a baby animal. If we did, then Ma would find out and be mad at us.
Sometimes, I have random memories of the crash. When it actually happened, it went by so quickly that I could barely remember it for a while. Once I realized that the only way to remember was to get to work helping my family, my mind was still blank as a piece of paper.
That is almost everything you need to know about me for the story to make sense. When the plane crashed, all of the passengers but me and my family were killed. All of their luggage was really ruined, but ours didn’t even have a single scratch. Also, every member of our family was in different aisles.
Chapter One and a Half
I looked out of the window, seeing the tops of trees. “Ma, how much longer?” I asked.
She looked at her watch, and then at the screen on the back of the seat in front of her. “About twelve hours, Elizabeth.”
All of a sudden, we felt a huge jolt. Out of instinct, I looked out of the window. “Ma?” I asked, my voice shaking. “Either those trees are growing really fast, or… ”
“WE’RE FALLING OUT OF THE SKY!” a man yelled.
Even though I was only a seven-year-old writer and traveler, I was smart enough to know that it was fine to be scared right now.
I heard the pilot yelling very unsettling things, like: “The radio’s down!” “The engine’s busted!” “The controls are stuck!” and “Dang plane!”
I closed my eyes to shut myself out of the chaos and terror.
My whole entire life flashed before my eyes. The first day of kindergarten, I was crying and holding onto Ma. The start of first grade, hugging Ma goodbye. The beginning of second grade, dodging Ma’s kiss and running over to my friends. The end of second grade, posing for pictures. So far, nothing significant had happened to me. I then realized that if I died in the next ten minutes, my life would be a big waste of seven years. Then, I opened my eyes. As far as I could tell, no time had passed since I’d closed them.
Chaos was erupting in that small airplane that seemed like the end of me. All of a sudden, the overhead lights flickered and then went off. Then the overhead bins popped open and a few of the smaller suitcases and bags fell out. All of the people who were in aisle seats now leaned in and lifted their legs.
I put my face in between my knees and when I lifted it up, my knees were wet. I then felt my cheeks and realized tears were rolling down them. I took a deep breath.
Soon, I heard a crash that nearly deafened me. I looked out the window and saw both wings caught on trees on either side. The plane seemed to be too heavy; I saw it gradually sagging.
All of a sudden, the wings snapped off the plane, and we tumbled to the ground.
And then the world went black.
I dropped down from the tree I was in, and grabbed Ma’s woven basket that I had filled with fresh mangoes from the tree. I hurried back through the trees I had known so well. Once I was only a little ways away from our hut, I stopped and listened to the sounds of the rainforest. A few different birds chirped, a limb on a tree cracked, and I heard Pa yelling for me.
“Come on, Sammy, there’s more over here!” I heard a man yell.
Wait… That’s not Pa or Alexander… I quickly sprinted away from the voices I didn’t recognize. Once the hut was in sight, I dropped the basket of mangoes and ran to Pa.
“Pa!” I yelled.
“Oh, Elizabeth, there you are. Where is that basket of fruit you were going to bring back?” I don’t think he noticed the sweat on my forehead. I tried to slow my fast breathing and panting.
I said, “I heard a man talking to another person named Sammy.”
Pa laughed. “Do not be silly, Elizabeth. There is no one here but us.” Then, he left the hut, grabbing his handmade axe. I stood there, feeling dejected.
Later, when I was collecting berries for Ma, I heard a different voice. “Jim, the sun’s going down. Can’t we just camp here?” This time, it was a woman. “This is ridiculous!” I guessed that it was Sammy.
I grabbed the basket of berries I had filled and raced back to the hut. When I arrived, I saw Ma and Pa sitting at the table.
“Ma, Pa!” I exclaimed. “I heard more voices. It was a man and a woman.”
I looked back and forth between them. Ma walked forward and took the basket of berries in my hand.
“Well, Elizabeth, this is a very… interesting matter, but can we eat supper now?” She put her hand on my golden brown cheek. “Nobody is here but us, love. I don’t think you got enough sleep last night.”
She sent me to an early sleep, but instead, I ran away from the hut and far into the trees. I found one that I could easily climb, and I did. I sat atop the highest branch and looked at the sunset. The place where the orange melted into that blue, blue sky was a gorgeous pink. The colors looked like someone had painted strips with lumpy acrylics and smudged it with their finger. I closed my eyes and laid my head against the thick tree trunk.
Images of myself growing up flooded my mind. Baby Elizabeth, toddler Elizabeth, first smile, starting daycare, and everything up until second grade ended.
There was no more to think about. All the other significant events were trapped in a lost, locked box in the back of my mind, and they were never going to be released. Each year that passes, that box is going to get bigger and bigger.
I opened my eyes only to discover more darkness. The sun had gone away completely, and I couldn’t see the hut. I quickly jumped down the tree and ran in the direction I thought I came from. But then I found nothing. I ran in the other direction, but again I found nothing. Then I ran back in the way I thought I would find the tree, but instead I saw a dim light, and I expected it to be coming from the hut. I ran toward the light, and it got brighter as I got closer.
All of a sudden, I came into a clearing that was the source. Instead of our hut, I saw a campfire with two small tents. On a long log, there was a man in a tan shirt and tan shorts. There was also a woman in a matching wardrobe. He stared, seeming as surprised to see me as I was him.
“Jim, it’s a girl!” the woman said.
The man, Jim, said, “I see, Sammy. There must be a whole family of them.”
Sammy and Jim stood up, and then they approached me slowly. “Slow, Jim. We don’t want her to attack. She probably can’t speak.”
Then, Jim slowly said, “Hola. Us, Jim.” He pointed to himself. “And Sammy.” He pointed to Sammy.
“I can talk, but I don’t speak Spanish,” I said.
Both Jim and Sammy flinched and did double takes, fighting hard not to laugh.
Chapter Two and a Half
When I first opened my eyes, I didn’t know where I was. All I could think about was Alexander, only nine at the time. The first thing I did when I woke up was cry out, “Alexander!” Then, I sat up.
The sight that I saw was the most awful thing I had seen. The ruins of the plane were all around me. I couldn’t see any bodies, but I already knew they were all gone. Then, a pile of rubble stirred, and Alexander appeared from under it.
“Hello?” he yelled.
“Alexander,” I called. He looked over.
“Elizabeth, are you hurt?”
“No, are you?” I said.
“My legs are stuck under the seat,” he said.
I stood up and made my way over to him. I helped him lift that blue ripped leather seat. He stood up with me, and we looked around. We held onto each other, and I was trying hard not to sob.
Suddenly, I heard Ma’s voice, muffled. “Hello? Anybody?”
Alexander and I hurried over to the voice. “Mom! It’s Elizabeth and Alexander!” I called.
“Children, let me out please. I am under this pile of clothes,” she said. A suitcase had popped open and spilled on her. All the clothes were dirty and ripped. Once we had moved the clothes, we walked around looking for Pa.
As Ma was stepping on the rubble and trash, Pa’s voice yelled, “Ow! Where are we? What happened?” We dropped to our knees and dug through the mess. Soon, we found him. “Who stepped on my arm?” he said. None of us answered. “Are you guys alright?” We all nodded and fell into a long hug.
I finally broke the silence by saying, “What do we do now?” We all sat there, but the question wasn’t letting me think about my family. Would we ever get home? Would we be stuck here forever?
Jim and Sammy offered me a piece of meat. I told them about my family in the forest.
“How did you get here?” Sammy finally asked.
So I told them about the crash, that the only survivors were me and my family, and how our luggage escaped without a scratch.
Sammy’s last question was, “How long have you been here?” She looked a bit worried about what the answer would be.
“We’ve been here four years. I was seven when we crashed, and now I am eleven.” Sammy then came forward and embraced me with a hug. “It’s fine, I really like it in the rainforest,” I said. She didn’t seem to believe me. So then I pushed Sammy away gently and told them both, “I have to go. My family is going to be waiting.”
This wasn’t true, because I had snuck out of a window in my sleeping area, but I knew my family wouldn’t bother to have checked on me. Then I ran away, and not long after, I found my hut. I was right, my family didn’t know I had been gone. I decided not to tell Ma and Pa about Jim and Sammy, because they would tell me that I was wrong.
I got into the hammock and fell into a light sleep. My family had never even known I had left.
The next morning, I wrote in my article journal that I keep. In that journal, I pretty much just write every few weeks in a journalism style. It’s fun. Then, I walked over to Ma and Pa.
“Ah, Elizabeth,” Pa said.
Then, Alexander walked in. “Ma, do you need me to do anything for you?”
“No, I do not need you. Alexander, don’t work yourself ragged. Take a break from all of this work,” Ma told him.
“But then, I will have no choice but to think about the airplane crash!” he exclaimed.
“Do you mean that you haven’t thought about it yet?” I asked.
“No, and I really don’t want to.”
“Well, you can’t hide forever. Just go and do some whittling,” I advised.
He grabbed his tools and sat outside of the hut. I shook my head to myself and picked up a piece of fruit Ma had laid out. Then, I hurried out to the river with one of Pa’s fishing nets. The net seemed so much smaller when compared with the rushing water. So I tossed it out over the rough waves and sat down with my journal.
This was my drawing book, so I drew a line down the middle of the page. Then, I added a circle. Then many more shapes, until I had a big structure in the shape of something else. I couldn’t remember what it was, but I knew it would mean something.
Suddenly, as a fish leapt out of the water, I snapped out of my trance. Once I had looked up, I realized it was two fish. Then, they touched each other in the air before falling onto the net. I thought of the shape my design had made. A heart.
I picked up the net and hurried back to the hut. Once Ma had the fish cooking in the oven, I suddenly heard a gruff voice call, “Come on out. We know you are in there.”
I felt my heart start beating a million miles an hour. What’s going on? Who is that? How did he find us? I thought frantically.
We all hurried to stand outside the hut.
“Gather your belongings,” an officer said. His uniform was covered in medals and badges.
“What’s going on?!” I asked.
“Get in that helicopter, you’re coming back to civilization.”