Isaac led the octopus down to the beach. “Thank you for your assistance,” the octopus said. “Now let’s swim around to the other side of the island. It will be easier for you to get to the next island on your map from there.”
“I don’t swim very well in the ocean,” Isaac admitted. “The waves get me all mixed up. I’m not really a strong swimmer to begin with. That’s why I need help getting to the next island.”
The octopus tapped his glass helmet. “I understand. I have a hard time getting around on land.” He looked out at the waves. “As exciting as discovery is, I suppose it’s best to be practical when we have a task to complete.”
Isaac looked out at the ocean, and then back at the octopus. “What do you mean?”
The octopus looked back at Isaac. “Isn’t it obvious? I’ll take the sea route and you take the land route. I have no doubt that I’ll reach the other side of the island before you. But have no fear, that will only give me time to arrange a solution to your difficulty.”
That made sense. “Thank you. I’ll see you there.”
The octopus scurried into the waves and disappeared. Isaac turned around. Which way to go? Right or left? It didn’t really matter. Both ways would take him there eventually.
But which was the easier path? He’d like to get there quickly. The path to the right was rocky and steep, but it was also shady at this time of day, which would be nice.
Isaac looked to the left. The path was shallow and flat and very sunny. It would be a much easier path to follow. Did that mean it would take longer to get there? He didn’t really want to spend any longer in the sun than he had to.
Easy and sunny or difficult and shady? Which one was longer? On the map, they looked the same. Isaac looked right, and then he looked left. And then he chose the right. It looked more difficult and less traveled-by, but the shade made all the difference. Too much sun gave him a headache.
Isaac picked his way carefully through the rocks, humming a tune to himself. The shady path grew darker as he walked around the side of the hill that led up to the sisters’ house. Sunlight filtered through the bushes high overhead and left dappled patterns at the edge of the path.
The wind blew and the bushes made a whispering sound. The patches of sunlight on his right danced. “Twinkle, twinkle, little sunbeams. How I wish I had some ice cream,” he sang to himself. He almost expected someone to join in, but the path was quiet except for the whisper of the wind.
Soon enough, Isaac was rounding the far end of the path and stepping back into the sunlight. The octopus was waiting on the beach. “You are fortunate,” he said.
The octopus waved an arm towards the water. It looked like there was a trail of things floating out there. “I was able to communicate with both my fellow octopodes and a traveling bale of turtles. We’ve built you a bridge.”
Isaac looked back at the water. He couldn’t see a bridge. “Is it invisible?”
“Of course not. Maybe you don’t see well at a distance. My research on human sight is rather limited. Try walking a little closer.” He made shooing motions with his noodley arms.
Isaac walked closer to the water. Up close, he could see that the floating things were bits of driftwood and turtles, all lined up, making a sort of path out to sea. “That’s the bridge?” Isaac was pretty sure he was too heavy to walk on a turtle bridge.
“Oh good, you can see it now. Well, hop on!” The octopus waded into the waves.
Isaac followed him into the water and looked back. High above, he could see a wall of rosebushes. He turned back and swam towards the first bit of driftwood. Two octopuses were holding it in place, one on each end.
Isaac’s friend, still wearing his glass helmet, helped him climb up. Cautiously, Isaac stepped onto a large log. The octopuses behind him swam away with the driftwood. So far so good.
The turtle treading water ahead of him was waiting patiently. It was a big turtle, but it didn’t really look large enough to carry his weight. “Are you okay?” it asked.
“Just a little nervous,” Isaac said.
“No worries, then. Just a quick step and you’ll be onto the next. If you go quickly, you won’t even notice you’re not on land.”
“But won’t that make me more likely to fall?”
The turtle laughed. “I guess it depends on how good your balance is.”
“Just hurry up and go,” the octopus on Isaac’s right said. “We can’t hold you in place much longer like this.”
“Take it at a run,” the octopus on the left said. “On your mark, get set, go!”
Isaac started running.