Hope for Rapa Nui?

Rapa Nui is the island I call home. Although today it is desolate, Grandfather tells us stories of when our island was lush and full of trees and crops to feed the thousands of inhabitants. When I drift off some days, I imagine myself running through the forest and rolling along the log pathways and standing strong next to the proud Moai, looking over our flourishing island. However, going outside my family’s hideaway is forbidden, the trees are gone and the once lumbering stone statues are sinking into the ground with nothing but shame to oversee.

Inspired by my grandfather’s stories of this beautiful island, I escaped one night to experience its beauty for myself. When I stepped outside, the land was barren. I could see nobody and nothing nearby, so I thought it would be safe to venture out further. Feeling my feet against the strong, rocky ground made me feel a connection with my ancestors who worked so hard over this land. Drawn to the bright moon in the distant, reflecting off the vast Pacific ocean, I slowly moved toward it before being snatched from my trance.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUTSIDE??” yells my mother as she dragged me faster than any speed I have ever experienced. “THEY’RE GOING TO EAT YOU!!”

“Who is going to eat me, Mama?” I inquire, but there is no response as my mother is focused on getting us back to the hideaway. I see shadows of beasts beginning to chase us and shout, “PREY! PREY! PREY!”, repeatedly, but I could not depict what the creatures were.

That night was the first and only time I had heard my parents talk about the tree that ended it all. After decades of using trees for moving the Moai and making rope and other daily Rapa Nui tasks, there was one tree left standing. The chiefs of the island told the inhabitants that the Gods would replenish the trees and save the people from all their troubles if they built the Moai. Much debate had stirred amongst the island about the final tree. Should they chop it down and use it for its resources? Or let it live and have that tree spread its seeds to grow a new forest?

The tree was cut, and after not much longer there was chaos on the island. There were no more crops to be grown and no more trees to use, and the island was devastated. Islanders began to break all law and eat the others to save themselves from starvation. Our people became animals, with no human instincts. This is why my family lives in the hideaway.

We have lived on small rations of food and deep soils that still hold some nutrients, but we are running low. I know we need to find a new food source, but it is dangerous outside and my family is afraid.

Tonight I will leave our home. I will be more careful than when I was a child and I will go to the ocean. From there I will find a new island and make a safe home for my family.

As I step out of the hideaway quietly, the coast is clear and the ocean is just as beautiful as I remembered, and the moon is just as bright as I remembered and the ground feels just as rugged and stable as I remembered.

“PREY! PREY!” I hear as I try to run, but I feel a sharp claw around my foot and I fall. This beast is not a human, but it is too late for me to warn my family as I see them appear out of the hideaway as I drift out of consciousness.