Kunal had forgotten his past. He had forgotten building an airplane of balsa and dropping it into the air. He had forgotten running through a tunnel made of the bent arms of flowering trees, running until he tripped and cut open his chin and cried like the boy he was then. He had forgotten his mother and father, his grandmother and his two sisters. And God; of course, he had forgotten God. But above all he had forgotten the concept of dry. He was dunked and salted like a bean in brine, and if it were possible, even more insensate.
For twenty hours Kunal had been floating in the ocean, fingers frozen around the metal body of a defunct communications satellite which had fallen back to earth, he supposed, after becoming obsolete. He should be grateful that the H.M.S. Verizon had found him at all. If rarities constitute miracles, he had experienced two: his plane falling into the sea, and an hour later, the satellite knocking him in the hips as what he had expected would be his last pint of salt water forced its way into his lungs. He could expect no more luck, of any kind.
But at hour twenty-nine, one more miracle appeared. The satellite struck land. Or was it land? Kunal opened his chapped and sunburned eyes and squinted in the pre-dawn glow at a giant reef. The satellite had snagged in its borders and now bobbed slowly within it, a foreign object being absorbed. Kunal laughed, a sound like sandpaper rubbing metal, and rolled from the satellite onto land. He laughed because it was a land he had read about in the newspaper the week before. It was an island of trash: plastic shopping bags, bottles, and toy packaging, gathered from thousands of miles of littered shorelines by sea currents. And now Kunal and the Verizon were two more pieces of refuse cobbled into its mass.
In a little over a day, Kunal had tired of miracles. His old life was gone: one. Yet he did not die: two. And three: it was the laziest element of human nature that had saved him. He yearned for nothing more than to evade further adventure, to just live, to go on through time and perhaps one day remember trees and balsa wood and grandmothers, when it would be safe to do so. He opened a plastic bottle marked with some kind of writing–maybe Chinese?–and a logo of a blue wave. He drank its leftover half cup of sweet, unsalted, though hot and stale, water. And then he fell asleep, smiling. He dreamed, and dreaming, he began his second life.