“Reflections on the Plane Crash” – Anon.

This is offered anonymously by a firefighter of the Saturna Island Volunteer Fire Department:

When we went out that night to search along the shore of Lyall Harbour for any sign of possible survivors no-one thought that there was any serious chance of success. But it had to be done, of course, and not just as a formality. We had to discipline ourselves to believe that as we fanned out and covered each segment in turn, shining lights into the dark recesses under decks and combing through the bush as thoroughly as we could, calling out as we went, that someone might answer, some movement might be seen. It was a discipline, but it was eerie too: it felt to me almost as though belief could fulfill itself; that despite the desperate unlikelihood of anyone who’d survived the crash having climbed fifty to a hundred feet up a slope so steep it was too dangerous for us to go down on it, despite the wind and the tide and everything else, some call might be answered, my light might reveal what we were looking for.

At one point I saw a small deck, a platform, downhill from where I was searching, I called to my companions that I was going down there to look. It was steep, but there was a path, quite safe, and when I got down there I found that I had an unobstructed view of the harbour, over which the big military helicopter was circling, the beam of its powerful searchlight moving steadily along the shore, the roar of its engine coming and going as it circled.

And high above, a huge bright moon shone down and illuminated the ruffled surface of the water. The wind blew steadily. I looked down, straight down over the deck railing I was leaning on, and called, as I must, into the relative quiet after the helicopter had passed.

But there was no answer, as I knew there would be no answer. Only the wind, and the moon, and the cold rippling water. The awful beauty of the world.