Matt had gone away to college at Dalhousie and will begin teaching the following September. He had left behind his high school sweetheart, Rita, but is now back for the summer. In the meantime Rita married a loser, had a son, got beat up, divorced, returned home to live with her parents.
I like the way the story moves the reader's sympathies from Matt to Rita. At first Rita appears to be nothing but trouble for Matt and that his love is misplaced but then we gradually learn that he left her and had his "own secrets thoughts too." He wanted to meet new people, "including girls." He broke her heart and had asked of her more than she was capable. Matt's mother manipulated her son's decisions and encouraged Matt to "get the first two years of study" before considering marriage.
Matt has completed his education and has a job lined up in Sydney. He comes to a decision that he thinks will solve all of their issues. The theme seems to be that all people are equally valuable with the right to live his/her life as they see fit.
The summer after college Matt works at a park doing manual labor and is allowed to give short talks about the cormorants, a big black bird, living and nesting in the park. He has a new found appreciation for animal life of all sorts, not just the precious endangered species. This is a nice metaphor for the way he has decided to follow through on his old promise to Rita.
"The Island" is included in the summer 2014 issue of Sixfold, an all-writer voted short story and poetry journal.
link to whole story at Sixfold
main web page for Sixfold