Writing Wednesdays

I’m starting something new and I hope you’ll join me on the journey. Because I’m a writer & storyteller and I like to weave words together to create fiction stories, I thought that I’d dedicate Wednesdays to my fiction writing, either new writing prompts or posting something I’m considering resurrecting and revising.

Why do I want you to join me on the journey? Because I’d love to get some feedback on my stories. Let me know if something resonates with you or intrigues you or has no affect on you. All I ask is that you comment in a respectful way. Constructive criticism is invaluable to a writer; personal criticism is hurtful to all.

So, welcome to Writing Wednesdays.

serving God & others through writing
serving God & others through writing

Five More Minutes {working title}

“Just a little longer,” Mabel whispers hoarsely in the darkness, her words a plea and a prayer. “Five more minutes. Just five more minutes that’s all. I’m sure of it.”

With as deep a breath as she can take in, she begins reciting the words of a favorite song to herself, You Are My Sunshine. It is the lullaby her grandmother sang to her as a girl and the words comfort and soothe her in the eerie stillness that encloses her. She squeezes her eyes shut, picturing the wide open sandy beach behind her grandmother’s house. As the words fill the small space around her, she wraps her arms around herself. Her knuckles and fingers are scraped and bleeding from pounding on and clawing at the wood walls that surround her, that close in around her. Her muscles, cramped from being still for too long in a fetal position, how long she isn’t sure, ache to stretch.

But for this moment, she is at rest, stretched out in the soft sand, surrounded by warm, golden sunshine that glints and winks off the early morning waves and promises a hot, humid day ahead. A typical July summer day in Rhode Island. Her naked toes wiggle, burrowing into the sand as she watches a seagull float effortlessly against the blue sky. The gull dips then flaps, catching the breeze again, soaring higher until he is but a speck to her searching eyes. She turns her gaze to the shoreline. The tide is coming in. White-capped waves crest and race to the shore, stretching and thinning into fingers as they reach for her toes. They leave small rivulets behind as the water soaks into the sand and retreats, blending into the next waves. She marvels at the constancy. The timelessness. The endlessness of it all – the tide, the ocean, the sand.

She smiles to see that the waves are clear. There is no evidence of the red seaweed that chased her from the sea yesterday. Today, there is only the occasional green seaweed plant tumbling onto the shore. Looking toward the weathered red and white lifeguard chair, several small black rectangle-shaped seaweed pods stick up from the sand, their four wispy tendrils remind her of people exercising, their leg tendrils stuck in the sand, their arm tendrils stretching toward the sky. She can’t help but giggle at the sight. She feels her grandmother’s hand on her shoulder, points out the exercising pods and they exchange a look, remembering the time they came out to the beach as the sun inched over the horizon for yoga. It had seemed like such a hip and healthy thing to do, but after only a couple of easy warm-up poses, they abandoned their yoga and headed for breakfast at Jim’s Dock. Mabel’s grandmother hooked her arm through Mabel’s as they walked down the beach, pulling her close as they talked about Mabel’s coming junior year, the books they were each reading and what they planned to order at Jim’s.

Mabel absorbs the lightness of her grandmother’s touch, the sweet smell of talcum powder mixed with the low tide, the savory flavors of bacon and eggs and fried potatoes. She reaches out to her grandmother and her hand hits the roughly constructed wooden wall that surrounds her. The words of her song sink into the small, dark space. With limp fingers she traces the oval of a hard knot in the wall by her head, slowly following a grooved path leading from the knot toward her knees until she cannot reach it any more.

She tries to remember the next line of the song, wanting to feel her grandmother’s arm through hers. But there is only the confining empty darkness. She swallows down the memory, a ball of unshed tears hardened into bile in her throat. Once more she pounds on the rough surface with her tightly balled fists and pushes hard against the wood with her sneakers, willing it to bend, to break. It is she who breaks.

The song, she tells herself, go back to the song. She concentrates trying to finish the final verse but this time the words won’t come and when she squeezes her eyes shut she sees her fear like a kaleidoscope of colors swirling and shifting: orange, red, yellow, blue. She sees herself, wearing her khaki capris with her yellow and white t-shirt pedaling her bike to the beach, the wind tossing her reddish brown curls carelessly behind her. She has a sense of anticipation as she rounds the corner near the marsh because she can smell the salt air and hear the cry of the gulls. And then, she can see nothing. She doesn’t know if her eyes are open or closed because there is only blackness. She is surrounded by nothing. Her ragged breaths carry the smell of dirt and pine and sap through each cell of her being, and causing her to tremble and no amount of her strength can stop it.


3 thoughts on “Five More Minutes

    1. That’s a tough question, David. It’s fiction {based on a writing prompt about describing a place using sensory details}, but for me, fiction almost always weaves in memories either of people or places or echoes of experiences or moments, you know? So the Rhode Island beaches are familiar to me because I grew up there.

      But, it’s a fiction story.

      What did you think?

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