Promptly Special: Get Published in WD Magazine

Seven people board a small boat for a tour of the islands, but when the boat returns to the dock, only six people remain on board. —From The Writer’s Book of Matches by the staff of fresh boiled peanuts: a literary journal

Hey writers,

Quandary: In WD magazine, we’re typically cramped for open space, and I’ve gotten e-mails from some of you about how it’d be cool to publish a Promptly story in our pages. I agree, and rather than attempting to sleight-of-hand a piece in last minute when the editor is at the copy machine, I’ve got a solution: Your Story.

Essentially, Your Story is a recurring column in which we run a new prompt and, alongside it, a piece inspired by the previous issue’s prompt. WD editors read through the stories every magazine cycle, and then we post the top 5 on our forum so readers can select the winner.

Thus, in 750 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring, I invite you to post your stories in the comments section of this post, and they’ll be entered in the contest. (There’s only one entry allowed per person, and you have until the Oct. 10 deadline.) Should your story win, I’ll contact you for your name and mailing address when the time comes.

That said, we’re off, pizza in hand, to judge last month’s batch.

Looking forward to your stories, and hoping you had an excellent weekend,

Zachary

Also, if Promptly isn’t fulfilling all your insatiable prompt needs and you’re interested in The Writer’s Book of Matches (source of the prompt above), I gave it a peep, and it’s currently on sale in our online shop.

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  1. Lisa Lenderink

    "Campfires"

    “Seven people boarded a small boat for a tour of these islands, but when the boat returned to the dock, only six people remained on board,” Kenny says. He’s holding a flash light up to his face even though he’s well lit from the campfire between us.

    Next to me, perched perfectly on a log, Katie chokes on her beer and laughs. “This is your scary story?”

    Kenny’s face melts a little, as if the flames have grown too warm. But his features soon harden with determination. “They say this island was the boat’s last stop.” His tone is adorably menacing.

    Honestly, I have a crush on Kenny – which is ridiculous because I hardly know him. He would never go for a girl like me, but I can’t help myself. Plus, this atmosphere makes it worse – the waves collapsing barely ten feet away, the stars gawking and the sand between our toes. So romantic.

    However, there are six of us around the campfire. Chris and Leah are making out to my left, Garret is in his own awkward world next to Kenny, and Katie is between Garret and I. They’re all here on their high school graduation trip. I, on the other hand, live on this island. I met them a few hours ago, and have since counted each second as sacred.

    Kenny goes on. “About eighty years ago, a family rented a boat to tour these very islands; a set of grandparents, parents, and three children – June, Bobbie, and Eddie.” He pauses dramatically and Leah fills the quiet with giggles as Chris kisses her again.

    “So disgusting,” Katie mutters. Then she turns her attention back to Kenny as he continues.

    “June, who was seventeen, and her older brothers were up before the sun the morning of their departure from the last island.” He pokes at a log, sending cracks and snaps through the stillness. “They were walking on the boat deck…when suddenly…Bam! – ” Kenny claps his hands together, making us all jump – “something huge popped out of the water!” He stands, arms high in the air like a palm tree. “The creature moaned loudly and scared June and her brothers so badly that they all froze.

    “Then,” he goes on, “the creature leapt forward and grabbed June before her brothers could do anything about it!” He acts it out with wide, imposing gestures, making me want to applaud him.

    After a long second he sits back down, spotlighting his face again. “The creature dragged her away and she was never seen again. The family searched for days, but eventually had to leave…without June…” He turns his flashlight off. We are all silent.

    Katie chuckles. “That’s it?” She swigs her beer and looks around. “Does anyone have a good story?”

    My heart snaps in two when I see Kenny’s face. Clearly he wants to impress her. I’m impressed, I almost tell him.

    Much to my relief, Kenny gets over Katie’s remark soon enough and they start talking about graduation. As they banter, I watch Kenny over the campfire. The swaying warmth makes him a mirage. I think about how animated he was a minute ago and I chuckle softly. But when I do, Kenny looks at me.

    “What was that?” Kenny asks; eyes wide and still.

    I glance around me and everyone else is frightened too.

    Oops, time to go.

    As I walk away, I resist the urge to slap Katie because Kenny actually did tell the story well. Yes, a girl died. Yes, someone killed her, but it wasn’t as dramatic as Kenny made it to be.

    Here’s the real story in a very tiny nutshell. My story. My name is June. I am – and forever will be – seventeen years old. Most people think I drowned, but really, my brothers strangled me and threw me overboard. They’d always hated me, so I wasn’t too surprised. Anyway, I was still conscious when I hit the water, so I swam to shore and – because this was a deserted island back then – I didn’t officially die until three days later from dehydration and starvation. It was a brutal and lonely death, but I’m over it. Kenny’s right; it’s been eighty years.

    Don’t feel sorry for me. I may be trapped on this island forever, but I keep myself busy. My favorite pastime? Sitting invisibly around campfires, listening to different versions of the story of my demise.

    Kenny’s is by far the best.

  2. Beth Cato

    Grandpa’s Girl

    Grandma sat on the deck, a white shawl wrapped around her frail shoulders. Waves lapped against the sides of the boat, and all around us was nothingness – sheer blue nothingness, from the endless darkness of the sea to the sprawl of cloudless sky.

    “Grandma,” I whispered.

    Her head tilted towards me. A hand wiry with sinew and age hooked my forearm.

    “Lisa. Is it beautiful?”

    “Yes, Grandma. But it’s scary, too. It just doesn’t end, does it?”

    “No.” Her lips pursed together. “Out this far, it doesn’t. Makes Grandpa’s stories seem very real, doesn’t it?”

    I looked around across the dips and divots of ocean. “Yeah. Where is he?”

    “He’s downstairs with your Aunt Pam. Leave them be. Pam always had a weak stomach, and she doesn’t need an audience.”

    I nodded. Made sense to me. The captain walked by us, whistling, and gave me a wink. I grinned back. He’d slipped me some lemon drops earlier, and the sticky rot remained on my teeth.

    I headed towards the front of the boat and clutched the railing with both fists. It was exhilarating out here. Wind, sun, water. Mom always said I was Grandpa’s girl, and I took after him in a lot of ways, like how I could eat the hottest salsa or whistle just so and have song birds reply in harmony. And Grandpa, he loved the sea, even as he hated it. He told me all the stories about his days in the war and how his battleship had gone all over the Pacific. Those hard times made him a better man, he said.

    My parents chatted somewhere behind me. We had to be getting close. The captain told us it would be a four or five hour trip out, and it was nearing that. The wind whirled hair loose from my ponytail, and a tendril whipped across my face.

    “Lisa,” I heard Mom say, and I turned. “You need to put on your sun block.”

    “But Mom –“

    “You’re not going back home looking like a lobster, not with all the risk of skin cancer. We’ve had enough of cancer in this family.” A slight sniff ended her sentence.

    I couldn’t argue, not when Mom was trying so hard not to break down. She pulled the tube from her satchel and slathered me down again.

    “Well folks,” the captain said. “We’re about there according to the GPS. I’ll cut off the motor so we can drift here for a few minutes. Do what you need to do. No rush.”

    I knew it, I knew we had to be there. Even with all this nothingness, I just felt it somehow. I slipped from Mom’s greasy grip and scrambled over to Grandma.

    “Grandma, did you hear? Can I go and get Pam and Grandpa, please?”

    “I’m blind, not deaf,” she said in mock exasperation. “And yes, go get them.”

    My sandals tapped a beat down the stairs. The little living room and kitchenette were empty. A moan came from the bathroom.

    “Aunt Pam! We’re there.”

    Another moan answered. “Okay. Give me a minute.” She staggered out, white-faced.

    “Where’s Grandpa? Can I-“

    “Yes. But go slow and careful, please.” Her shaky hands delved into her oversized purse and pulled out a large silver urn.

    She didn’t need to tell me. I wasn’t going to take a risk, not with Grandpa in my hands. I took each step with reverence. My parents and Grandma and the captain stood out on the deck, staring into the water. I joined them and pondered the depths, but as hard as I tried I couldn’t see the ship that rusted away somewhere below us.

    “Give it to your grandma,” Mom murmured.

    Grandma’s hands clutched the curves of the urn. “Frank,” she said, voice trembling. “Here we are, back where you wanted to go. Back to your shipmates. We love you. Thank you, God, for giving us fifty blessed years.” She released her hold, and the urn dropped into the sea and was swallowed without a splash.

    “Was she supposed to drop the whole thing?” I heard Dad mutter.

    All those hours Grandpa had floated alone out here on a hunk of debris, baked by the sun and circled by sharks as he waited for rescue. Here we were, on a comfortable cruise. I couldn’t feel sad. We existed. Grandpa made that possible.

    “Thanks, Grandpa,” I whispered to the waves. The wind dried salty spray and tears on my cheeks, and I smiled.

  3. Katherine Golder

    When I was fourteen years old, one of my best friends got addicted to heroin. Shortly after, he was sent to a rehabilitation facility across the country and my family moved out of the state. We lost touch for almost two years. When I was sixteen I went back to Phoenix to visit and ended up running into him on a walk around my old neighborhood. The following story is what took place in the drive after he asked me to take him downtown to his NA meeting.
    He didn’t look any different.
    The blue fiberglass door of my mom’s Subaru opened and shut with a dissatisfying clunk as he got into the passenger seat.
    “Thanks for the ride.” he mumbled, his voice considerably deeper than I’d last remembered. “I couldn’t take it. You know?”
    I nodded and gave him the sympathetic smile that every teenager has given to a friend who has complained about a parent.
    He didn’t look any different.
    I twisted the knob on the radio, vaguely surprised that my fingers automatically turned to our old favorite station.
    He sank back into his seat. Neither of us said a word. His shirt was black with long sleeves and despite the typical Phoenix summer weather I knew not to question. I turned on the air and he glanced my direction.
    I shrugged. “It’s been a while, man. It gets hot here now.”
    He looked back out the window and I stared ahead at the asphalt like the lack of acknowledgement would keep back the thoughts of when fun was a swing set and lava monster. Could he remember it too?
    His fingers fiddled with the end of his sleeve and my eye caught the tail of a small brown thread peeking out from under the black cotton. I knew what it was. I had a matching strand of withered knots and wooden beads in my dresser back home. I wondered if he’d kept it on all this time.
    He didn’t look any different.
    I turned into the parking lot and stopped next to an unmarked building that was sandwiched between a Dairy Queen and a grungy second hand store. The group of people standing in front looked like a shuffled deck of before and after photos from a low budget product brochure, and I briefly wondered which end of the spectrum he was on.
    He moved to the handle of the door, and I had a fleeting urge to say something. The plastic in the hinge snapped shut as he let the latch go. There was a pause. I felt the car shift as he leaned forward and pulled me into an awkward hug and I realized how long it had been since we used to talk about growing up.
    He let go and stepped onto the asphalt. “Thanks.” The left corner of his lip turned up in an almost half smile and I felt my head dip in a nod.
    I watched him shut the door and walk towards the group on the corner. He waved as I pulled out of the lot and drove away.
    Maybe he isn’t the one that’s different.

  4. T.R.

    “Island Tour”

    Six of them found it strange that they were touring this little known island on such a small boat. One of them didn’t. Six of them looked anxiously to the darkening sky and the increasingly restless waves. One of them kept a calm smile on his face. Perhaps the six wouldn’t have been so worried if the one wasn’t the captain.
    “Captain,” the man said angrily, “you’re leading us into a storm! Turn around!”
    The captain chuckled. “Peace, be still!” he said. The man rolled his eyes and walked away.
    “Captain, please,” said the mother, holding her frightened son close, “let’s stop somewhere and wait out the storm. We don’t feel safe.”
    The captain chuckled again. “Do you think I don’t have your best interests in mind? There’s nothing to worry about.”
    “Nothing to worry about?” the husband protested. “any storm could easily destroy this tiny boat and you’re driving us into a pretty huge one!”
    “We’ll sail through,” the captain said with an assuring nod.
    “Oh great,” the husband muttered.
    The waves grew more lively, rocking the boat from side to side.
    The young couple stumbled into the captain’s room, clinging to each other.
    “Captain,” said the boyfriend, “you have to stop. My girlfriend is sick!”
    “You are all sick,” the captain lamented, his voice cracking as though he were about to cry, “so very sick. But I am steering this boat; you will live.”
    The boyfriend looked at the captain strangely; the two of them stumbled away.
    Thunder shook the small vessel; lightning lit up the sky and ocean around them in a mockery of daylight; but the captain kept sailing. Rain shot down, beating the backs of the travelers, who cramped themselves inside with the captain; but he kept sailing. The storm lasted The girlfriend threw up on the deck, her head hanging out the door. When she pulled herself back in, her hair was dripping; the moisture soaked her clothes.
    The storm stopped; the ocean was still. The clouds that wrought chaos above them sunk down above the water, obscuring everything in a thick fog.
    “I told you there was nothing to worry about,” the captain said, smiling.
    No one responded. The boat crept silently and eerily along the water. Even the motor’s constant drone was muted by the fog.
    “We’re almost there,” the captain said gravely. “This is the most important tour you’ll ever take.”
    “It’s important to tour an island we can’t even see? Why continue in this fog?” the man said bitterly, crossing his arms.
    “I have my reasons,” the captain said resolutely.
    The fog slowly tore open, creating a narrow path; up ahead was a dark island. The captain pulled ashore and let the people out.

    The man was alone amidst the dark palm trees.
    “Great. I get on this stupid boat, go to this stupid island, and the stupid captain gets us lost!”
    “Does that make you angry enough to kill?” A black suited man stood before him. The man realized that this suited man looked exactly like him.
    “W-What are you talking about?”
    “You’re finally free after all those years in a cell,” said the suited man. “Or are you?”
    “Shut up!” the man sank to his knees in despair.

    The mother and son started down a high cliff, holding each other closely. The wind blew; an image of a smiling man appeared in the abyss.
    “Daddy!”
    The image changed; the same man was bloody and mangled on the side of the road, his car totaled.
    “Why?” the mother cried; she and her son sank to their knees in despair.

    The husband sat cross-legged on the sand. Something rumbled beneath him; a man with a bloody face surfaced before him.
    “Are you good enough for my family?”
    The husband hugged his knees in despair.

    The girlfriend stared at her reflection in a waterfall. The distorted image came to life, smiling.
    “One hour of exercise per meal!” it laughed.
    The girlfriend sank to her knees in despair.

    The boyfriend stared at the ocean. A girl approached him.
    “You should run like you have been your whole life,” she whispered.
    He hugged his knees in despair.

    The captain lifted the man on his shoulders; he lifted the mother, the son, the husband; he lifted the girlfriend and boy friend; he carried them back to the boat.
    “Now you see what I see,” he said in despair.

    When the six were back home, there were only six. The captain was gone.

  5. Loveskidlit

    [Note: alternating paragraphs in italics.]

    Seven people board a small boat for a tour of the islands, but when the boat returns to the dock, only six people remain on board.

    One, two, three, four, five, six, seven people board a small boat for a tour of the islands. Two of them are lovers. Two of them are teenagers. Four are locals. One is the tour guide, also a local. Two of them are teachers, on summer break. One of them hates the ocean. There are seven people on a small boat, and one of them is a dead man walking; he just doesn’t know it yet. Three guesses which one I am.

    I watched them pile into the boat, a ragged couple tired of the heat and the bugs and the ceiling fans that don’t quite work. It’s written all over his sprawling shirt, her fraying straw hat. They’ve brought someone with them. Already I can feel nausea surge around the sweet potato I ate for ballast. I want off. Rod puts a thick hand on my knee but the bile rises anyway.

    It’s all about the math. Keep your eye on the prize. Nobody’s going to get off for a dive and get left behind. It won’t be that obvious. You’re going to have to count. Listen: seven people board a small boat for a tour of the islands. The two teenagers are not lovers. The teachers are not local, but they have met the tour guide before. My murder has been planned. Two people on board know all about it.

    I glance at Rod. He sits rigid, not at all like a tourist. This boat doesn’t go anywhere. He has to look interested in the sights. That’s why people do this, isn’t it? When I steal a peek at him I can see the dramamine seems to be working.

    One of the teachers is married to the one who hates the ocean. He is not a teacher. There are four men on the boat, and three women. Only three people are interested in the sights.

    When we get going, I relax a bit. The noise the boat makes is loud but not bad. The spray as we move out past the reef and the waves pick up hits my face and helps with the nausea. Rod pushes my bag out of reach. My sunglasses are in there but I guess I don’t need them that bad.

    One of the teenagers is in on the plan to murder me, but the other one isn’t. The tour guide is a teenager who looks older than his age. Knowing this would shock the non-locals on this boat who think this is a safe boat. It isn’t. But still, only one of us will die today.

    Rod said we should wait until we are turned around and coming back. He said that way we’d be too far out for anyone to help, and we’d leave all the evidence far behind us. My brother said Rod couldn’t answer any of the questions in school but did really well on his tests. People underestimate him all the time. He’s smarter than you think.

    Rod is not quite as smart as she thinks he is, or we wouldn’t be here.

    I feel bad for George. He runs this boat for his dad. His dad would kill him if he found out about this. It’s better he doesn’t have any idea. I just have to watch him. He knows this boat so well he doesn’t even have to think about running it. The others will look wherever George tells them to. As long as he looks away at the right time.

    One of the teenagers is one of the lovers. Watch closely, or you’ll miss it.

    Rod pulls the bag to his side and rummages in it. For a crazy minute I think to ask him for my sunglasses. He grabs the cloth and slips it out. It’s over the side before I have time to think. I don’t even have time to bite my lip and it’s over. I don’t look back, but only because Rod planned this and told me I’d want to, so I should remember not to. Instead, I look around the faces of the others in the boat. They were all looking forward at the stupid hills. I look past George’s shoulder at the wife whose ears are peeling. Rod puts his hand back on my knee. I wish George had turned around.

    Only two people knew there were seven people on board the boat; nobody else saw me get on. I was next to the sunglasses. Now check my math.

  6. J. Alvey

    "Haole"

    My husband is the type of man that would rather sit on the 12th-floor balcony of his hotel room drinking local beer and playing his guitar while occasionally peering down at those he calls the ants pursuing their business and entertainment far below, even when he is on an all-expenses-paid trip covered by sponsors of a game show I happened to win.

    I had to threaten a year without sex to get him to accompany me on the boat tour, along with the unintentional lie that there would be alcohol served on the boat during the tour of the islands.

    Even I was disappointed when I realized which boat was provided for our tour. I had not expected the QE2, but I thought the boat would have a bar, maybe, a deck, a place to lie back, relax and bathe in the tropical sun.

    "Call me Joey," said the guide, clearly a local, judging from his deeply tanned skin. "That is not my name, but it would be cruel to ask haoles to pronounce my real name."

    He laughed. I looked around and was satisfied that I was not alone in not knowing what he was talking about. When he invited us the six of us to board, again I looked around, noted that I was not alone in my reticence, and if the couple I now know as Frank and Judy had not stepped into the boat, I am sure we would have bolted, all of us.

    As it was, Jim was trying to pull away from me, determined to head back to the comfort of the hotel. "Two years!" I whispered. "Two years! I mean it!"

    As if herded by expectations while ignoring reality, the six of us clambered into the boat, all of us, I thought, with expressions of at least mild consternation, disappointment, on our faces.

    "Not to worry, haoles," said Joey, laughing. "She is not much, but she is seaworthy, and you will get a tour of the islands in the way of the locals. You will never forget this trip. Trust me."

    "Do not worry," he added with a chuckle, "the oars are for later. We will use the motor to get beyond the breakers and out into calmer waters. I checked with the Weather Service, I posted our itinerary with the Coast Guard, and if you look in the cooler between the second and third benches, you will find a cooler containing bottled water, canned sardines, and locally-baked crackers."

    True to his word, Joey motored us out beyond the breakers and into calmer waters. In fact, our fears about having to row, if others shared them with me, and I know Jim did, were unfounded. Joey motored us from spot to spot along the coast of Hawaii, the Big Island, explaining local history along the way and if it was not a luxury cruise it was at least interesting and occasionally entertaining, at least to everyone but Jim, Frank, and Judy, Jim because he can be an ass and a whiner when he is not sitting on his tropical balcony drinking local spirits, Frank and Judy because sardines and sea travel did not agree with them, did not agree with them at all, not in the least.

    Joey laughed as Frank and Judy heaved over opposite sides of the boat. I could not quite make out what Joey muttered to himself but it sounded like "More A-holes in sacrifice, sacred weinie."

    Joey wasn’t laughing, shortly afterward when the motor began to sputter and finally died, somewhere between the Big Island, as he called it repetitively, and I think Oahu. We were stranded.

    Joey said, "I knew those oars were good for something!" and laughed. It was not a robust laugh, and when I realized that this was not part of some tour-related joke, I became concerned. Frank and Judy were clearly ill, and the effect of their illness, chum floating by us on both sides, was to make the rest of us queasy. And now he wanted us rowing back to Hawaii?

    "Six oars for my six haoles," Joey exclaimed. "I will be the one you call a coxswain. Row together on my command. We will have no problem making it back to the mainland."

    I was proud of the way we united, how we became one, after a fashion, even if none of us appeared to have any previous experience rowing either separately or as part of a team. Eventually, our fear perhaps powering us, we guided the small craft far enough along that we could see the Big Island. We knew that we would make it.

    Joey said, in fact, "It won’t be long before we reach the breakers and they will throw us to the shore from that point."

    My husband stood, dangerous as that was, reached out for Joey, as if to hug him, and said, "You know, Joey, we’ll get there a little bit faster with less weight in the boat."

    He threw Joey over the bow. Joey’s shouts of "Stroke!" were replaced by Jim’s shouts of "Swim!"

    Jim took his place at his oar. We rowed on, now to the rhythm of Jim’s "Swim!", until we reached the breakers, when there was no longer the need for Jim to coax.

  7. J. Alvey

    "Haole"

    Seven people board a small boat for a tour of the islands, but when the boat returns to the dock, only six people remain on board.

    My husband is the type of man that would rather sit on the 12th-floor balcony of his hotel room drinking local beer and playing his guitar while occasionally peering down at those he calls the ants pursuing their business and entertainment far below, even when he is on an all-expenses-paid trip covered by sponsors of a game show I happened to win.

    I had to threaten a year without sex to get him to accompany me on the boat tour, along with the unintentional lie that there would be alcohol served on the boat during the tour of the islands.

    Even I was disappointed when I realized which boat was provided for our tour. I had not expected the QE2, but I thought the boat would have a bar, maybe, a deck, a place to lie back, relax and bathe in the tropical sun.

    "Call me Joey," said the guide, clearly a local, judging from his deeply tanned skin. "That is not my name, but it would be cruel to ask haoles to pronounce my real name."

    He laughed. I looked around and was satisfied that I was not alone in not knowing what he was talking about. When he invited us the six of us to board, again I looked around, noted that I was not alone in my reticence, and if the couple I now know as Frank and Judy had not stepped into the boat, I am sure we would have bolted, all of us.

    As it was, Jim was trying to pull away from me, determined to head back to the comfort of the hotel. "Two years!" I whispered. "Two years! I mean it!"

    As if herded by expectations while ignoring reality, the six of us clambered into the boat, all of us, I thought, with expressions of at least mild consternation, disappointment, on our faces.

    "Not to worry, haoles," said Joey, laughing. "She is not much, but she is seaworthy, and you will get a tour of the islands in the way of the locals. You will never forget this trip. Trust me."

    "Do not worry," he added with a chuckle, "the oars are for later. We will use the motor to get beyond the breakers and out into calmer waters. I checked with the Weather Service, I posted our itinerary with the Coast Guard, and if you look in the cooler between the second and third benches, you will find a cooler containing bottled water, canned sardines, and locally-baked crackers."

    True to his word, Joey motored us out beyond the breakers and into calmer waters. In fact, our fears about having to row, if others shared them with me, and I know Jim did, were unfounded. Joey motored us from spot to spot along the coast of Hawaii, the Big Island, explaining local history along the way and if it was not a luxury cruise it was at least interesting and occasionally entertaining, at least to everyone but Jim, Frank, and Judy, Jim because he can be an ass and a whiner when he is not sitting on his tropical balcony drinking local spirits, Frank and Judy because sardines and sea travel did not agree with them, did not agree with them at all, not in the least.

    Joey laughed as Frank and Judy heaved over opposite sides of the boat. I could not quite make out what Joey muttered to himself but it sounded like "More A-holes in sacrifice, sacred weinie."

    Joey wasn’t laughing, shortly afterward when the motor began to sputter and finally died, somewhere between the Big Island, as he called it repetitively, and I think Oahu. We were stranded.

    Joey said, "I knew those oars were good for something!" and laughed. It was not a robust laugh, and when I realized that this was not part of some tour-related joke, I became concerned. Frank and Judy were clearly ill, and the effect of their illness, chum floating by us on both sides, was to make the rest of us queasy. And now he wanted us rowing back to Hawaii?

    "Six oars for my six haoles," Joey exclaimed. "I will be the one you call a coxswain. Row together on my command. We will have no problem making it back to the mainland."

    I was proud of the way we united, how we became one, after a fashion, even if none of us appeared to have any previous experience rowing either separately or as part of a team. Eventually, our fear perhaps powering us, we guided the small craft far enough along that we could see the Big Island. We knew that we would make it.

    Joey said, in fact, "It won’t be long before we reach the breakers and they will throw us to the shore from that point."

    My husband stood, dangerous as that was, reached out for Joey, as if to hug him, and said, "You know, Joey, we’ll get there a little bit faster with less weight in the boat."

    He threw Joey over the bow. Joey’s shouts of "Stroke!" were replaced by Jim’s shouts of "Swim!"

    Jim took his place at his oar. We rowed on, now to the rhythm of Jim’s "Swim!", until we reached the breakers, when there was no longer the need for Jim to coax.

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