"What's the Word?" - Your Story #49 Finalist

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"What's the Word?" - Your Story #49 Finalist

Postby TiffanyLuckey » Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:17 am

What’s the Word?

“What the heck is that word again?” I say to everyone else on the island—which is exactly no one. “If I could just remember it, I could turn this stupid coconut back into…”

My thought trails off as a word jumps out at me from page 67. “Cannibal!” I shout to the unmoving, unresponsive furry round lump in the sand before me.

Nothing happens. “Great! That’s the same response I’ve gotten for the past 66 pages,” I say to the palm tree next to me.
I eye the tight fitting leather mask in my lap. The eyes have been hollowed out and replaced with a durable Plexiglas-type material. It almost looks like an old school aviation mask. Almost.

“If I can’t get this to work, you’re going to be useless.” I lick my thumb to turn the page in the dictionary then promptly spit out the granules stuck in my teeth. I hate sand. It gets everywhere.

“I sure hope the magic word I’m looking for doesn’t start with a Z.”

The sun moves slowly across the sky as I continue my relentless quest for the precisely proper verbal designation. Every few minutes I scooch over the sand on my bottom, cradling the book and mask in my lap, as the shade from the fronds of the only tree on this 20 square-foot island shift.

Eventually the last rays of the sun refract purple, orange and red light across the horizon. In the full dark of night, the temperature threatens to drop at least 20 degrees. All I have on are shorts, a T-shirt and flip-flops.

“It’s now or never,” I say as I come to the end of the S section.

“Sublimation!” I shout with less enthusiasm than I had earlier in the day. I’m exhausted, thirsty and hungry. Besides, my voice sounds like I’ve been singing loudly to pop hits on the radio while chain smoking and getting over an angry bout of laryngitis.

I’m about to turn the page again when the ground begins to shake. I quickly stand and retreat clear to the other side of the island—exactly 10 paces backwards.

The coconut—which I had seriously considered cracking open and eating before I realized that neither the dictionary or the mask could break the tough outer shell—vaults off the ground clearing the top of the palm tree, which is easily the tallest tree on the island. Needless to say, it was a long way up. It twirls and gyrates in a zigzag pattern all the while expanding to an enormous size.

“Finally!” I smile to myself as I place the mask over my face.

The air catches fire as an ear-splitting roar shatters the desolate stillness of my exile. But the noise doesn’t bother me. The mask muffles the sound.

“Marshuk!” I yell at my dragon companion. “Are you alright?” He did, after all, spend the better part of the day crammed inside a coconut.

He’s pissed, that much I can tell from the string of ancient curse words he’s using in a language that is easily translated into my own by the mask.

“I’m sorry. My mother’s a witch. What can I say?” (No, really. She’s a witch. And a rather powerful one at that.) “You know chemistry is my least favorite subject,” I say pleading with him. “I promise to scratch your belly later if you forgive me.”

I bat my eyelashes and flash my sweetest most innocent smile. He hates it when I do that because he’s a softie. But I’d never tell him that. He could easily eat me and use my bones as toothpicks.

Eventually he acquiesces to my charms, diving down and stopping a foot above the ground. His massive wings send sand flying in every direction. My legs and arms are peppered with it. It stings!

I climb on his back, tucking the dictionary underneath my arm. “Let’s go home,” I say into his ear as I grab the small protruding horn at the base of his neck and hold on tight.

“And I swear,” I continue as we lift off into the air, climbing higher and higher until I can no longer see the island, “the next time I don’t know the meaning of a word and my mom tells me to ‘look it up,’ I won’t roll my eyes at her.”

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