Love Boat

After a long, hard breakup, you decide to treat yourself and go on a two-week cruise. You get onto the boat, put your bags in your room, and take a stroll around the deck. As you look around you, everyone seems to be in couples and everywhere you look, lovebirds are spending time together. You groan, realizing you’ll be spending two weeks on a romantic cruise alone. But as you lean on the railing, a very attractive someone walks up to you, and they seem to be single, too. Maybe this cruise won’t be so bad after all.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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219 thoughts on “Love Boat

  1. Anxietas

    Love Boat

    The cruise ship is moving at a calm pace and you feel a slight cool breeze as you lean on the railing. You smell the fresh salty air and notice how the sun’s gleam reflects off the ocean’s current hitting against the side of the ship. You take a glance around and notice all the loving couples walking about. You quickly remember the feeling of being with someone and what it felt like to be loved. Suddenly, you hear a voice over your shoulder. The voice is relaxed but coarse and it almost puts you in a state of serenity. Completely transfixed on the voice, you turn to find a man standing next to you.

    ‘Excuse me, miss?”

    You first notice how tall he is, but not much taller than you are. You refelct back to high school when you were bullied for being 5’8 and known as a giant among the other boys. Your eyes trail down his white button up shirt and you notice that part of it is open revealing his clean but defined chest. You notice his soft pastel blue boardshorts along with black sandals to compliment his look. You move to his dark clean cut hair and obsereve his thick eyebrows. His chin is broad and his jawline is narrow. You begin to feel shy. Your eyes meet with his and you become entranced.

    He steps closer to you. “Uh, miss? Is your name Carol?” You realize he knows your name but how? “Yes, it is. How did you know my name?” You seem nervous but content to hear him say your name. You see he is holding a small purse and he hands it over to you. “This must be yours. I found inside the common room. Lucky, because you were the first person I asked.” You take the small purse and thank him happily. “Oh, my god. Thank you!” He nods his head and smiles. “Of course. I’ll be on my way now.” He bids farewell and suddenly you feel nervous again. “Wait! I’m sorry. I-I usually don’t this but.. would you like to join me for dinner tonight?”

    He turns back and begins walking in your direction smiling. You smile back.

  2. Emmy132

    This is not a coming out story. This is not a tale of self-discovery. This is not a tale of awakening long-repressed sexual desires. This is not even a story of love. It’s a story of love’s past and its possible reawakening. This is the story of one bisexual woman who had her heart broken and then found someone capable of repairing it again.
    It begins, as many stories do, with a woman. The opening scene depicts her and her partner sitting in a restaurant, one they’d visited together many times, eating their usual choice of meal, and chatting.
    Of course this would not be a very exciting scene without some drama, some action, some plot. And so here it is:
    When the waiter comes to ask if they would like any dessert, our protagonist politely declines with a smile and asks for the bill. The waiter agrees and clears the couple’s plates. Not much of a hook? Our protagonist didn’t think so either. Nothing out of the ordinary here. Unless, of course, you are our protagonist’s partner. Now for some reason, unbeknownst to anyone else, our protagonist’s partner decides there was something in that smile and polite request. Something flirtatious. Something that leads to “I can’t believe you looked at the waiter like that” and “I was warned about this double threat” and “I’m sick of being jealous of everyone you talk to” and “we’re breaking up”.
    And so our protagonist finds herself single. And what sort of protagonist of a not-quite love story would she be if she didn’t immediately book a holiday on a boat. And what sort of a not-quite love story would this be if the boat was not full of couples?
    Enter our love interest. Tall, gorgeous, dark hair, dark eyes, cheekbones to die for, and, coincidentally, the only other single person on the boat.
    And so here they are. Our protagonist and our love interest side-by-side on a boat full of couples. They share a smile. Then a drink. Then stories of what lead them to be here, now, on this romantic cruise with no partner to speak of. They share jokes, and dances, and laughs, and, eventually, a kiss.
    And our protagonist shares the one thing she has been holding back so far. The reason her partner broke up with her. The love interest is outraged at our protagonist’s ex-partner’s behaviour and talks of the restrictive nature of binaries. How close-minded the people who can’t understand why someone may be attracted to more than one gender and still be faithful are. And how these are the same people who have looked down upon our love interest because they think that people can only be one of two genders. How things aren’t always that black and white.
    And, finally, they share an understanding.

  3. Paint on Parchment

    Part 1:

    When Alice was with Steven, she’d had to stuff down too much.

    So it was almost definitely great that she was on this cruise alone. It was a post-Steven opportunity for affirming her identity — or, at least, that’s what she hoped it would be. More likely, it would be a post-Steven opportunity for glaring at all these goddamn happy couples and wanting to shove their small intestines down their esophagi.

    Alice was furious that she even knew to say ‘esophagi’ rather than ‘esophaguses.’ Steven had been pre-med.

    To hell with Steven. Steven had enveloped her and compressed her and squashed her into a ridiculous mold — a metaphor excruciatingly similar to the constricting dresses she’d bought while dating him. But now she had to time-warp herself into the person she was pre-Steven.

    And that meant chucking the dresses.

    Standing next to the cabin’s rickety bed, she glared at the clothes in her suitcase. She slid into her slacks and suit jacket, closing her eyes as the fabric touched her skin. It had been too long since she’d worn these. Snatching the one dress she’d brought — the worst one of the bunch; the skirt was made of goddamn spandex — she clomped up the stairs to the deck, relishing the heaviness of her footsteps.

    And… couples. Alice had known they were there, of course — they weren’t too subtle about it — but the spitty, suction-cup-getting-yanked-from-a-tabletop sounds of open-mouthed kisses pelted her shield of confidence. But she wouldn’t let the shield crumble so quickly. She had an objective.

    Alice strode across the deck, shoving through bodies that were too tightly intertwined to step out of her way themselves, until she’d reached the railing. She watched the ocean rumble for a moment. It had been polluted by gas and tossed-in bottles and plastic bags that’d drifted through air until they gotten too exhausted to fly and collapsed into the waves — polluted enough that Alice only felt-semi guilty about what she was going to do. She dangled the dress over the rail. This was symbolic and cathartic and, fine, vaguely pretentious and terrible for the environment, but it would be (at the very least) a good story.

    Forcing her fingers not to tremble, Alice let go of the dress. It was heavy enough that it plummeted straight down and smacked against the ocean’s surface, but not dense enough to sink. It rocked back and forth beneath the first layer of water, the redness of the skirt diluted by the cloudiness of the ocean. They were both ugly as all hell.

    1. Beebles

      Well I was going to say you don’t see many stories with esophagi in them – and then you explained why. This felt good and tight, like the spandex. I liked the idea of the clothes overboard and appreciated the character moulding – which is something I struggle with, but this isn’t about me, its about you, and yours was great. You’ve got to get part two up.

  4. danbill

    The best thing about going to spend some time in another culture for me is that you see the world – people, life, history, you name it – from a different angle. I mean after a couple of weeks in China, you’re picking out pretty girls the same way they do. It ain’t all t**s and a*s other there. Just a*s mainly.

    Now I’d noticed her on the dining deck already, thighs running all the way up to these pink hotpants. She’d noticed me, must have – well they all had.

    Now I was just after taking my 400th photo of a gorge. It was a bit misty and everything so I wasn’t too enamoured with my work. Wasn’t too much in the mood for bitchin’ about it either. Wasn’t thinking all too much really, was just going with the flow. Gently taking things in all the time. Oh here’s the fancy part of Shanghai, there’s the Great Wall, now the Terracotta Warriors, now onto the boat for a few days.

    Wasn’t talking a whole lot either. Good. When I’d rock up in a place I’d ask the cabbie to take me to a place a Chinese would stay in. I had the odd BigMac to remind me of home, but otherwise I did my best to blend in with the local crowd.

    So anyway, she taps me on the shoulder, and she’s wearing this cute pink rain jacket and she’s got big glasses frames with no lenses in and I’m so close to her sweet little nose.

    I flash her a smile and try to think of something to say. But I’m in a bit of a daze, and it’s a hell of a long time since I tried to chat up a woman.

    She’s speaking Chinese to me, which I kind of liked. She’s being true to herself, or maybe she wasn’t too good in English class. Or she’s just too shy. Either way seemed good.

    She didn’t understand me well. I glanced around to see if there might be anyone who could translate, but the deck wasn’t all too busy and the only person looking our way was some Chinese redneck with a stooped posture and rabbit teeth.

    I ask what her name is for the third time. She’s smiling. Keeps on saying “win” something.

    “Can I call you Winnie?” I ask.

    Now that smile seemed to turn into a grin for half a second. Hello.

    I decide to move in for the kill.

    “Fancy a beer, Winnie?” I ask. Doing the old swig, swig motion with my right hand.

    Back to a smile now, silence. She reaches into her jacket pocket. Takes her phone out.

    I put my hand out to try to say something like “that’s awful nice and all but what you need my number for, when we’ll be on the same boat for next 48 hours and are touring the world’s biggest hydroelectric dam together tomorrow.”

    Then before I know it she’s put her arm round my neck and she lifts the phone up and she’s got the camera open, and then click. Selfie time.

    And off she goes.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A collection of Americans for her private amusement or photos of victims for her wall paper. Some how, I’d be real careful about Winnie if I were in his place. The description of Winnie is excellent. Some Chinese women seem to have grown “you Knows” the last few years. It’s in the hormones in our food. God Bless hormones.

        1. danbill

          Thanks for the feedback. It han’t even occurred to me she could be either a personification of Helly Kitty or a cross-dressing psycho. This one could run some more…

    1. jhowe

      You have a very interesting style. I really liked reading this. The big glasses frame with no lenses, for some reason, really tickled me. I never thought to use a line like that.

  5. agnesjack

    Mimi’s husband, Bill, walked out in a huff for the fifth and final time. He did this about every ten years, but Mimi knew this time was final because divorce papers accompanied the usual note of outrage and self-pity. There were even post-its indicating where she should sign.

    “Darling Mimi,” his note said, “I cannot take the rearranging of the dishes in the dishwasher anymore. It’s an outrage. I am not a child. Nor can I tolerate one more day of you finishing my sentences. In addition, I have taken my mother’s cast iron skillet to save it from your constant abuse. One must never use soap on cast iron, and yet you insist. It breaks my heart. Lastly, since I was never able to mow the lawn to your satisfaction, you now have the privilege of doing it yourself. Goodbye forever, Bill.”

    He’s starting to repeat himself, Mimi thought just as the doorbell rang. It was the mailman with a certified envelope. Inside was a letter congratulating her on winning a ticket for a two-week cruise scheduled to depart in two week’s time.

    Ha! she thought, and immediately made an appointment for the full treatment at her beauty salon.

    When she stepped onto the ship two weeks later, she felt younger than her seventy-four years. Her room was small and on a lower deck, but she didn’t care. This was a new beginning.

    After unpacking, she went for a walk on the deck. There seemed to be a lot of young couples on the cruise, which was a little disappointing, but the weather was gorgeous and the salt air was invigorating.

    That night, at dinner, she was seated with four young couples, two of whom were newlyweds. There was an extra chair next to her, but no one came to sit in it and the dining hall didn’t appear to have any single people at all. The couples at her table were sweet and polite, but in that overly solicitous way young people often have with the elderly.

    After dinner, she went on deck and wondered if she had made a mistake. Two weeks is a long time to spend alone on a cruise ship.

    Just then, she heard a cough to her left. An elderly man with a full head of white hair was leaning on the railing. He looked at her and she looked away. She wondered if she should say hello. She looked over again and it was his turn to quickly look away.

    Well, she thought. I didn’t dye my hair red in order to be the same old stick-in-the-mud.

    “Hi,” she said. “Did you by any chance miss dinner tonight?”

    “Why, yes,” he said. “How did you know?”

    “There was an empty seat next to mine,” she said.

    “Ah,” he said, blushing. “I saw you there, looking so beautiful, and I couldn’t bring myself to sit down. I’m rather shy, you know?”

    “Are you?” she said, smiling and taking his hand.

    ***

    The cruise was two weeks of heaven, and when Mimi got home she turned to her companion and said, “That was the best fantasy anniversary, yet, Bill. Truly. I especially loved the divorce papers. Nice touch.”

    “Well, fifty years deserved something extra special, don’t you think? Now, can I take off this stupid wig?”

    Mimi laughed and gave him a hug.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This is a beautiful and charming piece and of course is special to me. There are a lot of tricks to staying married, one of which is make believe. You wrote it so well, if I didn’t know better, you may have tried it. Make believe starts at about ten years of marriage, at least that’s my cxperience. Sometimes, when you settle into a comfortable base and you see your wife hit upon by men many years younger, it keeps you on your toes. I outta know.

        1. agnesjack

          Ah, Kerry. I knew this would be something you could relate to. A long marriage is a blessing, but it also requires a little work and imagination. I’m trying to get back into the habit of posting every week. I feel a little rusty.

      1. agnesjack

        Thanks, Bushkill. I have to admit that I was the abuser of my husband’s cast iron skillets (using soap), but I did dry it on the burner and oil it afterwards. 🙂

    1. jhowe

      It’s good to hear from you again agnesjack; I thought maybe you switched to poetry or something. But you came back with a bang. The ending was so unexpected and so delightful. I liked it a lot.

  6. Bushkill

    Love Boat

    The railing is cool to my touch, covered in a fine mist as the oversized mass of my cruise ship leaves the harbor for the open sea. The towering monuments of man fade from view behind a wall of clouds and just beyond the curve of the horizon.

    I am alone.

    Everywhere I turn, I see couples. Two dolphins slip in and out of the ship’s wake, cavorting. Even the trays of drinks that come by carry pairs of beverages. I stare into the shimmering mass of the ocean and wish for one last chance at love.

    A burst of light from the setting sun breaks through the clouds. For a magical moment the water is alive with an inner light as color and hue dance like fire across the waves and wake of my boat. The deep blue of the ocean overwhelms me for a moment and I am transfixed by its depths and beauty.

    Just as suddenly the clouds press together and the glorious color fades to a dull grey and the water sloughs like bilge against the sides of the ship. I sigh and hang my head. Even the vastness of the ocean rejects me and hides her beauty. I am as depressed and forlorn as I can remember.

    “Excuse me. Sir, excuse me, but can I stand here with you a moment?”

    I shrug my shoulders and stare into the abyss below, “Sure.” I don’t bother turning to see who it is.

    A shift in the air envelops me in the smell of her coconut sunscreen and perfume. They wash over me and in a few seconds I am thinking about the ray of light a moment earlier. I feel my mood shimmer and shake as if it is trying to change, forcing itself against the moroseness I have mired myself in for far too long.

    She is humming softly to herself and I sneak a glance at her arms and hands where they are crossed leaning on the rail, a mirror of my own position. They are exquisite. Her nails are painted an aquamarine blue that blends so perfectly with her tanned skin as to be shocking. On her left wrist is a bracelet of silver dolphins chasing each other over a delicate wrist with the words “live, laugh”, also chasing each other, tattooed in exquisite calligraphy. Her right wrist finishes the phrase with the word “love” snaking the same script around its slender form. It twinkles at me behind a bracelet of mermaids, silver like the Dolphins with blue stones to match the nail polish.

    Her humming grows louder and it pulls at me, tugging with primal urgency at my heart.

    I turned to look more fully at the vision beside me and am stunned by her beauty. Tourmaline green eyes, wide and beckoning, watched me. Her blue sundress slid around her form like water. Hair fell in cascades around her shoulders in beautiful auburn waves.

    And then she began to sing …

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Where are you Bushkill and how long will it take me to get there? I’ve never read a better description of a woman before
      I only hope she doesn’t ruin it by singing flat. All kidding aside, I liked this version a whole lot
      Keep up the great work.

      1. Bushkill

        Lol. Thanks, Kerry. Bushkill is a tiny little town in northeast Pa. I suppose Sirens are to be beautiful beyond words and I tried to keep a water motif alive while describing her.

        I appreciate your comments and am glad you enjoyed the read.

    2. LASARDaddy

      I enjoyed that, thank you for posting it here. I’m much into minerals and gem stones (I facet them too) and Tourmaline is a favorite. To me the best color is the Chrome Green that’s looks like the finest Emeralds. I’ve seen eyes that color. I lost my wife of 44 years 2 years ago and I’m still struggling with living my life now. It is getting better.

      Of course the story set my mind off in a hundred directions with other possibilities. Maybe she’s a Sylkie, a Scottish changling that’s usually a seal, but maybe she was one of the dolphins. I’ll keep my eyes open for follow ups. She could teach him how to live again.

      Good use of words, good work.

  7. XChen

    It was supposed to be a relaxing trip for me to forget about Jonathan, but I ended up having to constantly pull myself out of these endless married-couple or mother-daughter conversations from one circle to another. There turned out to be practically no single men on this boat.

    Time was traveling slower than the boat that afternoon. I told Mrs. Stone, whom I seemed to run into anywhere I went, that I needed some fresh air. Then I just walked straight up to the deck on the highest level.

    I was the only one there. As I fixed my gaze at the open sea around me, I heard some footsteps approaching me.

    “Ocean is so mysterious.” I turned to the voice and it was a man, medium built and mildly attractive. I grinned.

    “My name is Edmond, Edmond Young.” He had a warm smile.

    “Joanna Green. Nice to meet you.”

    “Looks like we just beat each other at being the last single person onboard.” He smiled again, and I started to feel good about being so high up here.

    “So, is this your first time on a boat?” I asked.

    “Actually no. I have travelled by boat many times. I love the ocean, and rivers too.”

    He seemed different and interesting, which were two qualities I happened to value a lot. We continued talking about all sorts of things, and before I realized it, the sun had set and painted the sky red and purple.

    “Would you like to get something to eat?” My stomach was screaming hungry at that point, so I took the lead.

    As we were walking into the dining room, I noticed that a few people who I talked to earlier that afternoon were looking at us. I just smiled back at them.

    The waiter came and we ordered two burgers right away. The food arrived fast, but we devoured faster.

    “By the way, leave some space for desserts. They have really good desserts here. ” Edmond said.

    Just when I was going on and on about the types of desserts I enjoyed, Mrs. Stone suddenly came over, interrupting our appetizing conversation. She asked if I would be free to join her and a few other “girls” for some tea on the deck later. I said yes, and she just walked away before I was able to introduce Edmond. He did not seem to mind, as either of us considered it a loss for him.

    “Maybe I’ll see you after the tea?” I said it as casually as I could, but I was very anxious inside.

    “Maybe.” He had a huge smile.

    I joined Mrs. Stone and her friends at the tea. Once the conversations started to get dreadful, I decided it was time to use my meeting with Edmond to get out of there.

    “Edmond Who?” Mrs. Stone seemed surprised.

    “Edmond Young. He was the one I was having dinner with just now.” Mrs. Stone still looked confused.

    As I repeated his name for her for the third time, an older waiter suddenly interjected, “Did you just mention Edmond Young?”

    “Yes. Do you know him, sir?” I was relieved that finally someone knew what I was talking about.

    “Of course!” The waiter said. “He was a sailor when I first started. We all liked the fellow. Too bad he died of that terrible accident. Are you a family member of his?”

    I did not know what to say, and Mrs. Stone just stared me for a long time.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I love Ghost stories as much as stories about the sea. A watch through of the Ghost and Mrs
      Muir is one of the best love stories. I.have ever seen
      If you’re not familiar, rent it. You did a great job on this

  8. igonzales81

    Jared Cooper clung to the ship’s railing, afraid in his inebriated state to let go. Since launching from Charleston that morning, the ocean liner Triton had been mired in a fog so dense that it rendered the term “pea soup” inadequate.

    Since the ugly breakup with his fiancée, Jared had been debating whether or not to go forward with the grand New Year’s Cruise he’d won. In the end, two weeks of all-expenses-paid carousing on one of the finest luxury liners in the world had seemed too good to pass up, and the perfect way to ring in 2016. He just hadn’t counted on their being so many happy couples swarming the vessel. At the First Night festivities, he hadn’t been able to go five steps without bumping into a pair of smiling lovebirds.

    Now he was on deck with a purloined bottle of Veuve Cliquot, trying to drown his sorrows, while being unable to see more than a foot in front of his face. All the world seemed wrapped in dark gray cotton, existence coming to a halt just beyond his fingertips.

    Suddenly, he heard footsteps, the distinctive click of heels against the wooden decking. A scowl crossed his face. The only good thing about the fog was that it was keeping the star-struck lovers indoors.

    Then she materialized out of the mists, and Jared forgot what he’d been thinking only a second earlier.

    She wore her red-gold hair in a perfect bob, her walk so graceful that the locks barely swayed. A dress of a cut and style he’d never seen a woman wearing hung from her slender shoulders, draping down over her curves in a most complimentary fashion. But it was her face that caught and held his gaze, blue eyes sparkling with mischief and rose-red lips quirked in a smile, as if all the world was a private joke she just might share if you asked right.

    “Hi,” he squeaked.

    “Saw you slipping away from the party.” Her voice was soft and deep. “Buy a girl a drink?”

    Jared swallowed. “I…uh, I didn’t bring any glasses.”

    “Not a problem,” she held up two narrow flutes. She walked right up to him and took the bottle, her hand brushing against his as she did so. “My mother told me I shouldn’t drink with strangers. So I’m Amanda.”

    “Jared.”

    “Nice to meet you, Jared.” She turned away as she raised her glass to her lips, those wonderful eyes staring out into the fog.

    “Are you here with someone?” Jared heard himself ask.

    “Nope. I’m part of the entertainment. Singer.”

    “I see.” A breeze kicked up, stirring the mist. In that dress, she had to be freezing. “Maybe we should go back inside?”

    “Nope.” Those eyes found his again. She poured herself another glass, and Jared noticed that the label on the bottle was suddenly different, Andre-Lane instead of Veuve Cliquot. “Thank God for international waters. We should make a toast.”

    The fog was vanishing quickly, revealing a smooth and untroubled sea lying under a brilliant moon. As far as Jared could see, there was no sign of another living thing. It was as if Amanda and he were the only two people in the world. He liked that thought.

    “To new beginnings?”

    “New beginnings.” Their glasses met with a click. “And Happy New Year, 1930. Hope you’re better than the last one.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I agree with Beebles. A perfect fit, easy on the eyes. Your description of Amanda led me to believe you’ve met someone like her before
        As her vision took place, my thoughts turned to Rita Hayworth. Of course I usually am thinking about her. This is my announced winner on this week’s prompt, although we’re not in any contest but rather to learn from each.other

        1. igonzales81

          Thank you, Kerry! A lot of different influences went into this one. And yes, I’ve met a woman like Amanda, but that’s a another story in itself.

  9. Kerry Charlton

    DER FLIEGENDE HOLLANDER

    REBECCAH

    Two days earlier, the Summer Princess had left Fort Lauderdale on a two week

    cruise to the Caribbean. Foster Brackenridge leaned on the railing despite ship’s warning

    of an unexpected storm spotted on radar, It was expected to hit the ship in less than an

    hour. The deck of course was empty except for Foster. Winds increased and waves

    crashed into the side of the ship.

    Foster went to the bow of the ship and climbed to the very front.

    ‘What an easy thing to do,’ he thought, ‘just jump, goodbye to a lost love.’

    At that moment he saw the crest forming about a half mile straight ahead. He had

    read of phantom waves tall enough to swallow an entire ship but considered it folklore.

    ‘Not today, not now’ as he saw the wave form from the crest. “Lord God, it must

    be a hundred feet and traveling at least 50 knots. No need to worry about jumping, I’ll die

    instantly‘

    In a second or two, all went dark. When he awoke on top of the sea, the wave had

    passed and taken the entire ship with it.

    ‘Why am I alive? It’s not possible to survive that.’ No broken bones, he started to

    swim. ’Why, I’m 300 miles from land, what chance have I?’

    Then he saw her on the horizon cutting through the waves like they didn’t exist, a

    seventeenth century schooner,

    ‘It can‘t be, I‘m either dead or dreaming. The schooner made a straight course

    toward him. Winds ceased, seas calmed. At it came closer, he knew he had died. ‘No one

    sees The Flying Dutchman unless they’re in another world.’

    He heard a woman’s voice through the mist,

    “Stand by lad, I’ll throw a line to you..”

    A three master sailing vessel, stood by as he grabbed the rope and started to climb

    it. But it was pulled quickly to the deck, he climbed over the low rail into another world.

    “Well lad it looks like thee be no worse for wear.”

    She was dressed in a seaman outfit except for her blouse. Her hair, flaming red,

    blew around her face, masking her beauty. Her eyes shone as deep emeralds, her figure

    stretching her blouse.

    “What be thy name lad.”

    “Foster, Foster Brackenridge, and yours?”

    “Rebeccah Van Der Decken.”

    The ship tacked around and headed off again.

    “May I ask where your destination is?

    “Would you care to guess lad?”

    “If I remember right, The Cape Of Good Hope.”

    “Then you know about me?”

    “I know about The Flying Dutchman?” and Hendrick Van Der Decken.”

    My Father finally found peace off the coast of Spain, but the curse fell to me, his

    daughter.”

    “How many years have you sailed Rebeccah?

    “Some ninety years now, you’re the first person I’ve spoken to. The ghosts run my

    ship.”

    “Are you looking for love?”

    “Oh yes, I’m so tired of sailing, I’m looking for eternal love.”

    Foster gathered her in his arms and said to her.

    ” I will love you enough to die for you. For eternal love, I pledge my life to you.”

    .

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Dusty. This story coul be expanded into a movie script, you,’re right, but not I’m not talented enough to do it. I’ve never done any script writing.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Beebles,
      Found it, read it. Great take that really needs to be continued. Characters are interesting, writing is wonderful, and it’s illustrated!

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Wel Beebles, our MC has his work cut out for him. When I finished, my mind went to Jack Lemmon sitting on Joe E. Brown’s launch on the way to the yacht, whe he takes off his wig and says. “I’m not a girl!” Joe E. studies him for a moment, “Well , not everybody’s perfect?” End of movie,, “Some Like It Hot”

          1. Beebles

            Excellent movie. Thanks Kerry. The story that came into my mind when I finished was The Magus by Fowles. I suddenly thought that The Benefactors could play so much havoc with this man, as could Darling.

    2. Beebles

      Hey I did a part two, but it probably won’t post.

      ——————————————

      Lucius’s appreciation of ‘Darling’ grew every hour they spent on board. She was elegant, intelligent and exuberant. She laughed, each time as though it would be her last, and she enjoyed every benefit that their free passage had to offer. Clearly, her idea of being clandestine was to be seen and heard by everyone.

      And she pulled Lucius along with her, hands all over him in public, praising him to every couple they met. He felt her attention hatching him from his malaise. The heartache that had embarked with him now receded as surely the dockside had done. Even the lascivious glances Darling lathered on the other females aboard could not dispel her mesmeric charms.

      Most of all Lucius eagerly awaited each surreptitious meeting, alone in her quarters, always accompanied by champagne, paid for by The Benefactors, of course. She explained her equipment – sonar she called it – and demonstrated it while he followed her eyes or lips, or even yearned at the sight of her delicate, intimate garments that lay scattered on every surface. Not all of them were hers, he anticipated sourly.

      ‘How long until we make the search zone?’

      She lay on her front across the burgundy bed throw, her feet kicking seductively back and forth above her. Lucius watched the pressing curves the silk nightdress revealed, wishing gravity would treble.

      ‘Day after tomorrow,’ he managed.

      ‘We’ll head down into the hull tomorrow then, to begin the readings.’

      He felt affronted. ‘Why? Don’t you trust my accuracy?’

      ‘Don’t be silly, Angel, of course I do. Better to try a dry run first though, don’t you think?’

      Just as well, Lucius begrudgingly thought as the two of them descended the spider’s web of ladders through the hold. He enjoyed going first, her trim form above him, encased in tight britches, the oversized camera box containing the sonar machine bumping against the perfect arch of her back. Lucius carried the battery.

      ‘Almost there,’ she breathed above the distant engine noise.

      There was a clank above them. The bulkhead door they had just passed through swung open and a stoker, vest blotched with sweat, came through. Lucius froze.

      Then Lucius was in her embrace, her lips pressed against his, arms tight around his neck, her legs launched around his waist. It took a moment for his mind to adjust. And then he was lost in the sensation her flesh and heat. She moved his hand to her thigh as the footsteps became louder and he cursed the stubborn fabric that shielded the downy thighs he had fantasised about for the past three nights.

      She moaned loudly and Lucius’s head swam, all his blood heading south. He did not hear the stoker’s brash curse and retreating footsteps. ‘Bloody newly-weds,’ the man choked before slamming the door.

      Lucius hand was travelling inward when Darling dropped to the gangway and thrust him backwards onto the railing.

      ‘And that’s enough, Angel. Time to get back to work.’ And she was at the next ladder, leaving him panting, dizzy and frustrated.

      Much to his disappointment, after the ship entered the search zone, they were not disturbed again. Two days in the bowels of the vessel soiled Lucius’s temper once again, as Darling remained business-like and clinical as she saw to her devices. They took it in turn with the headsets and changing the paper rolls in the recorder.

      ‘We’ll be leaving the zone in less than half a day,’ Lucius growled toward the end of day three, tired and resentful from the lack of any action, either above or below the waterline. ‘The Benefactors won’t be pleased. Especially with the champagne bill added to a no sho …’

      Darling gripped his arm, scarlet nails threatening to cut the blood supply – it was unnerving what a power she had over his blood flow.

      ‘I have something.’ Her eyes were frozen, concentrated. Her immaculate brows rose and Lucius thought they would never stop. Her mouth fell open; she turned to him. It was the first time he had seen that exquisite face etched with doubt, even fear.

      ‘What is it?’

      ‘It’s huge,’ she answered aghast. ‘There is something down there and it’s as big and as complex as a city, bigger, and there’s …’ she faltered.

      ‘There’s what?’ She was scaring him.

      ‘There is a noise. There is something colossal below us. And …’

      ‘And what?’ Lucius held her shoulders. Her face was pale in the glow of their instruments.

      ‘… it has a heartbeat.’

  10. cosi van tutte

    Just for the fun of it….

    ****

    “Like, ohmigosh! Leave me alone!” Callie McGarr threw a pillow at her sister. “I am so not in the mood to mingle with the PDA festival out there.”

    Her sister, Brianna, picked up the pillow. “Doesn’t matter what mood you’re in. You are going to mingle.”

    “Like how dumb are you? I have A FREAKING BROKEN HEART!” She flumped face first into her other pillow and screamed.

    Brianna arched an eyebrow and tossed the pillow onto the bed. “Are you done?”

    Callie lay still like a smashed raccoon.

    “So, Jack Jilhouse—”

    Callie sat up and glared at her sister. “Do not mention that bozo’s name to me. He is like the sole reason why I’m like a total wreck right now.”

    “So? Come on out and get some fresh air. Meet a nice guy.”

    Her glare faded. “That would be such a nice change of pace. You can say all you want about Jack—”

    “Really?”

    “Like, duh, no. But, anyway, he was so not nice.” She crawled out of bed. “Like he didn’t even want to go to the prom with me.” She changed into a pink tank top with the words “Like, So Cute” stretched across the chest and red shorts with heart-shaped crystals dangling all along the hem. “Had to weed his garden. Like who the heck weeds their garden instead of going to the prom and dancing with like all their BFFs and junk? Like, who? Who does that? A straight out alien bozo. That’s who.”

    “Callie, we’ve been over this. Jack Jilhouse is not an alien.”

    She scoffed. “Oh, you have no idea. He totally is an alien. Not only an alien, but like some sort of like cheapo Emperor Zurg ripoff or some junk.” She sat down by the mirror and opened her makeup kit. “Like, he totally wanted to take over the world.”

    Brianna shook her head.

    “He and his cheap floozy hat alien girlfriend who wasn’t even all that pretty. She was gray, Brianna. GRAY! And like not even grey spelled with an e. That could have been acceptable. It was ugly gray. Spelled G-R-A-Y. Like, write that down and tell me if that word looks pretty to you. No. Don’t even try, because it would be a total waste of your time. It so isn’t pretty. And neither was she.”

    As she ranted, Callie put on her layers of makeup and perfume and earrings and such. Brianna tuned most of it out until she sensed that Callie was slowing down.

    “…she was so trashy and tacky. Trying to steal my man away. Like, she could have waited until I was dead before she laid claim to him.”

    “Are you done yet?”

    Callie scrutinized her reflection, turning her head from side to side, making sure that there were no visible makeup lines. “Totally.” She sighed. “Like, the worst thing is he like tried to propose to me, but he did it so completely wrong and then he ran off to his cheap alien floozy behind my back and then he got himself turned into his usual alien self and became like a world class alien creep. So, like, I totally had no choice in the matter. I had to break up with his ugly gray alien self and I am so like totally heartbroken over it and it’s like all of his freaking fault!”

    “Lovely. Now, can we go meet some cute guys?”

    “Like, what’s the point? This is a couple’s cruise, Brianna. Like, you know, couples? As in, like, no available cute guys?”

    Brianna grinned. “Oh, there’s always one. Come on, Callie! Let’s find him.”

    “Okay. But, like, if he’s another alien, I am so not interested.”

    “Make sense to me.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Valley Girls meet Abbott and Costello? ‘Hold That Ghost’ Are there any such creatures as Valley Guys? There might be a perfect match here. I loved the line about weeding his garden. Like Cool Man!

  11. dustymayjane

    A simple ‘Meet Cute”

    I gazed at the enticing bed with wistful longing for John. I wondered when or if, the loneliness would ever cease. And what made me think I could take a cruise alone? I’ve always had John to hold my hand and take the lead. He was the outgoing one, the one who could make friends with nothing more than an introduction. With a fresh application of lip gloss, my resolve not even slightly renewed, I left the cabin and headed to the deck to join the other travelers. I stood back as happy couples tossed streamers and confetti to the dock below.

    As the ship embarqued on its Caribbean journey, I watched the coastline disappear on the horizon. The crowds at the rail ventured off to join in festivities promised by the cruise line’s colorful brochure. With a groan, I leaned over the rail and watched water ripple by as the ship parted the cerulean mass. Maybe a quick end to my misery could be had. I placed one sandaled foot upon the lowest rail. One more step and I could easily be lost forever in the depths of the Pacific.

    “Excuse me. If you plan on going for a swim, I’d wait until tomorrow. We’ll be in shark free waters by then.”

    Shark bait! I shivered at the thought and returned both feet safely to the deck floor. The deep voice came up behind me and I turned to see a uniformed man standing there.

    “I, um…no, I wasn’t going to…that, that would be silly.” I chuckled nervously. My face heating to the temperature of a skillet. Damn, I hated my uncontrollable blushing. A weakness John had found endearing, at first.

    “Yes. That would be silly.” His voice smooth, like melted caramel.

    He removed his cap and took my hand in introduction. I actually giggled with a snort. Another quirk that caused me distress on a daily basis. Said quirk had become an aggravation for John, as did the blushing.

    My hand was held firmly in his warm grasp. “My name is Stuart, I’m the ship’s doctor. It’s lovely to meet you, Miss?”

    I’d forgotten my name and the ability to speak apparently.

    “Miss?” He gently squeezed my hand.

    “Oh, Kari. Kari Lancaster.” I stumbled. “I mean Jones. Sorry, I was going to be Lancaster before…” I should probably jump over board now before I embarrass myself further.

    “Before?” His hand held mine, awaiting my reply.

    I licked my lips and admired his deeply tanned, ring-less left hand. “Before my wedding was cancelled.” Oh God, please stop talking.

    His brows rose in surprise. “I’m so happy to hear that.” It was his turn to flush red and a snort escaped as he laughed at himself. “I apologize Miss Jones. I hope I didn’t offend you. Does that mean you’re traveling alone?” His ears as red as ripe tomatoes.

    I felt a remarkable kinship “I am.” Adding bravely, “As the ships doctor, perhaps you can prescribe something for mortifying embarrassment?”

    “I’m sure that won’t be necessary.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I really love when romanceis in the air. And it certainly looks that way. You developed your characters beautifully, especially Kari. Even though no physical descriptions were used, their visions came to mind. The conversation was excellent also. You’ve written a nice little gem here.

  12. Hiba Gardezi

    Tell me, reader, have you ever been dumped?
    Does it really feel bad?
    How bad exactly?
    If you proposed such a question before Linley Lee Tinley on the Wednesday that she boarded the Pacific Swimmer with a heavy heart and in hopes of having it lightened, she would’ve cried.
    She would have laid her head against your shoulder with no fear of who you may be and would have told you of how HE left and what HE said the trouble with her was but she would not dare mention who HE was because she would cry then and she already would be crying and that would be very unpleasant.
    So many ‘would bes ’! But wouldn’t you agree that a ‘would be’ in such a case is better than an ‘is’?
    That’s a lot of questions too and now that I have pulled you in I should get to storytelling. Oh, I’ve always preferred an expectant crowd over one babbling and chatting about tomorrow’s function or Laura’s yellow dress that made her look so fat!
    When Linley boarded the ship on the day on which if you asked her one silly question her eyes would fill with tears, she rushed to her room and unpacked. She had heard that there would be a party that evening and socializing, she believed, would be good for her.
    In a pearls and laces looking as lovely as the night sky Linley stepped out of her room at half past eight.
    It only took her a moment to realize what a disastrous two weeks she was to spend.
    She had, three days after a break up, boarded a cruise ship full of couples.
    Men and women, arm in arm walked about the ship. Couples. Only couples.
    It seemed that in her sadness she had not even read the cruise description properly.
    She stood still for a while contemplating the wisdom in returning to her room. How would she bare the party anyway? It would be awful.
    But, could she really do that? Go back and stay away? She could not stay away forever. She had to face reality. Only then would it get better.
    She went out.
    She settled for a spot out of the way of the dances and the eager lovers drunk and laughing, enjoying life as if the perfectness of the present night would live forever.
    But she knew.
    So instead of mingling with those already being mingled with, she went and stood by the railing making a companion out of the sea and the stars and the dark, dark night. She felt the wind crash against her body and the sea against the ship and all the while her mind crashed against her soul as each wrestled for victory. One moment she thought nothing of past love. The next she drowned herself in memories.
    It was during such a serious battle of which she was a mere spectator that a loud voice suddenly brought her attentions to something else.
    A man stood behind her. Glasses on his head scratching his cheek and a small notepad and pencil in hand. He looked young, about her age and had a nice face too. But the glasses of his head and his furrowed brows gave her at first an old and serious impression. He did not seem to notice her.
    As he spoke his fingers swiftly scribbled something across the paper with an ink pen.
    “Hmmm… a ten year old boy!” He laughed contentedly “definitely not. I think this character fits more appropriately as a man. Yes, yes… ” he spoke quietly now “and he has been a sailor! Yes! Yes! He is ummm… forty. Uh, now is that too old? ”
    He turned towards Linley. “Hello miss” he smiled, shaking her hand. “I’m Darcy”
    Hello she said returning the smile Linley.
    Miss Linley he said coming to stand by her side and resting his hand on the railing. I’m a writer, you see. And I was supposed to be boarding a ship of writers going together to a conference in Ireland.
    She gave him a sad look. “That sounds bad.”
    “Oh. it’s terrible! But that’s okay. If only there were more people I could talk to. But everyone’s in couples and no one wants a third person to sit by. You on the other hand are alone.”
    She picked up on his questioning glance.
    “Oh well. My situation isn’t as serious as yours. It’s just that I broke up recently and I thought I would go on a vacation to make myself happy. I don’t think I even checked what kind of a boat it was. Now I’m stuck looking at romantic people and remembering my own boyfriend.
    He let out a painful sound “that’s worse than my situation!”
    “How could that be? It’s my heart that’s broken and your dreams.”
    “Isn’t the heart a more fragile and beautiful thing? I rather be a happy beggar than a well-paid man whom loses his mind and never finds love”
    “Now, I’m not crazy.” she gave him a lopsided smile.
    “Really? Anyone who says dreams …well dreams of careers and money are more important than a happy heart is according to my dictionary crazy”
    “Your dictionary?”
    He brought a thick book in leather binding out of a bad around his neck and tossed it her way.
    She looked at him.
    “My dictionary?”
    She still looked at him.
    “Because the published ones weren’t good enough” he said as if she should understand.
    “I thought of asking you to help me create a character now I’m thinking… can I write about you?”
    “About me?”
    “Sad, sad person. Sad life. Sad view. Sad mind. Please. You’re perfect.”
    She burst into laughter “Go ahead.”
    And in the following days Linley did not once have to worry about being lonely.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A very inventive way to nail the prompt. Who knows where love lies,? Who knows where to look to the future?. The future will come to you if try not to look for it youself and upset the carefulness of plans

    2. Beebles

      Darcy made me think of penfold from dangermouse, if you ever heard of that. Good fun chatty beginning. Made me wonder who was telling the story at times. I’d trust him though he.might get a little intense 🙂

  13. UnclePizza

    ///
    Sorry – blew the wordcount big time. By more than double, and that was after I cut heavily. Call it making up for missing last week? 😉
    ///

    AT SEA

    It stormed the first night, and the young man was scared. The others were too, and the dark hold stank of piss, vomit, and worse. Nobody slept.

    In the morning, after the sea had calmed, the strange men began bringing people up to the deck. They pulled pails of water from the sea and threw them on the scared and confused prisoners. Once rinsed, they were given a little food and water. The food was strange, difficult to chew, and tasted rancid but they ate it because it was all that there was and they were hungry.

    Then, they were made to walk twice around the boat before being sent back below and chained into their racks. The young man, whose name was Adenji, was in the third group brought up to be rinsed, fed, and walked. Although everyone was shackled to another passenger, Adenji walked alone – his “companion” had died during the night. As he walked around the railing of the boat, Adenji looked around guardedly, taking in the strange scene.

    He and the men and women who had been herded onto the boat the day before were naked, their dark skin glistening as it dried in the mid-morning sun. The masters of the boat looked like nobody he had ever seen before. They had pale skin, the color of a plucked bird, wore odd clothes, and had hair that fell loosely against their heads. They talked in a strange language, but it was clear that they were barking orders and held disdain for their living cargo.

    As Adenji looked around, he noticed that the young woman next to him had several thin scars high on her checks in the fashion of one of the neighboring villages. She bumped into him to get his attention and started talking quietly. He learned that her name was Kami, and she told him that these men were taking them to be slaves in a new land.

    “I will never be a slave,” Adenji whispered just as the strange men began herding everyone back below.

    As they were separated, he heard Kami ask, “Can you swim, then?”

    Chained again to his rack, Adenji tried to sleep, but could not. Apparently most others couldn’t either, and in the late afternoon, some men began singing. Others joined in, even those from tribes who didn’t understand all of the words. Soon everyone had joined in, but the singing was cut short when one of the strange men came below, hollering and lashing at people with a short whip.

    On the second morning the passengers were once again taken up to the deck where they were fed, watered, and made to walk. Adenji saw Kami again, and this time she was not shackled to anyone either; her “companion” had also died during the night.

    Adenji managed to make his way along side of Kami and simply whispered: “Yes.”

    “Yes?”

    “Yes, I can swim. I will die before I become a slave. Will you swim with me?”

    “Yes.”

    “Even if it means you may die?”

    “Yes.”

    The crowd slowly circled the deck, and when Adenji was at the back of the boat he took Kami’s hand and gave it a tug before rolling over the railing into the water. The cold water was a shock to his naked body, and he was surprised at the salty taste of it. An instant later he heard a splash as Kami entered the sea beside him. They started swimming immediately, and just as immediately they heard angry shouts coming from the boat.

    The escapees swam hard for several minutes, and when Adenji paused to look back he saw that two of the men had lowered themselves into a small boat and were rowing toward them. Swimming harder now, Adenji and Kami began to put distance between themselves and the small boat, and eventually the men gave up chasing them. They pointed something at the swimmers that made several loud bangs before rowing back to the larger boat, and at one point Adenji heard something whiz by his head like a hornet.

    Once they were out of sight of the strange men and their boat, Adenji and Kami rested by floating on their backs in the salty water. They drifted for a while, too tired to talk, but they held hands so they wouldn’t drift apart. Soon though, Kami tugged Adenji’s hand and they started swimming again, this time more slowly to conserve strength.

    Adenji was confident that they would survive the swim, but his confidence grew thin once the sun had moved several hand lengths across the sky. He and Kami were both strong swimmers, but they were growing exhausted and there was no land in sight. They alternated swimming and resting, and just as Adenji was about to give up hope Kami spotted something in the distance. It came in and out of view as the waves slowly rose and fell, but they swam steadily toward the low shape. Nearly spent, they encouraged each other to keep going, and finally reached the mysterious object.

    It was a made of wooden planks that had been fastened together with strips of metal, like the lid of a large box, but much larger than any box that either of them had ever seen. Tired as they were, Adenji and Kami managed to climb onto the platform, which was just large enough for them to lay on side by side. Hungry, thirsty, and completely exhausted, the two young escapees fell asleep holding fast to one another.

    A cold rain woke them suddenly. It was dark, and they were still hungry and parched, so they happily drank handfuls of cool rain. The rain stopped as quickly as it had started, so they lay down again, holding each other close to stay warm. Neither of them had ever held anyone close before, but they soon lost their shyness and despite their exhaustion they taught themselves to touch like lovers before falling asleep again.

    Their third morning at sea began with another quick rain shower, and the young couple drank their fill once again. They spent the morning laying on their bellies, talking as they used their hands to paddle to the west. At midday a school of fish began leaping around them, and Adenji managed to bat two of them down to Kami who efficiently killed them by pressing her thumb behind their heads and pulling up swiftly from the gills. Having no knife, the escapees had to use their teeth to cut into the fish, but driven by their hunger and with nothing but time on their hands, they were able to make a meal of their catch.

    They rested after their meal, and paddled slowly until dark when they stopped and held each other again. After, they lay on their backs, holding hands so as not to lose each other, and gazed silently at the bright stars. They drifted to sleep, still unsure of what tomorrow would bring, but each still answering “yes” to freedom.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hello Unc. I also think the extra words were put to excellent use. If they left Africa on the way to America, our two freedom seekers have little chance to survive that kind of distsnce. But if a friendly ship comes by, they may receive some kind of mercy. Either way, it’s a powerful beginning of a sage ie: Roots.

      2. UnclePizza

        Thanks Cosi! It was pushing 2,000 words when I came up for air and looked at the word count at the bottom of the screen. It took longer to quickly come up with an ending that didn’t come across as forced than it did to write the initial 99%. I had them drowning – both together and days apart – had sharks come, had them die at night, on and on before coming up with what I posted. So – glad to hear you liked the last line!

        1. UnclePizza

          And thanks Kerry – I really don’t think there’s any way that they’ll make it back to Africa, but figured I’d leave it to the reader to decide. I thought momentarily about going all the way with this since I was on such a roll, but quickly realized that there are already plenty of lost-at-sea and on-the-run stories out there. My guess is that I’ll leave it as-is and not add more chapters.

    1. Beebles

      Dark subject Uncle, but thoroughly enjoyed it. A sense of resignation with a dash of hope at the end there and a good message. It may have been your mention of word count (it didn’t feel long) but it made me look at it more critically and I thought I did see a few ways to streamline it further. Example:so they lay down again, holding each other close to stay warm = lay entwined for warmth. May work, may not. I don’t know if it helps but I often consider a phrase or a word as you would a move in chess, it usually needs to accomplish more than one thing: attack/defence, action/emotion. Just don’t ask me to practice what I preach:). Great story.

  14. Not-Only But-Also Riley

    Charming Catastrophe

    Normally, Dr. Ocean would feel right at home on a cruise. Little had he known, this cruise was not for the likes of him: a lonely supervillain struggling to cope with a breakup with a woman who’d rushed out on him claiming he was “too evil”.

    He laughed at the very notion. There was no such thing as too evil. No, that was not what had pulled at his cold, damp heartstrings. What had bothered Dr. Ocean about this breakup was that she had called him a fake, an evil wannabe Aquaman with no real place in the superhero world.

    And this had bothered him because he feared it was true.

    So, instead of drowning the lovers on the romantic cruise with a huge wave, he drowned his sorrows at the bar. And he found that as couples were called to the dance floor only he and one other woman remained. He turned to her.

    She was beautiful. Her hair was so blonde it was almost white, and her skin as pale as the white of the ship. She wore a tiny outfit that could mean only one thing: she was either a superhero, or supervillain. Dr. Ocean decided to take a chance and spoke up to her.

    “Why aren’t you out on the dance floor?” he asked her looking into her cool blue eyes.

    “I’m not here for dancing actually,” she said simply, tipping her drink back but maintaining eye contact with him.

    “Oh? Then what are you here for? ‘Cause surely you aren’t here just to drink.” Dr. Ocean thought maybe he was coming on too strong. Besides, what if she was a hero? If that was the case Dr. Ocean didn’t stand a chance with her.

    “No, I’m not. But that’d be nice,” she smiled and Dr. Ocean noticed that her lips had a faint blue tint, “I’m actually going to freeze the water for a couple days. Leave us stranded here and hope it gets me some attention. Makes me known.”

    “How exactly do you plan to do that?” Dr. Ocean asked. He was letting his hopes get the best of him. She reached over to him and grabbed his drink. The entire drink immediately froze into one solid block of ice.

    “I’m a supervillain,” she told him. Dr. Ocean couldn’t help but smile. He’d gambled and it had payed off, “that’s how.”

    “Oh really?” Dr. Ocean said and with a flick of his wrist he made her drink leap out of her glass and float before her, “Because I am too.” She smiled wide and watched the drink float and then finally fall back into the glass.

    “You can control liquids?!” she asked. She was absolutely amazed. Dr. Ocean nodded.

    “Well this is going to be interesting then,” she said putting her hand on his arm and sending a chill through his body.

    They both smiled at the chaos to come.

  15. TheAwkwardLlama

    Amelia tried to stare past the black surface of the water, to make out any shapes in the water below. The ocean in the harbor, however, was inscrutable. She tried to focus on it, as if to meditate, but never in her life had she been able to do so. Her mind kept tugging at the thought of Richard.
    Perhaps if she was the sort of person who was able to meditate, she would have been able to stay faithful to him. Maybe some people’s bodies wander the way minds do. She still couldn’t explain, even to herself, why she had slept with their friend; the act had simply seemed inevitable at the time. She certainly hadn’t been able to explain it to Richard, who had eventually discovered the betrayal.
    No amount of tears, apologies, or promises on her part had saved the relationship. The weeping had only dragged out the pain for both of them. When they first started dating, for the first time in Amelia’s life she had been able to imagine settling down, marrying Richard, bearing his children. And yet she had crushed that dream in the most painful way imaginable. In some attempt to understand herself, in the last sleepless nights, she had Googled information about cheating, but most of the articles described men. Richard would never have cheated on her.
    An ad about this cruise had popped up, and she’d booked herself passage when she realized it was over. So now she found herself trying to meditate on the ocean, while moony couples congealed all over the deck. She found herself wondering if drowning would be more painful than the memory of what she’d done to Richard. Well, she’d have two weeks to think about it, anyway.
    “I wonder how cold it is, down there.”
    Amelia looked up, and a man was also leaning against the railing, staring into the harbor. He glanced at her when he saw he’d gotten her attention.
    “Might not be so bad compared to two weeks of being forced to witness PDA,” he continued. “My apologies if you’re a partaker.”
    “Ah, no,” Amelia replied.
    “Are you one of my few fellow singles onboard?” He apparently took Amelia’s expression for assent. “Well, if it’s all right with you we’ll probably speak again. My company sent me here, and you might be the one thing keeping me from suicide.”
    This man was forward. She used to like that. It meant action. She smiled, out of a sense of obligation. “Same here.” Her tone was more heartfelt than she meant.
    He gave her a quick smile and walked away. Amelia looked back down into the ocean, and then she turned around in the direction of the cabins. Life would go on, with or without her horrible decisions, and the ocean would still be there if she changed her mind.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Beautiful, concise story, leaving the reader to ask for more. Prehaps closure belongs to the reader but I would rather find out what ticks in the writer’s mind. The last sentence is fine art.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      I was reminded of Kate, in the Percy Walker novel The Moviegoer, who believed having the option of suicide kept her alive. Very thought provoking take on the prompt.

  16. cosi van tutte

    Sorry about all of the heavy lifting from Katy Perry. But it just fit the story (and I’m kind of in love with that song).

    ****

    “You just gotta ignite the night and let it shine. Just own the night like the Fourth of July…”

    Elsie closed her eyes to the ship’s list and roll and lost herself in Katy Perry’s triumphant anthem of self-empowerment and awesomeness.

    Yet, even then, Ambrose crept into her mind. The tone of his voice. His touch. His cologne.

    Their last confrontation.

    She turned the volume up higher.

    “‘CAUSE BABY YOU’RE A FIREWORK!! COME ON SHOW THEM WHAT YOU’RE WORTH!!”

    Yet, Katy’s loud voice failed to banish Ambrose’s ghost.

    Elsie opened her eyes and turned off her i-Pod. “I need some fresh air. That’s all.” She climbed out of bed, pulled on her robe, and left her cabin.

    She walked out onto the main deck. The only other person out there was a deck hand with a mop and a bucket.

    She smiled a greeting at him and headed over to the railing.

    “You be careful over there.” said the deck hand. “You go over, you’re kind of stuck. I’m not too good in the swimming department.”

    “I’ll be fine.”

    “Hope so.” He dunked his mop into the bucket and went to work. As he mopped, he whistled Una Furtiva Lagrima.

    “I’ll be fine.” But will I? She rested her elbows on the railing and looked up at the full moon in the black ocean sky. She could almost feel a man’s arm wrapped around her, holding her close. But who? Hildreth? Ambrose?

    She wanted it to be Hildreth. She knew that it should be Hildreth. But Ambrose’s warm voice filled her thoughts.

    I should have staked him when I had the chance. After all, I did stake Hildreth and he was my husband. I should have staked Ambrose too. I should have ignored his words, his taunts, his…everything. I would have too.

    She sighed. If only that vampires’ right activist hadn’t barged in at that moment. He had encouraged her.

    A bitter feeling singed her throat.

    He had left with her.

    The coward.

    The traitor.

    I thought he loved me. Maybe he never did. Maybe I was always just a free and easy meal to him. And why not? He is a vampire. How could I expect him to see me as anything more than that?

    The deck hand stopped whistling. He set the mop into the bucket with a clank and walked over to her side. “Are you okay, miss? I heard you crying.”

    She wiped away her tears. “I wasn’t crying.”

    “Okay. If you say so. Still. That doesn’t look like ocean spray on your face.”

    She smiled. It was a weak, pathetic example of a smile. “I’m sorry. I recently broke up with my..” Boyfriend? That doesn’t feel like the right word for him. “…significant other.”

    “Ahh. Married?”

    “Yes. I mean…no. My husband. He died.”

    “Ahh. So, this significant other was…?”

    “Complicated.”

    He nodded his head as if he knew exactly what that meant. “Do you want to talk about either one?”

    She laughed – short and surprised. “With you?”

    “Hey! I may be a lowly deck hand, but I’m not no one.”

    “I never said that you were.” And she meant it.

    “I’ve been through my own slew of bad relationships. I could tell you all about it over a bowl of morning porridge or afternoon stew. If you want.”

    She hesitated. “Are you asking me out on a date?”

    “Yup. Sure am.”

    After all of my drama with Ambrose and Hildreth, do I want another man in my life? But he isn’t trying to get into my life. He’s only asking for a date. Nothing more than that. Besides, he seems so normal. I want normal in my life. “What time were you thinking?”

    “Whatever time works with you.”

    “Hmm.” In her mind she could hear Katy Perry sing, “If you only knew what the future holds. After a hurricane comes a rainbow.”

    She smiled. And, for the first time in several months, it was a genuine smile. “Let’s go with the afternoon stew. That sounds fabulous.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      It’s a great way to start off. with a song to guide you. You bring us into the depth’s of the MC to find what makes her tick. And the deckhand may be far more than he appears. My thought, [He’s wealthy, stinking rich and wants to find a girl who wants him for himself, not what he is. Think of that for a theme for part two. If you remember “How To Marry A Millionaire” this theme was used with great success. Get after it cosi.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Hi, Kerry!

        To be completely honest, I was going to have the deck hand turn out to be a werewolf. That would just be poor Elsie’s luck to go from vampire love interest to werewolf love interest. But my mention of the full moon kind of killed that idea. Still, it is possible that he is more than he seems. You never can tell. 😀

  17. Observer Tim

    DOOMED LOVE

    I took a second look around; nobody there, thank the stars. I leaned against the railing and looked up at Jupiter hanging overhead, then down at Calisto a hundred kilometers below and dropping. This part of the ship was usually avoided when the ship was leaving port, mostly because of the impression that the gas giant was falling on us. I didn’t mind; that was what my world was doing anyway.

    Sadie and I had broken up very publicly. Her favourite Artificial, Lucy, had died and it was somehow my fault because my team at Duplicorp had failed to find a cure. Sadie accused me of inventing the plague that was wiping out humanity’s cloned servants, and the news feeds agreed with her. I had to get some distance between myself and known space or I’d be lynched.

    I’d chosen the first ship out, a three-week tour of the Centaurus system, without realizing it was a newlyweds’ cruise. Everyone on board was one of a pair, which just reminded me that Sadie and I were supposed to be married by now.

    My dolor was interrupted by a woman’s voice.

    “That insufferable pig!

    She was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, with perfect azure eyes and perfect pouty lips and a body as perfectly proportioned as a Renaissance statue. She was wearing a white sun dress that complemented her perfectly tanned skin and the only thing not perfect was that she was crying.

    “What’s wrong, miss?”

    “He promised this cruise was just for us! And then I found him with his wife!” Her perfect eyes looked at me and widened. “Wait, it’s you, isn’t it? Doctor Parker?”

    I sighed; there goes everything. “Yes, it’s me.”

    The ship heeled around, bringing the Great Red Spot into clear view behind her; a perfect storm to match the storm of anger I knew was coming.

    She smiled sadly. “I’m so sorry for you.”

    Huh? Where was the anger? The disgust? “Sorry? Why are you sorry for me?”

    “You tried so hard before your funding got cut; I think the company threw you under the passenger transport.”

    “But… we were failing. And what Sadie said…”

    “Is she your girl?”

    “Was.”

    “She’s an idiot; a useless human idiot.”

    “Human?”

    “Yeah. I’m an Artificial; couln’t you tell?”

    “I’ve never seen an Artificial so… so… in that way.”

    “My name’s Two-Two-Four; I was just diagnosed with the clone plague, and my owner brought me on this cruise as a last fling because humans are immune. But he brought his wife! He just discarded me!”

    That was the Artificials’ situation; people treated them just enough like humans to bring out their emotions, then discarded them like trash. I’d thought the ones that did it were cruel sickos.

    Then Sadie did it to me.

    “How long have you got?”

    “About two weeks. I was hoping they’d be the best two weeks of my life.”

    I took her in my arms and wiped away her tears. “They will be.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Well, the man is back! And with a bombshell of a story as usual. Where have you been? A trip to the stars? At Murphy’s Bar and Grill, somewhere in Canada? I know you’re nowhere near me, if youy’re smart. Good lord, the heat! Back to your story, most inventive, as usual. I wish you would continue, you and your new clone girl friend, running into Two-Two-Four’s owner and his wife. Let the cat fight ensue.

      1. Penney

        Agreed, impressive. All tied up in a nutshell but at the same time expandable. At first I don’t read futuristic then BAM, I’m in outer space. I mildly question the placement of the information in the second paragraph then jumping back to the cruise. I also began to wonder if the MC was a clone too. Where did I see(possible movie) where the scientist was actually the clone/robot too because the scientist died but made another self to continue on? Anyway great premise clone falling in love with clone? Once again your stories are good as is, expandable or great ideas for others to work out

        1. Observer Tim

          Thanks, Penney. This story suffered somewhat on the altar of 500 (I didn’t want to just jump in to blowing it completely). With more words I’d have had the MC’s breakup with his fiancé worked into the text, and made it clear that he’s a human.

          I don’t know about a movie, but I’ve written it into a couple of short pieces. It also featured on an episode of Stargate SG-1, except they were robots.

          The big issue is that the story is about the people, and the fact that no matter how awful people treat “non-people”, they treat each other the same way. More’s the pity.

      2. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Kerry; actually I’ve been slaving over a hot word processor working on Me to the Nth Power, trying to get from point A to B and rewriting over and over again. We alternate between baking and drowning up here, but the thunderstorms are AWESOME!

        This story suffered somewhat from cutting, and ties in to an envisioned sequel to the big piece I’m working on right now. I was thinking about what has now happened twice to the world banana crop, since they’re a (plant) species of clones.

        I think a meeting between Two-Two-Four’s owner and the human MC would not go well… I may write it. 🙂

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Tim, I echo the welcome backs. I always enjoy how you pull the reader right in to the worlds you create. I think everyone is going to have a great cruise.

    3. cosi van tutte

      Hi, OT!

      There is just so much awesome with this story. I especially loved the visual in this line: “The ship heeled around, bringing the Great Red Spot into clear view behind her; a perfect storm to match the storm of anger I knew was coming.” Just so wonderful!

    4. Bushkill

      OT, good to see you back … I remember with fondness your creativity and style. I hadn’t even contemplated a space based cruise. Outstanding! And I love your comment above about the Altar of 500. Great take.

  18. chandra_wd_writer

    I just tried writing something to keep the habit alive and keep practicing. I am not sure how it turned out, though. Hope it’s fine. Any feedback is welcome.

    If I were Tolstoy, I would summarize my marriage like this: All happy marriages are alike; each unhappy marriage is unhappy in its own way.

    Our happiness was like everyone else’s: decent jobs, big house, weekend parties, international holidays, mid-thirties with good health. But happiness, like everything else, had an expiry date in our marriage. Only we did not know until it actually expired. First the attraction, then slowly love, and then finally happiness.

    I can’t believe that’s where I ended up after three years of marriage, and five years of dating the only woman whom I ever loved. Well, I am not the one to blame everything on her. We fell apart before we realized we were falling apart. And then there was no way to piece the complex puzzle together. We were left with a lot of broken and missing pieces.

    For some reason, she always wanted to go on a cruise. That’s probably something I would never have done even if I lived with her for the rest of my life. There are things that I believe are hardwired into our brains; especially those unreasonable fears.

    Ironically, three months after our divorce, going on a cruise felt like my only option to forget and move on. I had no idea why. I did not tell anyone. And there I was on this giant ship that reminded me of nothing comforting than the tragic Titanic.

    It was my first day, and it took me only a few minutes to realize how pathetic that one month was going to be. The only thing that I wanted to forget was love. But it was everywhere around me, in the air, and in the sea.

    People were lost in time and space. Kissing, hugging, dancing, partying, smiling, laughing, crying. Everything and everyone in that ship reminded me of nothing but our failed love. But there was no looking back. We had already sailed long enough, and all I could see around the ship was the blue water which reminded me of her crystal blue eyes.

    What was I going to do for a month? If I were Papa, I would have probably started writing a novel about my experience: A Lost Man and the Sea.

    I sat in the bar which for a moment made me forget I was actually on a cruise. That feeling was comforting. I consciously assumed I was in some bar in San Francisco. Well, why San Francisco? That’s where I lived for all my life. Too close to the sea, but too afraid of going into it.

    Nobody would have noticed my presence if I weren’t reading “Moby Dick” under that dim light and loud noise. Why would I do that? I don’t know. All my life I wanted to just read books and do nothing else. All my life, I also wanted to write a book. One month to read now, but writing I never know. I carried all the books I ever wanted to read and the books I ever wanted to re-read—like the one I was holding in my hands. Who would read it twice? I ask, who wouldn’t.

    That’s when I heard a beautiful voice that made all the noise around me go on mute. It’s like those scenes in movies where they suddenly take out all the sound.

    “Hello,” she said. I heard the voice first and then saw her as I lifted my head up.

    I stood up from the chair I was sitting on for an hour, mostly to relax my aching butt, and also out of that natural instinct when we see a beautiful woman in a place where we least expect.

    “Hello,” I said and immediately hid the book behind me. It was embarrassing, which for some reason, I never thought about until then. A couple of drinks probably did the trick.

    We shook hands, exchanged names, and exchanged a few man-meets-woman glances. The loud music was still muted. Luckily, the man who sat beside me just walked away. So she settled into that chair, and I into the same chair where I was sitting moments ago. I was still hiding the book.

    “I saw you reading a book? What book was it?” she asked, making me face my embarrassment head on.

    “Oh, never mind. I was alone, and I did not know how to kill time. I am not that weird, you know,” I said as if that would make me look cooler than what she probably thought I was. A man reading a book in a bar, that too, on a cruise ship.

    “That’s totally fine, in fact, I was reading a book too. So no need to be, you know…” she said. I cut her sentence in the middle as I pulled the book from the bottom and handed it to her.

    “You are kidding me, right? Moby Dick. Really.” she said.

    I did not say anything for a few moments. I wasn’t sure what she thought about me. Then she excused herself and left.

    I watched her walk past as she shouldered a lot of love birds lost in eternal embraces.

    She came back in a few minutes, and she showed me her book. She was reading the same book too. That’s when I realized why she was so surprised.

    I laughed, and that eased me a bit as I was no more embarrassed.

    We talked about everything. Books, life, death, god, sea, and everything else. Except love. Except our pasts. I felt I like I never existed before I met her. For some reason, we never asked each other about our past. Maybe her past was like mine.

    In a few hours, half the crowds left the bar. And the other half were drunken enough not to notice us and our books. After midnight, we said goodbyes and decided to meet in the bar next day evening. To do some reading and to do some talking.

    I went back to my room. For a long time, I could not sleep. The long-buried feelings of getting attracted to a woman overwhelmed the alcohol in my body. Finally, for the first time after our divorce, I felt alive. As alive as I was when the first time I met Sarah, my ex-wife, that is.

    I didn’t know when I slept, but when I woke up it was well past noon. I ate lunch and waited for the evening. It did not matter if it was evening or morning on the ship. Only my phone would know it. I never cared.

    I went to the bar at six in the evening as we planned and waited there. Unlike last time, I dressed like a gentleman with whatever clothes I had carried with me. I started reading the same book, but I was not really trying to understand anything.

    Probably after I read fifty pages, I started looking for her in the bar. I did not find her anywhere. I waited for a few more hours. I did not know anything more than her name. Emily or Amy or was it Anna? One of those. I did not want to check with anyone as I thought I would meet her if not that day, the next day, or the day after. I had four weeks.

    I went back to my room after I ate a sandwich.

    I opened my laptop and checked my email. Something I rarely checked in those days.

    The first mail was from the guest whom I rented my house for a month. I listed my home on the Internet. Not for making money, but I was pestered by a new neighbor of mine who was minting money by renting his house. I just wanted to please him and also wanted to try something new, just for the sake of doing something new.

    Subject: There is a bottle of pills on the table with a tag “do not forget”

    I did not open the mail. I knew what I forgot. Then I realized why that woman did not show up. Damn those pills. How did I forget? But in a few moments, I realized, maybe it’s for good. Perhaps, I will meet more interesting people than I would ever meet in my real life. Maybe, I will write a book about this. Or maybe not.

    I closed the laptop and drifted off into sleep. I wasn’t sure whom I was going to meet the next day.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Well, for one thing, you led me, teased me and gently pushed me through your story with amazing, romantic detail and then you dropped me and left me to finish your story in my mind. I thought about three or four avenues I might take it and if you’re not careful, I might tag on and do it, even though I seriously doubt it would be anywhere near your thoughts about the dead. This is an impressive story to say the least. Maybe a fourth option where the great whale destroys the entire ship and four thousand people slide to a waterery grave, incuding your MC and his imaginary girl friend.

      Do you think you might have stirred me up enough?

      1. Penney

        Nice conversation with self. As always Kerry evaluates well. But, your ending actually puts me into the relm of DID. That is only because I just got finished with a 3 season marethon of “United States of Tara” with Toni Collette. Leaving the pills behind could let the personalities out and as the ending of your piece is, it will be interesting to see who else he meets. Nicely done, especially if that was where you were going g.

      2. chandra_wd_writer

        Thanks, Kerry! I did play around with “death” as an ending. I was about to kill her on the boat and he finds notes in the book about her past. They accidentally swapped their books. Honestly, I was nervous about ending the story badly. I am still new to this forum, and creative writing in general. I actually couldn’t make out from your comments if you liked the ending or not, though I understood you liked the story. Talk about the random troubles of a non-native speaker 🙂

        But your great whale destroying the ship, is a really great idea. It never occurred to me, but I did think about destroying the ship in other ways. Thanks again for taking time to read. I am so overwhelmed with all the amazing people in this forum since I joined a couple of months ago.

        1. chandra_wd_writer

          Thanks, Penney. I was thinking he had problems with hallucinations and he actually finally saw the positive side of it as he is bored with the real people. So somewhat close to DID, but not exactly. I am glad you liked the story.

    2. JosephFazzone

      Great story as it is tragically sad. I did enjoy the twist, but the optimistic romantic in me would have loved for her to be real. Bummer! Still amazing idea and the myriad of possible stories that could spawn from this are endless. Very cool indeed.

      1. chandra_wd_writer

        Thanks, Joseph. I am glad you liked the story. Yes, I can probably try developing more after this. I couldn’t think of a good way to make her real.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      While I enjoyed the entire story, I thought the first part, the description of the marriage breaking apart, was just great, especially the puzzle. It is nice, I suppose, that he can be positive about his unmedicated condition.

      1. chandra_wd_writer

        Thanks, Reatha. I am really glad you enjoyed the story and descriptions in the first half. Honestly, I am not sure where he is headed. But I believe he is going to write a book about his experience.

      1. chandra_wd_writer

        Haha… I wish, too. I ran out of ideas in short time about how to make her real. And I always wanted to use such pills in my stories 🙂 Thanks for reading, Cosi.

  19. Witt.Stanton

    I climbed into the cardboard boat, pulling my backpack in behind me. It had been a long day, mostly because my boyfriend Joseph Carter had stopped being my boyfriend, but also because our teacher had skipped nap time. Mom had always said that I got grouchy when I didn’t have a nap.

    A red crayon slid out of my mostly-closed backpack pocket, along with my two pencils and pink eraser. I made a frustrated growl, crossed my arms, and continued to pout. I kicked at one of the pencils but missed. I quickly rubbed the dent out of the side of the cardboard box, then snuggled into one of it’s corners, closing the flaps on the top of the box.

    A bird landed in the grass close to the box, nibbling at the ground. A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth when it didn’t see me. As I peaked out of the small hole in the box, I watched it hop around with another one of it’s tiny bird friends.

    I forgot that I was supposed to be sad, so I picked up the crayon and began to draw the rest of the boat. I gave the side of the box windows and the front a pointy deck that had a lot of people on it. I even drew carpet on the bottom of the box. That made it more comfortable to sit in.

    I was in the middle of drawing the curtains when I heard a car pull into the driveway, gravel crunching under its tires. The flaps opened and a pair of hands lifted me out of the boat. “Hey there, Jitterbug,” my dad laughed, swinging me into the air. I shrieked and grabbed at his face. “What’cha up to?”

    He set me on the ground, and I collapsed into a fit of giggles when he tickled my sides. “Building a boat,” I panted as I lay back in the grass, pointing happily at the box. I watched him critically look over my work, asking me about each person on the deck and peering into all of the windows.

    “I see,” said Dad at last. He crouched down next to me, his blue eyes sparkling. He proudly ruffled my hair. “You learn well, for someone so young.” I laughed again when he picked me up and carried me back to his car. He began taking out his work suitcase and folders, stacking him in his other arm. I grabbed a folder from him, holding it carefully so the paper wouldn’t fall out.

    “Much like you, I’m a professional builder,” he continued, slamming the car door shut.

    “You’re an architect,” I said, stumbling over the word. He laughs.

    “Yes, an architect. I draw houses, and other buildings for people. You know what? I could use your advice for one of my drawings. That is, if you’re not too busy working on your boat.”

    I nodded very seriously, and he smiles, kissing my forehead. “I knew I could count on you, kiddo.” I watch him absentmindedly rub at the place where his wedding ring used to be, his face suddenly sad. “I knew I could count on you.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Witt, this is a real heart tugger. Your description of the son is vivid, beautiful and imaginative. Any man who treats his son this way would be a rare catch for a woman. The reader wonders if she left him or died suddenly. Because he no longer wore his wedding band, my thoughts are, she left him and her son. Good riddence to her for leaving her son this way.

      1. Penney

        Nice how the kids escape into the box is wrapped in metaphor for the father’s lose, the kids lose of the schoolmate romance and even possibly the kids lose of his mother. Finished with the father rescuing the child from heartache. Great angle

    1. igonzales81

      Good story. I like how you wrote the kid’s perspective, making everything seem to important yet so easy to be distracted from. Very well done.

  20. ReathaThomasOakley

    Horace visits his daughter
    (A slight nod to the prompt)
    1907

    “She don’t look much like Sarah,” Horace said as he watched the sturdy child toddle across the porch, a soft cloth doll clutched in one small fist.

    “Ain’t got her nature, neither,” Mildred, the taller of the two women, said as she lifted the little girl, who struggled to get away before she was carried down the steps and set on the sandy ground.

    “She’s a fiery one, this girl is,” the other woman, Edna, said with an indulgent smile. “‘Bout all we can do to keep her from hurtin’ herself, so busy she is from time she wakes up ’til second dark.”

    “But, you can keep her, can’t you?” Horace asked from the straight chair he’d propped against the wall of the house. “I ain’t got no way…”

    “Horace, she been ours since you left her. We tended to her, loved her, and we ain’t never gonna do no different.” Edna sat back in the rocking chair. “We ‘preciate you sendin’ out groceries and goods with Desi’s daughter, but this girl’s ours.” Edna watched as Mildred guided the child to the garden.

    “Horace, you know Sarah didn’t run out on you. You know she was a good girl, no matter what folks been sayin’,” Edna paused. “It was you what went after her, if you hadn’t…”

    “You think I don’t know that, ain’t one day goes by I don’t wish I could go back,” Horace let out a sob. “That day, that day, there I was, wore out workin’ on that house, that battle ship of a house,” Horace laughed. “I ain’t never thought it that way. Not a battle ship, no, one a them big boats what comes down the St. Johns, Northern tourists, all dressed up, standin’ up high, lookin’ down on common folks, on fools wishin’ they was up there.” Horace stood.

    “Even ‘fore I saw Sarah I knowed Sue Ann didn’t really want me, just wanted what I could give her,” he looked out to the pines as if he was back in time.

    “There I was, up high in my big boat, lookin’ down, prideful, but somethin’ not right, then I seen her. Little slip of a thing, draggin’ that bag, lookin’ lost. But, when I called down to her, she straightened right up, put down her bag, righted that little hat she was wearin’,” Horace pulled himself back from the past.

    “But, if I could, I don’t know, even with everthing’s happened, even with my ship sinkin’, I don’t know what I’d change.” He went down the steps toward his daughter. “Don’t know, just don’t know.”

    1. JosephFazzone

      Oh Poor Horace! Just tortured every where he turns. I’m always hoping he will turn it around and have that happy ending. He better step it up if he wants it to work, or is it too late? I guess I will have to keep reading to find out. Great job!!!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Taking me bach to your magic Reatha. I’m so used to these characters, maybe you should just keep writing about them each week. I fell in the same slot Josepd did. Horace just keeps on torturing himself.

        1. Penney

          Been away again for a long while but jumping into this piece was so pleasant I just wanted to find out more. Nice as a stand alone piece or whatever has been going on.

          1. ReathaThomasOakley

            Penney, thank you so much. This is part of something I started January, 2015, that started in 1960, then went back to 1905, and will end in 1970. There have been a few weeks when I just couldn’t work the prompt into the saga.

        2. ReathaThomasOakley

          Kerry, thank you so much. I do worry this will turn into an old radio soap like my grandpa listened to every afternoon. It is fun to see each week how the prompt might guide the story.

      2. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you, Joseph, for reading and keeping up with these folks. I do fear it will be long time before things work out for Horace.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Reatha!

      I loved this part, because it is so true, considering the type of woman she grows up to be: “Ain’t got her nature, neither,” Mildred, the taller of the two women, said as she lifted the little girl, who struggled to get away before she was carried down the steps and set on the sandy ground.
      “She’s a fiery one, this girl is,” 🙂 I couldn’t imagine Granny being a well-behaved porcelain doll as a child.

      And, even though I feel bad for Horace, I couldn’t help cheering a little on this part: “Horace, she been ours since you left her. We tended to her, loved her, and we ain’t never gonna do no different.” Edna sat back in the rocking chair. “We ‘preciate you sendin’ out groceries and goods with Desi’s daughter, but this girl’s ours.” You tell him! 🙂

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you so very much for this comment and for keeping up with my characters. I think I’m getting closer to having the times merge. I’m trying to find a way for Desi’s daughter to be motel owner Mrs. Tuggle’s mother or grandmother.

    3. Beebles

      There you go again, just tripping something out that isn’t writing. Its just being, like the words aren’t there at all and the meaning works by osmosis. I could pick out a number of lines for their punch and simplicity but the one at the start just read so well for rhythm etc – a soft cloth doll clutched in one small fist. Don’t know why it just pleased me.

  21. JosephFazzone

    It’s not that I’m afraid of commitment. I’m allergic to it. I break out in hives, I become increasingly agitated, and I start speaking with a British accent. It’s all really silly, and most of my friends chalk it up to some fear of commitment, but like I tell them, I don’t have a fear of commitment. I’m allergic to it. Seems repetitive doesn’t it? Well, here I am, on board the luxury liner Casanova for a two week cruise to points anywhere but home. The first thing that I should have noticed was the enormous amount of couples boarding the vessel. That would have been my first inclination that I was setting myself to be the ultimate third wheel at sea.

    The steward looked at me funny when I checked my bag asking me where the missus was. The nerve of some people, I told him quite sternly that she was currently being plowed by a farmer in Dubois, Wyoming. That information also served in lieu of a tip. Maybe next time he won’t be so nosey.

    I leaned on the rail, staring into the horizon. I saw a small flock of brown pelicans fly off towards the setting sun. The light breeze, the fresh air, the beautiful view should have served as some sort of cure all for the heart ache I was feeling, but no weight was lifted. In fact, the beauty and splendor only heightened my awareness of just how alone I felt. Two weeks to go.

    In the middle of my bet with myself as to how long I would last before leaping into the vast ocean and drowning my misery along with myself, I heard a polite cough over my left shoulder.

    A vision of sapphire for eyes, golden locks with curls for days, and a figure fit and firm, my pulse doubled. I stared slack jawed, bug eyed for what seemed like an eternity, when she finally giggled and said. “You could say hello.”

    Her down to earth charm broke through the nervousness, and I suddenly was myself again. “I could, but hello wouldn’t suffice for a beauty such as you.”

    She winked and laughed. “It just might.”

    “Hello.”

    “Hello.”

    What a wonder she was, all alone as well amongst a sea of shared pairs, we were the lone aces on a ship in the sea bound for points anywhere but here. Two weeks was not going to be long enough. I might just need forever now.

    “Nice to know that I’m not the only odd duck,” I told her.

    “Seriously, my roommate suckered me into this promising that there would be hot single guys here,” she said flatly.

    “I’m about 98.6,” I confessed.

    “Hot enough.” Her tone was so light so free. Her wit dazzled her beauty down to second rose.

    It was admittedly a futile effort to retain the enthusiasm. It almost seemed too good to be true. “I’m Ken.”

    She smiled slightly, “I’m Barbie!”

    “So this must be the dreamboat,” I said as I began to feel a bit itchy and twitchy. This time it felt welcomed.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Nice entry to your story Joseph. You followed the prompt perfectly. I liked the sentence about the brown pelicans flying off to the setting sun and also the line that Ken throws, “I’m about 98.6”
      Ken and barbie come to life on a two week cruise. Itchy and twitchy bliss. Perfect. Let’s hope the boat stays afloat.

    2. igonzales81

      Really good story. I’ve never heard Barbie described quite that way. Then again, I’ve never heard Ken do the describing. Good take on the prompt.

  22. E.T. Nell

    500 words, on the nose.

    Ghost Ship

    “Till death do us part.” That’s how the words go, right?

    Tell that to my ex wife.

    The last thought I had as our cruise ship collided with that iceberg and sank to the bottom of the ocean, dragging us along with it, was that I would finally know some peace. Her shrill nagging had a life of its own, however, and not even the depths of the icy ocean that became our grave would silence her.

    Yes, there is life after death. It’s a sad mimicry of what we know while blood and heat and passion still course through our veins, but it is there. It is a cold and dismal thing, but it is there, and my ex was determined to make our unlife on the ocean floor as miserable for me as she had before our ship sank.

    I thought I would never be free of her; that God had truly forsaken me. I spent many nights on the deck of our sunken liner, drifting along aimlessly, admiring the sea critters that had taken up residence with us, chatting with other passengers, and avoiding my wife at all costs.

    My salvation came one fateful night as I sat on deck, chatting with a rather friendly American. We were discussing some of the sketches he had drawn in life and debating the buoyancy of wooden doors when the woman walked past us. She was dressed in a shimmering evening gown that would have done nothing to fight back the chill of the ocean water were she still alive for such things to matter. Nonetheless, it seemed to dance about her in the ocean current.

    The American and I both stood as she passed, removing our hats as gentlemen do when a lady passes.

    “Good evening, madam,” I stammered. I had never seen her before tonight, and was struck by her beauty.

    “Evenin’ ma’am,” said the fellow by my side. He seemed far more comfortable than I in the presence of such a lovely woman. Cheeky Americans.

    “Howdy boys,” the woman replied. Her accent placed her somewhere in the south of the States. Having never been, I guessed Texas. “Lovely night for a stroll.” Her lips curled up in an impish grin.

    Her eyes met mine and for a brief moment I knew warmth again. After a moment of awkward silence my American friend cleared his throat and bid us a good evening before drifting away. Neither of us replied, however. Our eyes were locked, and in that embrace nothing could disturb us.

    “I’m Rosalie,” she finally said, after what seemed a brief eternity.

    “Frederick,” I replied. “It’s my pleasure, Rosalie.”

    “It sure is Frederick,” she said as she took my arm and walked with me along the deck. “Are you a married man, Frederick?” My name on her tongue sounded like angels in chorus. I hesitated for a moment before I replied, trying to sound more confident than I felt.

    “Not anymore. I’m afraid my wife passed recently.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Whoe boy, I liked the theme you used and the setting you describe
      And the look when.their eyed met
      As for Rodalie’s accent. I’d say Arkansas or Oklahoma. Not Texas. Little does.it matter.with s zinger for a last line
      Your story had everything going for it
      Especially the imagination
      Really good job here.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      What a very creative take on this prompt. However, I suspect his pleasure might be short lived, that wife won’t give up that easily.

    3. JosephFazzone

      Interesting tale of love beyond the grave. Very creative. I love the line about the MC enjoying the sea creatures that took up residence, and the whole idea of the day to day feel of their afterlife. Cool story!

  23. Kerry Charlton

    AFFAIRE DE COEUR

    .

    Denise was the only woman Brian had ever desired. Since grade school and

    growing up together, they were inseparable. In high school Denise had shed her tomboy

    image and blossomed into a red head that rivaled Rita Hayworth.. Denise went to Brown

    and Brian to Harvard. They drew apart slowly at first and then Brian received a ’Dear

    John’. School let out in May and Brian jumped on the first cruise available out of Ft.

    Lauderdale.

    Leaning on the ships rail, he watched the couples in the moonlight. ‘What have I

    got myself into? Romance everywhere but all girls taken.’

    “You’re not about to jump are you?”

    Brian swung around to see a vision of beauty. Maybe in her late thirties, but what

    a thirties she was.

    “I don’t think so, I’m afraid of heights. And why do you ask?”

    “You look like a love-sick puppy.”

    “I do? I didn‘t realize a broken heart would show.”. ‘Why did I say something so

    stupid?’

    She laughed the joy of an angel’s amusement.

    “Broken hearts mend. The death of a husband never quite does“

    “I‘m so sorry. My name‘s Brian Chesterfield.’

    “Thank you, call me Laura.”

    “Just Laura?”

    “Laura Brigsley.”

    “Brad Brigsley, the race driver who crashed at the Indianapolis 500?”

    “Yes, it’s been a year or two, I lost count.” She started to weep.

    Brian held her and stroked her beautiful hair, the color of a desert sunset..

    Tears still flowed as she looked at Brian,

    “I’ve cried a river of tears over Brad. Somehow you make it better. Do you

    mind?”

    She placed her lips on Brian’s and kissed him gently.

    He swept her up in his strong arms,

    “Somehow, we both need to forget, if only for a short time.”

    “I’m on the deck level suite 117.”

    An hour went by. Both lay across each other. Laura held Brian’s head to her

    breast, ran her fingers gently across his face,

    “You have a Roman nose, I like that, reminds me of Italians“

    “Was you husband Italian?”

    She giggled like a school girl,

    “Not that I know of. There once was a boy I loved years ago, but it didn’t work

    out.”

    “Do you have regrets over him.”

    “Not really but I used to dream about him.”

    “And now?”

    “I’d like to dream about you, at least once in a while. Is that alright?”

    “Of course, I’m hypnotized by your beauty.”

    “Oh Brian don’t be, I’m just need some company. We have two weeks”

    “Laura, two weeks can be a lifetime of love, don’t you think?”

    They made love again. The ship hit a storm that raised the seas to an unusual

    height but the lovers didn’t care to notice. They danced the night away as the ship rolled

    slightly with the rising waves. The soaring passion between the two, matched the strength

    of the sea crashing against the hull of the ship.

    Two lonely people who if only for a short time found the miracle of a love that

    heals all wounds. A love that lasts forever in their minds. .
    .
    .

    .
    .

    1. jhowe

      Another good one to add to your growing collection. Love was definitely in the air in this story. Very enjoyable. Brian is a lucky bugger.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Another great romance. I really liked that last line, their story will always be perfect because they’ll never argue over bills or who forgot to take out the garbage. Perfect.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reatha for your generous comments. I began to think too perfect so I’m thinking of adding part two, dangerous and scary.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Joseph, that’s because I jump into my characters when I write love stories. I’m too scardy cat to jump into the dark ones.

    3. UnclePizza

      Kerry, when I was in college (good lord – nearly forty years ago) I had a roommate who thought that all relationships should have a mandated two-week lifespan dictated by culture and consensus. That way everyone could enjoy the best of the relationship without the worry of breakups, drama, and baggage. I’d forgotten all about his idea until I read this gem of yours. Thanks for the good read!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you uncle. I thought about continuing this but then decided not to mess with it
        Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad I took you back to your college days. When I travel back, I seem to land in my first year, going to rush parries by Biscayne Bay in Miami
        What a fun year that was, except for going through ‘Hell Week at the Sigma Chi house
        Lord, what memories.

    4. Beebles

      Cinematic Kerry. Cigarette smoke, clipped dialogue and a real wave of romance at the end there. Enormously enjoyable to read. Rythmically it worked for me … and them apparently.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Beebles. I have a thousand black and white’s constantly running through my mind like Casablanca, For Whom The Bells Toll, and To Have Or Have Not. It changes my structure of thought when I start to write. I appreciate you beautiful comments and stopping to read at the bottom of the prompt.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        What college boy wouldn’t like a 30 year old beauty. Thank you so much for your comments and I am so happy to see you back. You brighten my day.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Penney. If I brought a smile, it pleases me. There is nothing better than a woman in her thirties, trust me, I know. I married my wife when she was thirty.

  24. jhowe

    It’s my turn at the oars. I sweat as I pull, the rough oak tearing at my palms. A thin woman sits beside me, crying softly as she pulls. The overseer, a giant of a man called Wyatt struts the gangway, an old riding crop in his cruel hand. When he passes, I whisper to the woman.

    “Try not to look vulnerable when Wyatt is near.”

    “But I don’t belong here.”

    “None of us do,” I say. “We were all tricked.”

    “They said it was a rustic cruise, with no frills and much adventure.”

    “I know. It appealed to me too.”

    “Yesterday, I saw them throw a man overboard because he couldn’t…” She went silent as Wyatt passed again. The big man swung the crop across her back and she whimpered slightly and straightened, pulling hard at the oar.

    “Meet me tonight,” I say. “Behind the galley. There’s a small room where food is stored.”

    The room is cramped, crammed with barrels and boxes. There’s a soft scratch at the door and I open it. She comes in and I quickly ease the door closed. Her hands are wrapped in scraps of cloth.

    “I’m Craig,” she takes my offered hand.

    “I’m Christy.” I hand her an apple and she bites into it greedily. “How do you know of this room?” she says, her mouth half full.

    “When I’m not working the oars, I’m the assistant quartermaster. I have access to things.”

    “What kind of things?”

    “I know of an inflatable life boat. Not large, but there’s room for two.” Apple juice runs from her chin, her eyes are soft and alluring.

    “What are you saying?” Christy says. “Are you planning to escape?”

    “Yes, I am. Tomorrow night, we’ll pass within six miles of St. Croix.”

    “How do you know that? How long have you been here?”

    “I’ve been a prisoner for almost 60 days. As quartermaster, sometimes I see documents and charts lying around. It was a risk, but I took a chart and gradually determined our course.”

    “How can they get away with this? They’re murderers.”

    “If we can make it to St. Croix, we can alert the authorities and put a stop to it.”

    “But don’t others see us out on the ocean, with the oars and all? Isn’t it obvious what’s going on?”

    “The oars are screened by fake catamaran outcrops. To anyone in a boat or on shore, it looks like a large pleasure craft.”

    “Why are they doing this?” she says.

    “I don’t know yet, but we’ll find out.”

    Christy is not at the meeting spot the next night. I judge the timing is right to make our move. I hear a struggle and see Wyatt tugging at the waistband of his trousers. Christy crouches, her hands raised to block his intent. I rush at the big man and make solid contact, sending him sprawling backward. He hits the deck railing and falls. There’s a large splash and he curses loudly, alerting other crewmen.

    Feet shuffle and I throw the packaged lifeboat into the water and grab Christy’s hand. We jump together and find the boat. I pull the tab and in seconds, the boat inflates. Scrabbling into the boat we hear thrashing. Wyatt is near, swimming clumsily toward us. I fit two small oars into the locks and pull. Christ bats at Wyatt’s hands with a box of provisions when he tries to pull himself in. By this time, I have my rhythm and we are soon ahead of the man. The weeks of working the ship’s oars have trained my body and the task of the overseer becomes his executioner as his head dips below the surface for the last time.

    I row in the opposite direction of the ship’s course. It will not be back. The mission of finding a floundering person in the dark is futile at best. Soon they will learn that it wasn’t only Wyatt who went overboard, but as we see the lights of St. Croix in the distance, we don’t really care.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I thought your story had enough in it.to be a novella
      The present tense makes the action stronger and the ending makes the reader happy they are escaping the terror
      Maybe one small thing
      Lay a line or two of what Craig thinks is really going on here. Add’s a little.mystery to your story

    2. agnesjack

      Fascinating take on the prompt, Jhowe. This could certainly be turned into a longer piece. I’m intrigued by both characters (Craig and Christy), because I suspect they may have some secrets.

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