This week, FlashFriday (FlashFriday@wordpress.com) is doing something different – a special celebration of their first annivesary, their flashversary… 350 words (exactly ) and the prompt was posted on Monday.
I thought this would be so much easier: one story, 350 words and 5 days to write it. The only problem was… I ended up writing three stories. It was a case of: “this one was too pretty”; “this one didn’t have a kicker ending”; “this one isn’t pretty enough.”
It was like choosing between children, each had their strengths and weaknesses. I loved them all. I saw their flaws, but ultimately only one could be posted.
My question to you: Which would you have chosen to post?
The dragons of the deep stand still
Where the water drinks its fill
Mist kissed mountains guard the shore
Where I wander evermore.
Ian sat on the shore as he watched the setting sun. The only thing that would have made the moment better would have been if he’d had his guitar with him, but it was back at the hostel with the rest of his belongings.
Back home he was the musician’s musician: the go to guy when you needed a guitar player, but here he was just a pilgrim on his way to Halong Temple: a seeker, nothing more.
Looking at the dragon carvings that dotted the shoreline he felt humbled. His woodworking skills as a luthier were more functional and couldn’t compare to beauty that had greeted him on the secluded beach. His fingers ghosted over the dragon’s scales and horn as he studied the intricate work.
The artist hadn’t carved the dragon into the wood as much as coaxed it into being. From the distance the dragons had looked real and even now he could sense the essence of the dragon the craftsman had tried to capture.
He took a deep breath and smiled as he felt a song well up from within him. His left hand flexed and stretched to form the accompanying chords. Without realizing he was singing, his voice echoed across the bay, dancing between the waves.
He smiled. It was the purest form of music; the reason for his journey. He was looking for the ultimate song. He found it once before when he was playing harp and an oncoming storm had set the strings to vibrating and he’d been looking for it ever since.
Now, as then, he heard a song in nature that reflected his own: enhancing it and turning into something beyond him. As always, it left him humbled.
As the song faded, he saw a woman emerge from the water, her song echoing his.
He had just enough time to register her presence before she vanished with the setting sun.
“Tomorrow”, he promised himself. “I’ll bring the guitar.”
This was the first story I wrote, and it started Tuesday with two lines of poetry. The only thing was… the ending didn’t stick with me. And so came one with a title I’d been saving for the right time… enter… Fatal Redaction.
Leanne carefully made her way down to the secluded beach. The work was a small price to pay for the peace she craved. Let the tourists pay for their privacy or worse, share
their vacation with screaming hordes of other tourists who were too lazy or too cheap to turn their vacation into something special.
She much preferred planning her own adventure. That was why she’d decided to go with the CIA briefings on the area rather than any of the tourist guides available.
Even the acclaimed ‘Not for Tourists’ guide couldn’t compare. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, she had access to information the guides lacked: telemetry and real-time
satellite footage available at the click of a mouse.
Admittedly, it was a bit much for her purposes, but the briefings included information on where the local insurgents were, what risks were involved in traveling; even the average
temperature for this time of year, but what had really intrigued her were the images of the carved dragons that littered the beach.
While she craved solitude, it was those image that had called to her half the world away, and it was the dragons that had brought her to the shores of Halong Bay.
Here, with no local guides clamoring for her money, she could explore at her own pace. She could discover the secrets of the bay on her own and that, more than anything, had
appealed to her.
She carefully set her pack down and made a pallet for herself, she may have been roughing it, but she had every intention of enjoying the sandy beaches the bay had to offer. She
made herself a small cook fire, using driftwood she found and had just unrolled her towel when she heard an angry roar from the skies.
Frowning, she quickly pulled up the briefing to see what it said about the local fauna. She didn’t have long to wait for the answer. As she pulled up the heavily redacted
page, the sun was obscured not by a carved dragon, but the real thing, its eyes whirling angrily.
Again, a nice story, a bit more… humorous, but I still wasn’t satisfied. As I drifted of to sleep I thought… golf course… what if a golf course had a dragon hazard… and thus, Par for the Course was born.
Par for the Course
Fred looked through the binoculars and shook his head. “It’s impossible.”
Robert gave him a reassuring smile and laughed. “You can do it.”
“Have you looked at the terrain down there?”
“You know I have. You had me scout it for you yesterday,” Robert answered in his standard nonplussed tone.
Fred studied the path again and shook his head. “It’s impossible.”
“No it’s not. They wouldn’t have let us come if it really was impossible, besides if anybody can do it, it’s you.”
“Is that confidence in my skills, or are you just saying that because I pay you to?”
Robert simply smiled and nodded. He’d learned a long time ago not to argue with Fred when he got like this.
“You know I’m probably going to fail miserably.”
“You never fail miserably,” Robert assured him. It was true, when Fred failed, it was spectacular, and it was never where you expected it. It was one of the reasons Robert stuck around, that and the paycheck.
His smile grew as Fred looked away from the valley below and focused on him.
“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
Robert had to suppress a laugh. “Probably.”
“I’m glad you find my impending doom so amusing.”
“Would you like me to get you some cheese to go with that wine?”
“See, this is easy for you: you’re not the one putting your life on the line.”
“Fred, are you going to focus on telling yourself it can’t be done and you’re going to fail, or are you going to work with me here and figure out what you have to do to pull this off?”
“Fine,” Fred sighed going back to the binoculars. “Let’s see… I need to make it across the sand, past the dragon on the beach without upsetting it, traverse… twenty; no… fifty yards of water to the third island and up to the top of the island beyond that… in one shot. Am I missing anything?”
“No, that’s about it,” Robert answered once again calm and placid.
“Can’t be done.”
“Yes, it can,” Robert assured him. “Use the seven iron.”
We’ll find out in the coming days if I chose wisely or not 🙂