If Only..

A few weeks ago, I participated in a writing competition. We were given the first paragraph and from that we had to create a short short story. It was not a requirement to use the first paragraph, but it had to be obvious that the paragraph inspired us. I chose to use the first paragraph in its entirety. And now on to my entry.

If only…

With blistered, salty skin and matted hair, they were down to their last sips of fresh water. A recreational day at sea had turned into a fight for continued existence. Slumped on the bow, searching for any hint of a breeze to soothe her burning face her eyes widened, when she noticed something fast approaching in the distance.

Angela’s mind panicked. “No, no, no. This couldn’t be happening. Please, no. All I wanted was to have an escape for one day. To spend time with Michelle. Please not this.”

Hope overcame fear. “Maybe, maybe I am seeing things. Maybe I imagined it. Please let me be wrong.” Angela moved forward, stretched her torso over the water like a striking cobra. Her hands gripped the slick edge. She squinted, tried to focus. Her body shivered. Goose pimples broke out along her sunburned bony arms. “No. It wasn’t her imagination.” Her left hand slipped. She toppled.

Her body clenched as it hit the cold water. The water wrapped itself around her. Her auburn, tangled hair formed a circle around her head. Several loose strands reached for a ray of sunlight that pierced the water. She thought, “I wonder what it’s like to drown. To just let go, to give up?” She fell deeper.

Angela’s lungs protested. She kicked. Her hands reached up. Her head broke the surface. Her lungs opened, took in life. Fingers felt for the edge of the deck, struck. Fingertips dug in. “Michelle?” No answer. “Oh god, I have to get out.” Using her fingertips, Angela started to pull herself up. Her grip gave way. She slipped back under. Angela bobbed back up and coughed once, twice, three times. A sense of desperation set in, “Michelle? Please? Please, can you help me?”

Michelle’s tanned faced looked over the edge. She knelt down and grabbed her best friend by the arms. She leaned back, started to pull. She struggled with the weight. “Angela, kick your legs hard.”

Then, darkness enveloped the two girls. Michelle looked up. Panicked she let go, scurried back. Angela sank back under the water. “Hello, Mrs. DeWitt,” Michelle stuttered.

Angela tried, tried hard to stay under for as long as she could. To stay in the cocoon of water. But even this protective cocoon could not prevent the shrill penetration of her mother’s voice. “Angela! Get your ash out of that pool. You were shupposed to be home two hours ago.”

The hard metal ridges of the ladder dug into the souls of Angela’s feet as she climbed up out of the pool. Angela gripped the handrails hard, as her mother swayed, almost fell in. Pink liquid sloshed over the edge of her mother’s chipped martini glass. “Now shee what you did? You made me sshpill my drink.” Mrs. DeWitt slurred. She licked the lost precious liquid from her fingers. Angela’s sunburned, freckled faced darkened.

Mrs. DeWitt and Angela walked down the Martinson’s driveway. Angela lagged two steps behind. Mrs. DeWitt turned, stumbled two steps to the left. She regained her balance, pulled her shoulders back, and smoothed her white fitted blouse with her free hand. Her eyes widened to focus on her daughter. “When I get home, I might jush have to call that girl’s moder! Keeping you all day! Unseptible.”

The spouted words of her mother were blocked by Angela’s mind – her mind already deep into its safe zone. “The young girl trudged obediently behind her ruthless captor. What tortures awaited her? What demented punishments would she have to endure? Out of the corner of her eye she saw possible escape. If only…”

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