It’s been a couple of months since we’ve worked together – it’s amazing how busy our lives have become – but we’re back again for another four weeks of collaboration posts, and this time we’re mixing it up a bit.
In the past, we’ve always talked about the things we like, from love songs and guilty pleasures to our favourite films of 2016, but now we want to put our creative ability to work. Given we all studied creative writing at university, it’s a surprise that it’s taken us this long to do a collaborative piece using our own fiction.
For the next few Saturdays, we’ll be coming up with different themes and writing a piece of micro fiction between 500 to 750 words that follows the brief. To give ourselves more room to work with, said briefs will likely be pretty basic, namely mentioning a setting, an action or event and the number of characters involved. We all have individual writing styles and our preferred genres can vary quite widely, so while the initial set-up may be the same, what we end up writing will probably be very different.
This week it was my turn to come up with the theme and I went for something very simple: two characters having a dispute on the beach. Let’s see how we all interpreted that scenario…
The rush of thunder passed silently above the waves, drowned out by the violent crash of salt spray against the shore. For the last hour, the beach had been receding and soon enough Elaine’s feet would feel the wrath of the oncoming tide.
She wondered how long it would take to be submerged completely.
‘He loves me, he loves me not,’ she mused wistfully, pulling at the imaginary petals in her hand. Each one was a different colour from a different flower, every petal wilting as it drifted down to the sand. A thousand dead flowers surrounding her living corpse
‘You never get the answer you want with those.’
His voice, like poison in her ear. It made her swoon.
‘If I knew what answer I wanted, I wouldn’t need to ask.’
Elaine tossed aside the broken stem and watched its hasty decay. As it crumpled and blackened, she heard the thunder – louder – rising in over the tide.
‘Maybe it’s time to stop asking the question then.’
Simon appeared by her side, his hulking body impressive against the grey backdrop. He cast a shadow over her own petite frame as he leaned over and leered at her. The lines on his face appeared deeper, the stubble on his chin longer.
Elaine found him irresistible.
‘It hurts to love you,’ she admitted quietly, more for her sake than Simon’s. Saying those words felt like a knife in her own back, but keeping them quiet only made the pain worse.
‘That hasn’t stopped you though.’
‘Maybe it should.’
Simon said nothing. He curled his hand, calloused with age, around hers and moved it down to her stomach. It was a feeling she remembered, although not with him. They’d never gone through that tradition before; she couldn’t handle it happening again.
But this was nice, like the nostalgia of a photograph – short and sweet. There was a softness to Simon’s grip she’d never known before, but like their happy memories it didn’t stick around for long.
Elaine pulled away when her hand went numb.
‘I could disappear. Walk into the water and never come out again.’ His fingers curved over the outline of her body. ‘That’s not going to make you happy, is it?
‘You seem to know what will.’
‘The same thing that makes you wake up in the morning. The thing that gives you the high those drugs never can.’ His hand moved back up her body, lingering on her breasts for several seconds before resting on her neck. ‘The thing that makes you want to kill yourself.’
Elaine looked away as the shadow fell over her face. Simon’s weight was heavy on her body, forcing her down, drowning her in a tomb of sand.
‘You’re not what makes me happy.’
‘You keep telling yourself that.’
Elaine’s throat closed up. Every breath was forced out of her by Simon’s lips on her own.
‘You’re nothing with me, and you’re nothing without me.’ His teeth drew blood. ‘Just how I like you.’
Elaine didn’t move, didn’t even flinch. She felt the hands roaming over her, groping and clawing, making bruises. There was something easy about allowing him to control her this way; he was so much gentler when she didn’t resist.
But he wasn’t. He never had been.
She was just a toy to him.
‘You don’t know shit,’ she screamed, pushing him off of her. His body rolled over with ease and lay limp by her side. It wasn’t until she heard the groans of his laboured breaths that she realised the tears falling from her eyes.
‘You’re so pretty when you cry,’ Simon laughed uncontrollably. He ran a finger through the damp line down her face then stuck it in his mouth, suckling it like a child. He’d done the same thing during their first night together.
Elaine wasn’t sure when he got up and walked away, but by the time the sea was lapping at her trembling fingers, his laughter had died in the wind.
It was just her again. As always.
She let the water drift over her body and stayed silent.
“Don’t let go,” Maya demanded, her body dangling down over the edge of a rock-pool. Her friend, Rachel, held onto her legs, battling with the pain of an itchy nose with no free hand to scratch it. She tutted.
“I won’t, I won’t.” She stood on her toes to watch Maya scrabbling around, accidentally tipping her forward as she did. Maya let out a surprised yelp. “Do you really need to get it back that badly?”
Part ways down the rock-pool there was a large-rimmed sunhat stuck on a sandy ledge. Maya was too far away to reach but she swung and flailed her arm around in hopes that she would miraculously pilfer it. She sighed, the strain of being suspended upside-down evident in her voice.
“I refuse to listen to her complaining that I lost her favourite hat. It’s bad enough she found out I’d swiped it.”
“She’s your little sister. Seriously, how bad could it be?” Rachel looked over her shoulder, back towards the beach. The dry, non-slippy golden beach full of attractive topless men. “Hurry up.”
Rachel watched Maya’s pathetic attempt at rescuing the hat. She gripped her friend’s legs tighter and slowly edged her further down the wall of the rock-pool.
“Oh God, don’t let go,” Maya yelped, her voice stricken with panic. Let her go? Sheesh, Maya needed more faith in her. Something moved in the water below, catching Rachel’s eye.
“Ooo, is that a crab?”
Maya sounded less than impressed, tensing below Rachel’s grip. “Don’t say that.”
She looked into the water, forgetting the hat for a moment. Sun loungers and ice-cream were her thing, not waves and fish. True, here the waters were crystal blue and fairly warm, but she had no desire to be in it, gaze into it or find scuttling creatures in it. She reached for the hat again, stretching out as far as she could reach, and just-in-so brushed the rim of it.
“A bit more,” she urged. However, Rachel shrieked and let her go. She yelped. She fell. There was a big splash. She surfaced, soaked from head to toe, spluttering with seaweed in her hair.
She looked up to see her friend dancing around the edge of the rock-pool, hopping quickly from one foot to the other. “Something crawled over my foot!”
Maya grumbled half-heartedly. “You’re dead to me.”
Still. She was wet now. Nothing to do about it. She waded over to the side of the pool and plucked the hat from its snag.
“Make yourself useful,” she called before scooping up a couple of small rocks, placing them inside the hat, then threw it out of the pool. Rachel caught it, looking far from apologetic.
“Need a hand?” She asked, reaching down with her arm outstretched. She retracted it for a second. “Don’t you dare pull me in.”
Rachel retracted her hand completely. “I’ll get a lifeguard.”
Maya opened her mouth to yell traitor, but Rachel was already off and gone, yelling that she would make sure he was a hot one. Maya couldn’t help but laugh. She waded in the pool, drawing large, gentle circles in the water. Then something tickled her foot. She shuddered and kicked her legs, warding off any more fish that might have had the idea to inspect her.
Something tickled her foot again. She heard Rachel approaching, giggling like a school girl. She had managed to find a hot lifeguard, then. They appeared, peering over the ledge. Seeing Maya’s predicament, the lifeguard let out a soft laugh.
“You weren’t kidding.”
Feeling like the butt of some joke, Maya bit the inside of her cheek sulkily but reached for the lifeguard’s hand when he offered it to her nevertheless. Something touched her foot.
A dark shadow filled the bottom of the pool. The hat was a distant memory as something took hold. How she wished it was only a fish.
The last thing Rachel saw of Maya was the look of shock on her face before she was dragged below the water’s surface. She was never seen again.
If you like my style then you can check out my blog at https://giveitsomegeek.blogspot.co.uk/
“There’s no need to be so dramatic,” Shaun whispered. He retracted back into his sun lounger and moved his sunglasses to their rightful position on the bridge of his nose.
Looking at the sun kissed beach, he saw it was filled with families and couples alike. Some were relaxing in the blistering sun protected by the palm trees while children splashed around in the sea, making water fly through the air. It glistened like diamonds before descending back into the clear blue sea.
The view was serene.
“I’m not being dramatic!” Maddie half whispered as though she was on a stage, not wanting to be loud, but still loud enough that people would hear. “They got my drink wrong”
She held up her cocktail – a Pina colada. The icy liquid was starting to melt from the top and cascade down the glass.
“I ordered a strawberry daquiri and they gave me this,” she huffed, her face wrinkling. Shaun had seen her pull that look a thousand times when she didn’t get her way.
Maddie looked around the beach until her eyes landed back to the bar behind her sun lounger.
“For goodness sake Maddie, just drink it.”
Shaun lay back beneath their umbrella to protect his face from the blistering sun. He sighed deeply, his patience was wearing thin.
“No, why should I? They got it wrong,” she complained.
“Then take it back.” He shook his head. Maddie gasped.
“Shaun! I’d feel ashamed.”
Sometimes she confused him but this was one of the rare moments when Maddie truly irritated him.
“Well its either that or you stick with your pina colada, so make a choice.” Shaun rolled his eyes, bored of the conversation already.
Peeking over his sunglasses to catch her reaction, he saw her face drop, more frown lines appearing on her forehead. He closed his eyes, waiting for the sound of her footsteps headed towards the bar.
He heard nothing.
“Fine, give me the pina colada,” he sighed, opening his eyes and reaching into his pocket. He retrieved a note from his wallet and handed it to Maddie. “Go and get a daquiri.”
Maddie hesitated for a moment and then passed the glass over to him, quickly taking the money from his other hand. She got up and walked away.
“Maybe I’ll get some peace and quiet now,” Shaun murmured to himself, placing the glass down next to him.
There had been very few times since arriving on the island that he’d been left alone. Hearing the waves crash on the sand, the sounds of the air passing through the wings of the overhead birds, the smell of the sea, salty and clear. These moments of peace were paradise, but they never lasted long when Maddie was around. She brought noise with her wherever she went.
Speak of the devil.
Maddie lay down on the sun lounger next to him, humming like a child. Shaun could hear her slurping away at her drink.
“Happy now?” he asked half-heartedly.
“Yeah, thanks” she answered and went back to finish her drink. Hopefully it would be the last he heard from her today.
The beaming sun was pouring through the umbrella and making Shaun sweat. He reached out to the rejected pina colada and began to drink. The cool, icy drink quenched the thirst that the heat had given him.
“Mmm” he moaned a little louder than expected. The sound made Maddie look over to him, her eyes full of curiosity. She saw her disregarded drink in Shaun’s hand and opened her mouth but then closed it again.
“Is that nice” she questioned.
Clearly the peace would not last.
Shaun turned his head and lowered his sunglasses to look at her.
“Yeah it is actually.” He pushed his sunglasses back to up to his eyes and lay back, glass still in his hand. Maddie scrunched up her face, debating her words. She swung her legs off the sun louger to face him and spoke softly.
“What now?” he asked, his voice edged with annoyance. She batted her eyelashes at him.
“Can I try that?” Her eyes looked down towards the pina colada she’d rejected not ten minutes earlier. Shaun’s eyes followed hers to the glass.
“For god’s sake!”
If you interested in seeing more of my own blog then you can find me at http://www.hollyquillsandivy.co.uk