Trust Dive

“Bree, I got one for you now.” He sat up against the willow, shifting so he faced me.

“Go for it.”

“What if you could breathe underwater?” He gestured to the rounded lake.

“No.” I turned away from the water. “You know I’m afraid.”

“But that way you couldn’t drown!” He stood, stepping toward the shore. “You wouldn’t have to be scared anymore, right?”

I shook my head, reaching out for him. “Jay, it’s not just that, it’s the unknown, the depth, the darkness of it.” I tried to smile. “Plus, we’ve both seen Jaws, and it doesn’t exactly end well.”

He chuckled. “There are no sharks in lakes like this.” He waved the thought away. “Okay, okay. What if I was drowning and-?”

“No, Jay.” I stood, reaching out as I took a step toward the edge of the lake.

“Not even then?” His eyes widened.

I scoffed. “Oh yeah, some help I’d be, not knowing how to swim. You’d be better off hoping a dolphin would help you out.”

“Well, then I’ll teach you.” He took my head, trying to pull me closer to the water.
“Jay, stop. Please-” I planted my feet, leaning my weight back.

He paused, turning to me. “Listen, we’ll go around to the shallow end and start there. You’ll be able to see the bottom.”

“Please don’t make me.” My voice cracked as I stared at the body of water waving and chopping in the breeze.

“What if we start with just wading, huh? Walking around, getting you used to it. Then it won’t seem so bad.” Jay linked arms with me. “I’ll be right there with you, promise.”

I sighed and turned back to our willow, scooping up our shoes. “No tricks.” I tossed his sneakers to the ground at his feet when he grinned.

“You got it, no pranks.” He raised his right hand, placing it over his heart.

I took his hand as we wandered around the lake. Jay took to my side, creating a wall between me and the water. He jogged to the shore, pulling me behind him. After he threw his shoes aside, he ran straight for the water, wading until he was waist deep. I set my shoes next to his and edged closer as he reached out.

I took one step into the water lapping at my feet. “Does this count?”

He closed the distance between us. “No, not even close.” He blocked my escape and took my shoulders in his hands, ushering me deeper into the lake.

I dug my feet into the sand as he pushed. “Wait, wait, wait! You said we were just wading.” The water inched up to my waist, and I froze, gazing at minnows as they darted away.

“Yeah, and we are. We’ll go deeper until we feel like we can’t walk and start from there.” He wrapped his arm around my shoulders. “Don’t worry, I got you.”

A shaking breath escaped my lips as the cool liquid enveloped more of my body. “Okay, let’s stop here. I need to get used to the feeling.”

Jay came around my front, gripping my hand. “Take all the time you need. I’m right here, okay?”

I nodded as I moved my arm through the waves, watching the bottom. I shifted my weight from one leg to the other. Jay released my hand, and I cried out as he sank under the surface. He reappeared in seconds, sweeping his hair back.

“That wasn’t funny!” I crossed my arms over my chest as he neared.

“Sorry, but I wanted to get used to the temperature. That’s the fastest way, you know. Do you wanna try?”

“Going under? Uh uh, no way.” I backed away as the wind picked up, cooling my soaked clothes until I started shivering.

“I told you I’d be right here. I’ll hold your hand so you have something to pull you back up if you want. It’ll only be a second.”

I took his offered hand and met him at his side. “Just a second.” I breathed in as he nodded, squeezing my hand.

I took the plunge, holding my breath as the water hit me, weighing me down. I opened my eyes and searched in the blurry shadows for a fleeting moment as I pushed myself back up. I raked my dripping locks away from my face, meeting Jay’s gaze.

“How was it? Not too bad?”

“It wasn’t the end of the world.”

“Good, you ready to try the next step?”

“I don’t know…”

He walked deeper until the water wrapped his shoulders. “I have an idea. How about I swim and you hold on?”

“How far?” I took one step at a time, stretching out for him.

“We’ll see how you feel, how’s that? All you gotta do is hold on tight.” He turned his back to me.

I stumbled toward him, grabbing his shoulders. He inched out, letting the water take my weight, and I clutched him, wrapping my arms under his.

“We’ll go nice and slow, okay? Nothing crazy.”

I rested my head on his back as he started to swim, smiling. “No shark attacks?”

He laughed. “Course not. Not this time.” He cut me off before I could protest. “Kidding, kidding.”

“Not funny. Are you sure you’re okay carrying me?”

“Yeah, don’t worry, I’ll swim back if I get tired. Wanna try going under again?”

I tightened my hold on him, trembling. “Please don’t, not when I won’t be able to see you.”

“How about I go under while you hold on so you can a feel for what swimming will be like?”

“Just for a second?”

“I’ll be right back up. Ready?”

I shifted my arms as he swam, holding onto his shoulders. He swam under, and the water threatened to take me with him. I gasped and stretched my head as the water decided whether or not to lift my weight. I lightened after a few seconds, and Jay kept as moving toward the center. He dropped lower, and I sank with him, going under before I could breathe in. I flailed and kicked as he slipped from my hands. I forced my eyes open and grabbed at nothing as the shadows surrounded me. A gurgling scream tore from my throat as a silhouette wrapped arms around my waist. We breached the surface, and I coughed and sputtering.

“It’s okay, I gotcha. I gotcha.”

I wrapped my arms around his back, pounding my fists into his shoulders. “You said there’d be no tricks. You promised!”

He tilted my chin in one hand as he treaded and with the other, keeping us afloat. “I wanted to see how you’d react to having to hold yourself up. It’s okay.” He shifted to float on his back and started kicking. “I wasn’t gonna let anything happen to you. Just hang on a little longer, and we’ll be back on hard ground. Kick your legs, and we’ll get there faster, okay?”

I laid my hand on his chest and kicked with him, propelling us to the safety of the shoreline. The water pulled at our backs as we left it, but released us as we waded in. I scrambled up in the sand as soon as I scraped the bottom with my feet. Jay caught me before I could run and sat us down in the wet sand.

“You did great, Bree, really. I’m sorry about my little stunt. I should’ve told you.”

“Yeah, you should’ve, but we made it back alive I suppose.”

“Does that mean you don’t hate me?” He flashed a pearly grin.

I shoved him down in the sand, caking his hair in the clumping grit. “Now we’re even. Good luck getting that out.” I smiled as he tried to rake the mess from his hair, catching his lips with mine. “I guess I don’t hate you.”

Nuclear Confession

“Okay, I got one.”

I smirked and rolled on my side. “Go for it.”

He gestured into the sky. “What would you do if the world was ending, and you only had two hours left?”

I opened my mouth to start, but he held up his hands.

“No hiding, no escaping, you’re gonna die in two hours.”

“Okay, Jay. Two hours to death. What do I do?” I paused and gazed up at the sailing clouds. “Wait, how does it end?”

He scoffed and rolled his eyes. “It doesn’t matter. Just assume you’re gonna die in two hours.”

I shook my head. “No, Jay. It matters. How do I go down?”

“Aubrey, that’s not the point. What do you do with the last two hours of your life?”

I pursed my lips and closed my eyes. “Nope, not answering until you come up with the end.”

He pushed me onto my back. “Nukes! I dunno… Just answer the damn question!”

I smiled. “So stereotypical… Fine, so I’m assuming I can’t try to stop them.”

“Nah, just live your life for two more hours.”

My eyes popped open, and I held my fingers up, counting. “Read a book, take a walk, confess my undying love, pun intended.”

He shifted over. “Wait, Bree, that’s it? That’s so… simple.”

“That’s the point! I have two hours, so I mean, it’s not like I can do a lot. I may as well do the things I like, right?”

His head dropped on the grass, and he folded his arms beneath it. “I guess, but wouldn’t you want to go out doing something exciting?”

“Confessing my love isn’t good enough for you?”

“Well yeah, but you’re gonna wait ‘til the last second? What good is that?”

I sat up, took his hand, and dragged him to his feet. “Come on, I want to show you something.” I tugged Jay along the dirt path away from the top of the hill.

“I’ve seen the lake, Bree. Nothing new there.”

“Just shut up, and follow me!” I darted ahead of him, laughing as groaned.

We ducked through trees, weaving through shortcuts to make it to the rounded lake in time. I stopped at the oldest weeping willow. The leaves billowed and drooped, blocking our view of the water. Jay caught up, huffing and gripping his knees.

“Jesus, what’s the rush?”

I took his hand, and brushed the cover away, stepping through the wall. “This.”

The watercolor painted gemstone sky reflected on the still glass. I turned to face Jay who stood, rooted to his spot with his mouth hanging open. After a few moments, he blinked and looked at me.

“Wow.”

I held up my index finger. “Now, imagine a green haze spilling over this. Raining fireballs ready to annihilate us.”

His eyebrows quirked. “Way to ruin the moment.”

“Well, you’re the one who wants the world to end. Spending our last two hours here in a sunset like this.”

“What about the other stuff? Your book and your walk.”

I tallied on my fingers. “Read a book this morning, and our walk up the hill was enough. We have seconds remaining, fireball coming straight for us.”

He closed the gap between us. “You forgot one thing.”

I turned to him, gripped his shoulders, and lifted myself into his arms, pressing my lips against his. Jay stumbled and landed on his behind, landing me in his lap.

“Good enough for you?”

Piece by Piece – Collection

Okay, this writing exercise is super simple and effective. Get into the habit of collecting tidbits for your writing. There’s no limit to what you collect, for example:

  • Observations
  • Bits of sensory detail
  • Dialogue
  • Figurative language – similies/metaphors etc.
  • Patterns
  • Habits
  • Reactions
  • Fun facts
  • Questions
  • Vocabulary – yes, words!

Make a habit of writing these down in a notebook to save and use for later.

Write every day! I cannot stress this enough. Even if it’s just one bit, it counts! Collect away, fellow artists! Over time it adds up to a pile of raw material that can build anything you want.

~ Observations can be anything interesting you notice. For example: A young woman in my morning Creative Writing class always comes in with the same beverage, iced coffee. You just got a character trait.

~ Bits of Sensory Detail can be anything from how heel clicks sound different depending on the surface they hit or how the sunlight feels depending on the color you wear.

~ Dialogue can be tricky to come up with or hard to make realistic, so keep your ears open for bits you’re lucky enough to catch, remember, and write down. Do so at your own risk!

~ Figurative Language can be especially helpful for poets, so collect comparisons, personifications, sounds for onomatopoeia, etc.

~ Patterns/Habits can run along the same lines, so I’ll stick them together. These are wonderful character traits, so keep an eye out for interesting patterns or habits like someone ordering the same meal when they go out to eat or someone who takes the same way home from work every day.

~ Reactions are awesome characterizers as well. Watch how people interact with social boundaries and compare that to when those are broken. Keep in mind how people react to confrontation, fear, uncomfortable situations, etc. It’s useful in and out of fiction!

Fun Facts can be worthwhile to learn for their own sake, or they can be great prompts or tidbits for world creation. Also, you can make endless fiction by twisting them and using them for characters like someone who’s a habitual liar or someone who likes to think they know everything.

~ Questions are wonderful prompts, but they can also help everything from setting to world creation to scene writing to characterization. Look up lists of questions, and steal the interesting ones! Heck, even the mundane ones can be twisted for use.

Vocabulary is a wonderful thing for writers for obvious reasons, but learning words that sound or look pretty can be a whole other thing entirely. It can open up new worlds especially if you learn words from new languages and start mixing and matching. The range for vocab use is limitless!

I know the act of writing can be a daunting task, but if you start with little pieces of material like this, it’ll pay off. Not only will you form the habit of writing things down, you’ll gather pieces you can use over and over to suit your needs. If nothing else, it’s a new hobby to open your eyes and ears to the world around you.

If there’s something you’d like to add, let me know in the comments below!

Happy collecting!

-Author S

 

Golden Boy

buddy-2

Death came knocking at our door
And took our last four-legged friend
If I could ask for one day more
I’d be with him to the end

Give him treats for doing tricks
Play with him and his favorite toy
Let him outside, throw some sticks
Call him “old man” and “good boy”

How we’ll miss our Golden son
Our family, our brother
Who we watched grow from a little one
With love on this day, we would have smothered

If Death came knocking and I’d been there
I’d have asked for a second longer
To give my heart the time to bear
And grow a bit stronger

I write this now to you, Old Man
We’ll keep and store that lion toy
I hope you like the last ride in the van

We’ll meet you on the other side
Give you attention you deserve
Say hello instead of goodbye

To our old man, the Golden Boy

 

-In Memory of our old man, Buddy, the Golden Boy himself
February 11, 2005 – February 14, 2017