This year, I am participating in the Writer In Motion Blog Project. Starting with a rough first draft based on the picture below, writers edit and refine their stories during the month of November. Below is my second draft entitled A Day on the Water.
Draft 2 – A Day on the Water
Holding on tightly to the spindly wooden mast, Amanda held the fluorescent torch as high as she dared to reach. Straining on her tip toes, she scanned far into the distance but there was no sign of a rescue craft.
With the still blue waters of Sydney Harbor far behind them, it would be only a few short hours until the light would be fading. Humming to herself to block out the shouting from below deck, Amanda closed her eyes for a moment and imagined a dazzling white rescue boat powering towards them.
But when she opened her eyes again, nothing was there. Nothing but endless blue water, the color of midnight, and the thickening storm clouds that joined it in the distance.
An icy chill whipped around Amanda and her blouse billowed out like a fluttering black sail. It had not been the best choice of attire, but then, she was not expecting this to happen today.
A gull swooped down from the sky, squawking in unison with Stella’s piercing shrieks. “I don’t believe this! I don’t fucking believe this is happening!”
“Calm down, Stella,” Amanda’s dad tried uselessly to console her, “everything’s going to be alright. The rescue is on the way.”
“Don’t touch me!” Amanda imagined her step Mum’s manicured little hands pushing her Dad away. “Don’t you dare fucking touch me! This is all your fault! It was your fucking idea! We’re all going to die and it’s because of you!”
At this, Amanda’s step-sisters joined in, their cries piercing Amanda’s heart. “Are we going to die, Mummy? Are the sharks going to eat us?”
Amanda’s Dad emerged from below deck, as he struggled up the ladder carrying a bright yellow life vest. His face was heavy and line with worry.
He squinted his eyes, peering up at Amanda. “You better come down from there.” He held up the life vest. “And put this on.”
Bristling with irritation, Amanda shrugged him off. “I’m alright.” At twenty-three years old, she resented being spoken to like a child.
“Come on, come downstairs now. The weather’s coming in, you’re not safe up there.”
“It’s better than being down there.” She jerked her head in the direction of the cabin. “I’m not coming down till she stops carrying on.”
Ted gave an exasperated sigh. “Don’t be like that, she’s upset, that’s all. I’ve radioed for help, everything will be alright.”
“It better be!” Amanda jumped down from the mast, agile as a cat from years of gymnastics.
“That’s my girl!” Ted tousled her dark, windblown hair.
As he helped Amanda into her life jacket, electric yellow lightening split open the darkening sky and thunder roared all round them. Diagonal spears of rain pelted down as Ted and Amanda hurried into the cabin.
Bedraggled, they brushed the rainwater off themselves under Stella’s venomous glare. “Good to see you’re looking after Number One Daughter, leaving me to cope on my own.” She indicated the two children, whose sobbing faces were burrowing into her breast.
Amanda’s fists turned into balls but as she opened her mouth to speak Ted cut in. “Stella, this isn’t doing anyone any good. Yelling and screaming is only upsetting the children. I’ve been on the radio and help is on the way. We just have to sit tight.”
As Ted walked towards Stella and the girls, another shock of lightening flashed through the high cabin windows. The yacht lurched from side to side, nearly knocking Ted and Amanda off their feet.
Racing into the control room, Ted picked up the radio. The static crackled as he yelled into the receiver. “This is the Eliza Jane, do you read me? Repeat, this is the Eliza Jane.”
The static crackled for a moment and then it went dead. Ted banged the receiver on the bench to try and make it work.
“Shit!” He yelled. “Shit, shit shit!”
The little girls started screaming and their mother pushed them away. She ran into the control room, pummeling Ted on the back. “Do something, you idiot! Why can’t you do something?”
Rushing over to the pale little girls, Amanda wrapped her strong, dark arms around them. In the chaos, she could not help but notice the contrast between her and her sisters; they were plump and translucently pale whereas she was willowy and swarthy.
Dad couldn’t have chosen a more different woman from her mum. If her step mum and her mum had ever stood side by side, it would have been like looking at night and day. And at the thought of her Mum, tears stung in the back of Amanda’s eyes.
Sobbing loudly, the little girls clung to Amanda. “Calm down,” she soothed, “everything’s going to be all right. We’re just having some rough weather, it will all be over soon. Sit tight until the rescue boat arrives and in the meantime, how about a song?”
She wiped the children’s faces with her bare hand, then rubbed their snot and tears off on her blouse. Taking a deep breath, she forced a smile on her face and started a rousing rendition of “Ten Green Bottles”, hoping the counting would distract them. She sung as loud as she could, trying to block out the sound of Stella and her father arguing.
A deafening thud came from the side of the boat, knocking Amanda and the girls to the floor. With her heart thumping, Amanda looked up to see the water pressing in on the windows of the cabin.
Maddison screamed and pointed her chubby little finger at the cabin door. “Look! The water’s coming in!”
And sure enough, water was pouring through the slats of the wooden door.
Amanda got to her feet. “Alright, kids, stand up and let’s make sure we’ve got our life jackets on properly. You remember what you learned in swimming lessons? Keep calm, and just float on top of the water.”