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 first draft entitled “A Day on the Water.”
Draft 1 – A Day on the Water
Draft 1 – A Day on the Water
The storm clouds are coming but she holds on tight. One hand on the spindly wooden mast the other reaching out as high as she can so that her torch can be seen in the distance. She stands on her tip toes and cranes her body as far as she dares; there?s still some time left, still some light left. She makes the most of it before the darkness and the rain.
The wind picks up and billows her blouse like a fluttering black sail. Hopefully, they will see it in the distance. Hopefully, it will contrast with the cobolt blue of the sky and fluffy white clouds. But then, white would have been better; white is the color of sails and it was chosen for a reason. White is for visibility and black is for camouflage.
Maybe she should have worn white today, but then, she didn?t expect that this was going to happen.
Down below decks Stella is screaming her accusations, running around, pulling her hair out.
“I don?t believe this!” She is yelling. “I don’t fucking believe this is happening!”
Ted is trying to calm her down, he puts his arms around her but she pushes him away.
“Don?t touch me!” She yells. “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!”
The children start their howling and waves lap the side of the yacht.
The still blue waters of Sydney Harbour are long gone and now they are on the open sea.
Not daring to look down on the murky depths below, Amanda focuses on the patches of bright blue sky because your thoughts manifest in reality. Isn?t that right? You become what you believe and your future is limited only by your dreams.
And so Amanda held her torch high and visualized a rescue boat coming over the horizon. She hummed to herself to block out the screaming below.
Ted’s heavy footsteps got closer and he came and stood under the mast. Looking down from above, the bald patches he tried to hide were glaringly obvious and his face was heavy with worry.
“You right up there?” He asked Amanda.
“All good,” she said, “sounds like they’re all freaking out down there.”
Ted shook his head, “I’ve radioed for help, that’s all I can do. There’ll be someone along soon.”
He held a bright yellow life jacket up. “Here, you better put this on, just in case.”
He reached as far as he could but it wasn’t far enough. Amanda had to come down to get it.
“Thanks,” she said, putting it on, “I should have thought of that earlier.”
Out of nowhere the wind picked up and rain pelted down in hard diagonal spears. The dark waves picked up, buffeting the yacht and it lurched from side to side. Stella and the children were screaming as Ted and Amanda hurried below decks.
Stella looked at them accusingly as they entered the cabin. ?Where the Hell have you been! Leaving me to cope on my own.? She indicated the two children, whose sobbing faces were burrowing into her breast. ?You’re supposed to be looking after them!? She shot Amanda a menancing look. “That’s what I?m paying you for!”
“Sorry,” said Amanda, “I was up on the mast with the torch, I thought it might attract attention.”
Stella scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Fucking useless! I don?t know what I ever hired you for.”
The color rose in Amanda?s cheeks. She didn?t sign up for this. She was meant to be accompanying the family on their annual boating holiday, looking after the kids so the parents could relax. It was meant to be a nice, cruisey assignment, not being lost on the open sea.
Amanda’s fists turned into balls and 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.”
A crash of lightening sounded all around them, flashing through the high cabin windows like someone turning on and off the light switch. The yacht lurched from side to side, jostling Amanda and the children on their seat and almost knocking Amanda and Ted off their feet.
Ted raced to the pilot?s room and picked up the radio. The static crackled from the radio 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 children started screaming. “Are we going to die, Mummy? Are we going to die? Are there sharks in the water? Are they going to eat us?”
Stella pushed the children away and ran into the pilot room with Ted. In a frenzy, she started pummeling her fists on his back, screaming obscenities and blaming him for the whole thing.
Amanda rushed toward the children and put her arms around them.
“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 and forcing a smile on her face she launched into her best rendition of their favourite song.
Just then, a big wave hit the side of the yacht, pushing the cabin to a 45 degree angle. Amanda and the children tipped forward and when she looked up, she could see the swelling sea water pushing in on the windows of the cab and seeping in from around the seals.
Timothy screamed and pointed to the cabin door. “Look! The waters coming in!”
Amanda turned in shock to the sound of the running water and was horrified at the water pouring in through the concertina slats of the wooden door.
“Alright, kids.” She said, “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.”