"There's no point in spending your life in the pursuit of something that's easy." - Alice Kuipers

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

National Short Story Month

Did you know that May is National Short Story Month? I didn't until a few days ago when I saw someone mention it on twitter. So, with that in mind I'd like to share a short story with you that I wrote for last month's Your Story competition in Writer's Digest. The prompt was to write a short story in 750 words or fewer, in which you are stranded on desert island with a coconut, a mask and a dictionary, and explain how you escape the island using only those three objects. I didn't win, but I hate to see a good story go to waste therefore I'm sharing it here. I hope you enjoy it and happy National Short Story Month!

One Way

Hopeless: [hohp-lis] adjective, providing no hope; beyond optimism or hope; desperate

I looked up from the wrinkled pages of the dictionary, staring out at the endless water. It was a sheet of glass, disappearing into the horizon. There was not a soul to be seen, nor had there been since I washed up on this desolate little island, so small I could walk its periphery in an hour.
I'd lost track of the days, the hours I'd sat here on the sand staring out at the water, watching for something, anything. I was almost out of food, a single coconut left.
I was going to die here. It was a fact; pure, simple and inescapable. I turned the pages, trailing my finger along the words.

Inescapable: [in-uh-skey-puh-buh l] adjective, incapable of being escaped, ignored or avoided

The only choice I had left was how it would end. Would it be slow and pitiful, stretched out over days, hours, starving slowly until my body shut down, or...
I picked up the mask I'd set in the sand beside me, slowly turned it over in my hands. Aside from the dictionary and the coconut, it was the only possession I had. It was porcelain, with narrow slits for eyes and small painted on lips in bright crimson, like a doll's mouth. It had flaming red and gold designs over the forehead and temples that caught the light as I turned it. It was attached to a long wand decorated with ribbons and feathers, for holding it to your face during a masquerade. It was a glittering feather festooned work of the imagination, bought in Venice in another life to take home and hang on the wall.
The sand was too soft and powdery where I sat, so I picked up the coconut and carried it with the mask down closer to the water where the ground was firmer. I set the mask down, pressed it lightly into the damp sand and raised the coconut above my head. I brought it down hard on the mask, feeling the shattering of it beneath my hands as much as hearing it. I picked through the softly glittering pieces until I found the right one.
I trekked back up the beach and settled myself under a palm tree, pulling the old, weathered dictionary onto my lap. The pages were crinkly and wrinkled from the humidity, slightly yellowed from the touch of too many hands. They slid through my fingers with a soft rustle as I searched for the correct page.
When I found it, I nestled the open dictionary into the sand beside me, placing a stone on each side to hold it open to the right place.
There was only one way off this island. Just one.
With a steady hand I drew the sharp edge of the porcelain down my wrist.

Liberate: [lib-uh-reyt] verb, to set free, as from imprisonment or bondage

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