The Stowaway

Tommy felt someone haul him out of the waves that slapped his face and rushed down his throat. He coughed, sputtered. Someone said, “hold on boy, you’ll live.” He clutched the side of the row boat as hard as he could. The oar smacked his leg right before the rower pulled it out of the water again. By the time the rocking stopped, Tommy slept.

When he woke, he felt the warmth of fire on one side of his body and turned to ease the chill on the other. He opened his eyes. The walls of a cottage and a hearth surrounded him. Above, he could just make out the underbelly of the thatched roof. He wasn’t rocking anymore but lay on a straw bed before the fire. A deer skin rug stretched the short distance between the straw bed and the hearth. A black kettle hung in the orange and red flames.

He pushed himself to his elbows. Tommy’s arms shook. “What happened?”

“Shipwreck,” a male voice answered, and then the man came into view. He was short with wide shoulders and sand caked on his breeches and boots. “We got most of you out of the water.”

“Most of us?”

“Aye. You’re lucky to be alive.”

Tommy sat up all the way and winced, pressing a hand to his sore side. “The captain—of the Content—did he make it?”

The man shrugged. “Wouldn’t know. I pulled you and two others out of the water. The others are upstairs. Neither looked like a captain though.”

Tommy nodded. “Thank you for saving me.” He stood.

“Whoa, where’re you going?”

“I have to leave.” He’d been a stowaway on the Content, and the captain had just discovered him before the storm hit.

“You’ll stay. You’re hurt and the sky’s open.”

Yet another I might turn into a longer story. I kind of want to see what becomes of Tommy, find out why he stowed away, etcetera. This is in response to Sunday’s writing prompt though, so I had to cap it at 300 words.

Writing Prompt: Random Date

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I used a random date generator to pick a date between 1600 and now–and this is what it came up with. So, your task is to write a story up to 300 words long that takes place on September 26, 1749. It can take place anywhere you like. Have fun!

Grand Central Market

Fletcher heaved the sack of bows over his shoulder, balanced the across his back, and left his apartment. He gave a nod to the doorman, Floyd, because he had to hold the sack with both hands. “Headed to the Grand Central market,” he told Floyd.

“Ah, good luck, mister Fletcher, sir.” Floyd was lean except for a round ale belly that stretched his tunic so Fletcher could see his belly button. Fletcher looked down at his feet. “Taking the lot today, sir?”

“Aye. Hoping to trade a few for new boots. The army’s in town.”

“Good luck,” Floyd said again and pulled open the glass and brass door.

Fletcher turned sideways through it and walked to the corner to hail a cab. Three passed him by, their numbers lit up. He hissed a curse and walked three blocks to the subway. Fletcher lived downtown—way downtown—in the hunting district of the island of Manahatta. Tall apartment buildings, all identical with identical two-room apartments surrounded a massive grassland. Deer often roamed south an when he wasn’t crafting bows and arrows, Fletcher hunted for his community. His hunting partner, a descendant from the Lenape tribe, would spend the day preparing their kills from the day before.

Fletcher was descended from one of the few European families allowed to live on the island. His great, great, great, great, great grandmother was permitted to stay because she’d been pregnant when her husband brought her over from England. He’d had to return. He climbed down the steps to the subway platform, apologizing to people who pressed against the handrails to get out of his way. He got plenty of stares and grimaces on the subway, except from a man who shuffled the car, hands outstretched and begging for food.

Fletcher didn’t have any on him, so he just shook his head. “I’m sure you could trade something at the market.”

“Ain’t got nothing to trade,” the man said. He flashed Fletcher a jack-o-lantern smile.

Fletcher stopped the man before he could shuffle along. “If you’ll assist me today, I’ll give you one of my bows to trade.”

The man grinned again and then wiped some drool from the corner of his mouth where he didn’t have a tooth to hold it in. He extended the same hand to shake Fletcher’s. Fletcher looked at the drool-drenched hand and swallowed back a grimace. “Can’t let go of this sack, but you have my word.”

A bell dinged and they both swayed as the train stopped. Fletcher led the way out of the train and above ground. Grand Central was filled with booths, tables, and people milling around, peddling trades. “What’s your name?” Floyd asked.

“Fred,” the begging man answered, shuffling to stay close.

“Fred…I’m Fletcher. That makes us neighbors. If you’re hungry, why don’t you come to me for venison?”

Fred shrugged. “Likes of you never look my way.”

Fletcher pulled a bow out of the sack and passed it to him. “Until now.”

This is from Sunday’s writing prompt about a parallel world. I thought about how the world might be different without money, if we still lived on a bartering system. I might turn this into a longer story.

WattPad and FanStory

I’m new to using both of these sites that I’ve been meaning to use for a really long time. What can I say? Other things had to happen first. But I want to share with you that I’m now active on both.

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WattPad

This is where I’ll post serial fiction. Right now, I’m working on Pathogen, a story I’ve been meaning to write and share for a long time. While my main fiction focus is on historical literary works, what I post on WattPad will be just for fun, for us to enjoy together. Because of that, I’m sorry to say–I’ll only be posting about 1,000 words or so each month.

Even with that pace, we can unfold stories there together, writer and readers. I just published this month’s section, which I originally wrote years ago as part of my MA program–but I wanted to give it a once over before publishing it and now I finally had the opportunity. Look for the story to continue next month!

Start reading Pathogen today.

FanStory

This is where I’ll post short fiction and poetry. My main goal here, in addition to connecting with other writers, is to participate in contests. I started posting yesterday, and FanStory only allows me to post two things each day, so there are only four right now. But here’s what you can read if you head over there today:

  • “Dept. of Reformation,” a pastiche of Jenny Offil’s book, Dept. of Speculation
  • “The Coach,” a short story told only in dialogue, no dialogue tags or quotation marks.
  • “In Memoriam J.G.M.,” a pastiche of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam A.H.H.”
  • “Land of the Gods,” a poem I wrote after the earthquake, tidal wave, and nuclear meltdown in Japan

Update: After a few days of use, I’ve decided not to participate on FanStory. I’ve removed the above listed posts and I will share them here next week, along with others I’d posted to that site. 

Feedback

I welcome feedback on both of these sites, so if you’re a member, please feel free to share your thoughts on these and any other pieces I share. Happy reading!

Writing Prompt: Snowed In

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Today, I’d like you to write a story that takes place during a blizzard. What happens when your character(s) get snowed in? I see this is a fantastic opportunity to develop relationship-based tension of some sort because characters can be physically trapped.

Have fun with it–you have 1,500 words.