“She wasn’t impressed,” Burger King said, his voice pained. “Like, not at all. I don’t know what I did wrong. Or maybe it wasn’t anything I did. Maybe she was having a bad day for whatever reason.”
Colonel Sanders raised his hands in a dismissive gesture. “Beats me, dude. From what you said, you did everything right.”
“Hardly.” Earl Grey drank from his teacup and dabbed his lips and grand mustache with a cloth napkin. He said, “After you’ve been dating a woman for a while, she’ll probably be okay with a burger and fries on a date. Actually, some women might be okay with that on a first date. But I would not — absolutely not — put Lady Godiva in those categories. You should’ve come to me first and asked for restaurant recommendations for your date with her.”
“What should I do now?” Burger King said.
“Bring her chocolates,” the earl said. “Good-quality chocolates. Apologize to her. Say your judgement was thrown out of whack because you were so taken with her luxurious hair. Suggest another dinner. French this time.”
“French could be good,” the king said.
“It will be good. Wooing a proper lady is a delicate process. One that should not to be taken lightly, my good man.”
“What if there really are giants?” the girl asked from the backseat.
“Giants?” her father repeated from the driver’s seat. “Sure there are. Remember when we looked up that stuff? The most poisonous snake in the world, all that stuff? Remember the world’s tallest person? That guy was way up there. Forget how tall, though.”
“No, no, I don’t mean tall people. I mean giants. The ones that’re taller than houses.”
“Like in Gulliver’s Travels?”
“That wasn’t a giant,” she said from the passenger seat. “He was regular size. The people were really small. The Lilliputians.”
“I always thought he was a giant,” he said.
“Nope. But there was a giant in Jack and the Beanstalk.”
“Right. That was a giant. A giant with a castle in the clouds.”
“What if they’re real?” she asked from the backseat. “What if they’re not in the clouds, but they’re hiding down here? Like behind those mountains over there?”
“Could be,” he said. “I can’t see over those mountains, so they could be there.”
“Would they be mean giants?” she asked from the passenger seat.
A pause, then from the backseat: “Maybe some of them. But not all. Like people. Some are mean, but most are nice.”
“Do the nice ones keep the mean ones in line?” he asked from the driver’s seat.
“Yeah. Yeah, they do.”
“Good. ‘Cause if the mean ones got loose, wouldn’t they smash things? Being giants and all, couldn’t they smash buildings to bits?”
In the rearview mirror, he could see her roll her eyes.
“Why do you go right to the violence?” she asked from the passenger seat.
“Dunno. Just figured if giants are real, then people should be worried. Those giants could snap skyscrapers like they’re made of twigs.”
“What if they’re just shy?” she asked from the backseat. “They don’t destroy things, and they don’t walk around because they’re really, really shy.”
“Could be,” he said. “So… what do they do all day?”
“Hide. Maybe they don’t want people to steal their stuff, like Jack did.”
“Like when he stole the giant’s gold?” he asked.
“Exactly,” she said from the backseat.
“But what if they built castles in the clouds to get away from us?”
“Even that’s not safe. As proven by the story.”
“True, true. I suppose they’re smart to hide then.”
“Yep. ‘Cause they’re really good at it.”
The three of them looked far into the distance, at the clouds and mountains, and tried to see if they could spot any evidence of giants.
The Earth had had enough. The planet was taking matters into its own hands.
This time, well beyond the events we had grown accustomed to happening on a somewhat-regular basis. The powerful hurricanes, “ordinary” earthquakes, underwater earthquakes leading to tsunamis, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions.
The ground moved. Some people said it was like a conveyor belt, the belt ending and dropping everything into a pit. Then, miles away from the pit, the land opened and out came the buildings, roads, trees, cars. But all those materials were in pieces. Like a bunch of machines below the Earth’s surface had crushed the materials, chewed them up, and spit out the pieces above ground.
But no machines were doing that crushing and chewing. The Earth had its own devices.
So the people who said it was like a tumbling compost bin were more accurate. The kind of bin where you throw your food waste and yard clippings, then you rotate the bin to stir up all the goodies, aerate them, in the hope they will break down and become lovely, nutricious compost for your garden.
If more people did that in real life, perhaps The Churning would not have happened.
The event occurred randomly around the planet. Scientists said they found no reason why some places were affected while others were not. If the Earth wanted to cause the highest impact, only the big cities would’ve been churned.
And some big cities had been churned. I tried typing the names of those cities for this piece, but I broke down and couldn’t do it. Everything I’ve heard about those cities, the movies I’ve seen where the action took place in those cities. Gone. Gone before I had a chance to visit them. Of course I would not have visited all of them, especially the ones far away from me. But I liked knowing they existed. They were parts of humanity’s tapestry.
That tapestry has been ripped and new patches sewn.
Seeing news coverage was mind-blowing. I didn’t believe my eyes. It has to be a movie, I thought. But no, it was real. I heard the whapping of the helicopter’s blades above the cameraman. I saw the land moving, dropping, a fresh mass reappearing. The Churning.
Then came news coverage of the aftermath. Rubble mixed with dirt. If the Earth wanted renewal, why not keep the human-made stuff underground? Why not replace it with just dirt above-ground? People said it was to remind us of not being more careful. Maybe they’re right.
We were shocked by the horror coming from below us. We’d been scared of aliens attacking us, meteors smashing us. Death from above. But it came in the opposite direction.
And now, as the dust has settled, we have no way of knowing if a second Churning will happen. So people are living as if it will happen at any time, and there’s chaos.
The words were loud and unexpected in the city square. The words surprised me. Everyone else sitting at tables in the cafes seemed surprised, too. We looked around to find the source of the words.
“I repeat, get up and form a line on the south side of the square.”
A few people spotted him first. As they said, “Over there,” other people turned to see the speaker of those words.
A man in a gray suit and tie and fedora stood by the fountain at the square’s center. He held a microphone plugged into a speaker on the stone ground.
“We will begin inquires shortly,” the man said. “They will proceed more quickly if you are organized about it.”
Ridiculous. Because the man wore a suit and tie and fedora, we were supposed to follow his instructions? Must’ve been a prank or street theater — something like that. Around me, people muttered, asked each other what was going on.
“I haven’t made myself clear,” the man said. “This is not voluntary. A new government program has begun. We are questioning citizens to ensure only true patriots live in our beloved country. Anyone with anti-government views will be sent to a special school, where they can learn how to become true patriots.”
Even more ridiculous. This had to be fake. A film school student was completing an assignment. Any moment, the student director would appear next to guy holding a videocamera. All part of some strange art film.
Soldiers marched from the south entrance into the city square. I didn’t recognize their gray uniforms. They weren’t dressed like the soldiers I had seen on the news. Nor were they dressed like police officers I had seen. Their automatic rifles could’ve been movie props. I don’t know.
People buzzed around me, their repeated asking what was going on grew more worried, more frantic. Some people sounded panicked.
Men and women in gray suits entered the square from the north entrance. They carried desks and chairs, which they set down and arranged in a row.
The original man in the suit said, “Anyone who does not comply will be sent to the special school. They will be taught how to follow instructions and how to become a true patriot.”
A few people stood and walked to the south side of the square. That was all it took. More and more people got up from their chairs and joined them. Me among them. We formed a line, a quiet line, and watched the soldiers who watched us. We waited for the next instruction.
The crash was difficult and embarrassing. Arrested in a Las Vegas hotel room, no time to hide the cocaine — although the cops surely would’ve found it anyway. At least the woman wasn’t paid company. Although, she — Katie? Kaylee? — had enjoyed what his money could buy.
Serving jail time became a marker in Brandon Keener’s life. A separation of what came before and what happened afterward.
Lock-up reminded him of an earlier marker. High school English class, an assignment was finally given that was much better than Shakespeare — which was hard to understand and boring except for the sword-fighting scenes.
“The Most Dangerous Game,” by Richard Connell, was short and thrilling. Brandon had enjoyed The Hunger Games, but that was set in another world, another time. The short story could’ve happened in the current world.
Brandon was more focused than most of his peers after high school. While others partied, Brandon studied for his classes — and the stock market. Rarely did he go to a party and blow off steam.
After college, he landed an entry-level job at a consulting firm. The hours were long, but Brandon still studied stocks. Fortunately for him, mom and dad had paid for college in full, so he wasn’t burdened with paying back a loan. His available money was invested in stocks.
Some of his risky bets lost money, but some hit big. The financial rewards were reinvested. While others went to restaurants and clubs, his money bought stocks.
When Brandon was in his mid-thirties, he quit his job to trade stocks full-time. He relaxed his policy of just occasionally going out. Now he could afford better restaurants and clubs than his peers.
That relaxing was controllable for a while in going out with friends and dating. He bought an enviable condo and filled it with expensive toys. He jetted off on luxurious vacations with various women. Top-shelf booze flowed and drugs were inhaled.
Brandon’s control slipped and the dam burst. He lost big at card tables in Vegas. Stumbled to the suite and partied harder than he ever had. Then lock-up.
He came to feel grateful for jail. After he survived the transition to sobriety, he poured energy into exercising his body and mind. Lifted weights and read business books, which gave him an historical perspective that wasn’t part of his research when he was younger.
Once into freedom, Brandon focused on rebuilding his wealth. And he acted smarter how he spent free time. No drugs, only booze. No crazy gambling trips.
Brandon purchased a large swath of wilderness land and hired a contractor to build a spacious lodge. He asked his old drug dealer for other contacts, and through a network, Brandon met “Mr. Dulin,” who wore a thick gold necklace and claimed to be able to deliver what Brandon wanted.
Sure enough, Mr. Dulin brought a man in his fifties to the lodge, the man’s head covered in a hood and his wrists restrained together.
Excitement thrilled through Brandon as he explained to the stranger: “You’ll get two days to rest. Then the door to your room will be unlocked. I’ll give you three hours head-start. Then I’ll hunt you. If you can make it off my property, you’ll be a hundred grand richer. I’ll give you a phone number to call.”
“What the fuck,” the stranger yelled. “Are you fucking crazy?”
“No,” Brandon said. “Just inspired.”
The stranger was placed in a locked cabin away from the lodge. He never saw Brandon’s face. The cabin was stocked with food and clothes.
On the morning of the release, Brandon’s voice came through a speaker in the cabin: “You have two hours until starting time.” The man yelled it was unfair and his captor really was fucking crazy.
The door was unlocked. Cameras on the cabin’s exterior showed Brandon that the stranger rushed off. Bulging pockets on his jacket showed that likely food was stuffed in them.
Brandon killed the man that afternoon. Didn’t take long for Brandon to track him, as the stranger wasn’t careful in rushing through the woods. Brandon could’ve bought a rifle and shot the man from long range, but that didn’t seem sporting. Nor as rewarding. So Brandon walked closer to the stranger. Let the stranger see the face of his killer. Raised the pistol and fired three times. Exhilaration and nerves burst in Brandon. The death was wrong, yet he could not deny the rush he had felt. Better than drugs.
Brandon called Mr. Dulin and told him they were going to have a long and profitable relationship. At Brandon’s request, Mr. Dulin’s delivered younger, more fit strangers. They came in different seasons to mix up Brandon’s game. And he mixed up the weapons he used.
Every time, he told himself that each stranger had a chance to win more money than they’d earn in a year. And every time, he killed them and burned their bodies and buried their ashes.
The scene could’ve been in a fairy tale, even though Harriet knew that wasn’t the host’s intention. Asher Griffin aimed instead for a scene in an Edgar Allan Poe story.
That was how Owen had described an over-the-top Asher Griffin party fo Harriet. Growing up with parents who loved to entertain, Asher appeared to have caught the bug. His parties weren’t held at the Griffin mansion, however. Once or twice a year, Asher rented a beautiful venue and threw a party in such themes as Venetian masquerade, Victorian gothic, and Great Gatsby.
Tonight was Harriet’s first time at one of the soirees, and she now believed Owen’s stories about Asher. The two men had met in college and swiftly became great friends. Owen didn’t belong in the wealthy arena of the Griffins, but his quirky sense of humor and his love of discussing literature more than sports meshed well with Asher.
Harriet had been introduced to Owen’s friend over dinner in a seafood restaurant, where she had enjoyed his boyish attractiveness and his enthusiasm to learn about her. She had assumed he would be stuck up and unleash comments like “Oh my goodness, the Côte d’Azur is delish!” She was glad her prediction had been off the mark.
After that night, Harriet had told some of her friends about the experience. They had suggested she should’ve ditched Owen in favor of Asher. The choice was akin to the woman’s version of Betty or Veronica, and a sizable percentage of the men to whom the friends had posed the choice had picked Veronica for the family bank account.
Except that Harriet had been dating Owen for ten months and she was too smitten to cast him aside for a rich man who made a good first impression. A man who might’ve had undiscovered hang-ups. Besides, Harriet didn’t match Asher’s type. According to Owen, Asher tended to date women who also came from wealthy families, and they zipped off to luxurious locales at the drop of a hat.
Here was a locale made more dream-like by the strings of fairy lights swooping from tree to tree in the spacious patio between a house and lake. The large house could’ve belonged to a tycoon during the Gilded Age of the 1920s. If so, this party would’ve likely fit with the parties of old: pretty little lights, glow of lanterns, well-dressed guests, waiters carrying silver trays of hors d’oeuvre and strolling amid the crowd.
Harriet thought the party’s masquerade theme added a bit of mystery. She would not have known the other guests without their masks. This was a societal circle in which she did not fly. Yet it was delish to fly in the circle for a night.
A series of tinking sounds calmed conversations and caused the guests to turn toward Asher standing on an ornate metal chair and tapping his cocktail glass with a spoon.
“Wonderful to see all of you tonight,” Asher said. “Thank you for making the long journey from the city.” (Long was subjective; the journey from city to lake had taken a few hours’ drive.) “I chose this place because the view is quite lovely.”
The host extended a hand to the lake, as if welcoming a special guest. The tiny lights were reflected on the lake’s surface, still and soft in dusk’s light. The trees ringing the lake and the few other houses were also soft in the dwindling sunlight of late summer.
Asher continued, “But that’s not the only reason I chose it. There’s a story about this lake. You see, folks around here say a creature lives in there.”
Murmuring came among the guests, and one gentleman said, “You realize we’re not in Scotland, don’t you?”
Asher laughed. “Come now, Reggie. I haven’t had that much to drink. Not yet, anyway.” As laughter from the guests faded, Asher said, “But Reggie’s right. We’re not in Scotland. Is this creature related to Nessie? I don’t know. But the locals say the creature comes out at night, under the cover of darkness. Easier to hunt that way. They call it Mugrik.”
“Just a myth!” another gentleman said.
The pessimistic statement brightened Asher’s face. “Maybe it is. But what if it’s not? What if we get to see this amazing thing? Wouldn’t that be fantastic?”
While some in the crowd gave encouraging comments, most guests downplayed the idea, calling it preposterous.
“We’ll have to wait and see,” Asher said. “Most likely, it’ll show up after midnight. And if it does show up, we can run into the mansion. We’ll be perfectly safe there. But in the meantime, please take a gondola ride while you can. The rides stop promptly at eleven o’clock.”
As the host stepped down from the chair, the guests returned to conversing in groups clustered around the patio.
Harriet thought Asher’s phrase “perfectly safe” was wrong. No such place existed. The risk of something bad happening always loomed over you. People were struck by lightning. People died in house fires. Granted, the risk was low of those events — but they did happen.
“You seriously think he believes in this thing?” Harriet asked.
Owen chuckled and said, “He really could. He’s mentioned it to me before. The Mugrik. Weird name. But it doesn’t really matter if he believes in it. He wants it to be true. He wants to see it with all these people around, all these witnesses. He wants to throw a party that nobody forgets.”
“I’m not going to forget this,” Harriet said. “It’s beautiful.”
“But the monster adds a nice touch, doesn’t it?”
Harriet had to agree.
The creature also added a conversation starter, one beyond the standards: What do you do for a living? How do you know Asher? Where are you from?
At times, Owen wasn’t by Harriet’s side, as he went to order more drinks or headed inside the house for the restroom. Harriet wasn’t very comfortable in a crowd of strangers, but the cocktails helped ease her mild anxiety. Everyone she talked with was polite, some even cheery. The other guests seemed to know each other (at least somewhat), and they were quick to fill silences during conversations with Harriet.
She and Owen joined the line on the dock. They watched the three gondolas glide along the shoreline. The wait wasn’t long for the dating couple to have a turn in a boat.
When the gondola departed the dock, Harriet said, “Why aren’t the boats going to the middle of the lake?”
“It gets too deep for our poles,” said the gondolier, a woman dressed in black-and-white striped shirt. “We could go farther than this, but we’ve been asked to stay close to the shore.”
Harriet guessed Asher had been behind that instruction, to give guests the idea that the lake’s center was too dangerous. A probable ruse. A lantern hung from the boat’s prow, its light dancing on the water. She imagined a beast’s head breaking the water’s surface, rising high above them, the long neck stretching. A silly idea. Harriet leaned against Owen and gave into the romance of the sliding boat.
Back on land, as the evening progressed, Harriet hoped the monster would appear and she hoped it wouldn’t. Its arrival would’ve been thrilling. She would’ve tried to snap a photo, record a video with her phone. She and Owen would’ve gone into the house, out the front door, to their car in the parking area, and driven off. Surely, they were faster than the older guests. A calculation from horror movies: the slowest of the fleeing mob was killed/eaten first.
But escape wasn’t guaranteed. She and Owen could’ve been in the car, and the monster could’ve breathed fire and roasted them — if the beast had such a power.
Harriet didn’t want the creature to stomp out of the lake simply because it would’ve ruined the luxurious time she was having. She inwardly laughed at herself for imagining the creature.
Guests said good-byes and left in small groups, and eventually half of the original crowd remained. Then a third. Then a fourth. They claimed to be ready to stay until sunrise. Then they would head to their hotels, their bed-and-breakfasts, and get some sleep. They could arrange for another night’s stay if checkout time was too early. Or slip the maid some cash to come later for cleaning the room.
As for the lake house, Asher had rented it until noon. Some of the catering staff left, and the remaining ones replenished the coffee urns and trays of desserts.
Owen switched from drinking wine to coffee before Harriet did. She was relieved. A few of the previous men she had dated would’ve continued swallowing booze — especially free and high quality — for as long as liquor bottles were available. She liked to think her taste in men had matured along with herself. She saw no need to drink tonight until she stumbled about.
Harriet also liked that Owen was game to stay at the party. The atmosphere was pleasant by the two fire pits. Harriet now felt the guests were friends from long ago rather than people she had met tonight. They kidded each other, they talked of other times they had stayed up through the night, like when they were kids and it was a grand adventure to see how the world looked when they would’ve typically been asleep. The magic of those times.
Harriet picked up a lantern and walked with Owen to the dock. To the end. They gazed into the dark water. Gazed across it, and were unable to see the opposite shore. Gazed at the stars seeming to envy the fairy lights still lit.
“If that thing actually exists and comes up,” Owen said, “we’re goners for sure.”
She grabbed his hand and squeezed. “So be it.”
The night had transitioned from a Poe-inspired party to It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Harriet found enjoyment in both stages, as did Owen. A good sign for their future.
April 22, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about earthing. Put a character’s hands, feet or body and soul into the earth. Who needs recharging? What happens between the interaction? Go where the prompt leads!
A Pause in the Rush to Keep Up by Dave Williams
News said it was popular and she thought Why not? so she went to a creek trail and normally she would’ve felt happy inside the weekend crowd but not now so she went Monday (work was slow) and the walk was quieter, a pause from pre-Covid trend-flitting: coffee shops wine bars brunch cafes fusion restaurants new movies.
Seeing someone else do it inspired her to sit on a stone amid the creek, eyes closed. Listen. Water birds wind.
Her own idea: remove shoes and socks, barefoot in the creek. Feel. Chilly water smooth pebbles. Life underneath trends.
April 15, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that seeds generosity. Who is generous and why? Think of generosity as planting a future outcome. Go where the prompt leads!
Little Steps Back by Dave Williams
Charles apologized, muttered “I thought I was ready,” took his coffee cup, left the table. Startling Scott. Yet he snagged sense, followed Charles from the cafe, joined him strolling the sidewalk. Scott said, “We clicked online, let’s not leave it like this.” Charles said, “I warned you.” Charles’s message on the dating website: long relationship ended, time passed, he was taking little steps back. Scott, pointing to the park a block away, said, “Let’s sit. You need a friend more than a boyfriend. I’ll listen when you’re ready to talk.” Charles gave a little smile as they kept walking.
A piece of flash fiction with breaking news about the letter a….
A Big Change by Dave Williams
The a has decided to change its form. The a realizes this is a big change, so it hopes you are seated while reading this.
The a has been the same ‘a’ and ‘A’ for many years, and it would like to “mix things up.”
After this change, the a would like to retain its position in the forefront of the alphabet. No need to mess up the countless alphabetical lists in the world. If the lists were rendered out of order overnight and required reordering the next day, chaos would ensue. We don’t need additional chaos in this sensitive time.
While the a recognizes this design change to be significant, it does not view the change as chaotic. Does a caterpillar cause chaos by transforming into a butterfly? A tadpole into a frog? A blossom into an apple? The a states a firm “no” to these three questions and hopes you do the same.
The same: that can be comforting in a predictable sense, but also yawn-inducing. The a has had quite enough of the same. The a is weary of stifling its yawns due to the worry of offending people. The a has decided that anyone offended by this change can take their offended emotion and stuff it up the back end of the z.
Do humans not embark on vacations? Do birds and whales and caribou not migrate long distances over land and/or sea? Through four generations, Monarch butterflies complete a 3,000-mile migration through North America. Think about that as you sit on your fanny and sip coffee and complain about rush-hour traffic.
The a does not wish to migrate in the physical sense of the word. It is fine with staying at each place it is typed or written on a page or screen. Each of those places in a word and sentence and paragraph is distinctive and carries the potential to be thrilling. Indeed, each word carries emotional weight. The word “sad” is, of course, sad. Not just for readers, however. The word is also sad for each letter within it. Contrast that with the word “hullaballoo.” Not only is that word fun for humans to say, it is also fun for the letters within it. If you look closely at the word, you may even see the letters quivering from the mirth they feel.
Some humans may complain about the a’s choice to change its form. But the a counters that humans change names with marriage, adoption, and the desire to do it. Humans change their hairstyles (including facial hair) to try something “different.” They change their wardrobes for the practical purpose of seasonal weather changes, as well as the whims of fashion. They change their appearance through acquiring tattoos. Some may wear a new hat for a week “just to see how it looks on me.”
The a asks: Do you believe its desire to change is unfair? If so, why do you believe in different rules for humans than letters?
The a states the change might not be permanent. It might be, as with the example of human vacations, a temporary change. The a acknowledges this would cause additional confusion, changing then changing back to the previous form, yet the a finds this to be an acceptable consequence of its actions.
The a considers the most significant consequence of changing is the use of the term “A-frame house.” After all, the A reflects the actual form of the structure. Yet the a believes in humans to be creative in inventing a new term for these structures. The a humbly suggests “Upside-down V-frame house.”
The a is mulling over a few options of its new form. Below is the forerunner. Please keep on the lookout for news of the a’s decision.
Spring brought pollen that caused sneezes and itchy eyes in some people, and spring brought warmth that scratched some people’s itch to get on the water without feeling they were following the path of Ernest Shackleton’s famous expedition.
Which was Janine’s description of being on their sailboat in winter. Which caused Mikayla to sigh and call her wife melodramatic. At least Janine was open to going for walks — as long as she bundled up. The walks were good for exercise, good to breathe fresh air, and a good way to get out of the house during Covid-19 limitations. Their favorite restaurants were open only for take-out and delivery. The couple picked up restaurant food on weekend nights and ate while wading through seasons of TV shows they had heard were entertaining.
Then spring. Warmth, green, dots of other colors, louder bird singing. Mikayla and Janine unshackled from their home and drove to the docks to their home away from home: Lucy Pevensie. The ladies were unmasked, the boat was untied from the pillar. All were set free and felt wind on their faces, water underneath. Like being part of a song. At first, Mikayla and Janine’s actions knocked off the little rust that accumulated during winter, then they moved smoothly.
Warmer weather brought picnic weekends, and the race from the dock to claim the popular picnic spots. This Saturday, the early alarm woke both women, and Mikayla dressed while Janine begged for a few more minutes in her coziness under the blankets. Mikayla’s threat to leave without her was enough for Janine to get out of bed. Lunch had been packed in the fridge the previous night. Mikayla and Janine transferred the food into a cooler and tote bags, and set off for the dock.
Then aboard Lucy Pevensie and on the water. The morning air tasted fresher than their usual, later hour of starting off. They maneuvered to catch as much wind as possible while aiming for their favorite island. Not just their favorite, but among other boaters, too. They managed to pass Third Wish, belonging to the affable Hoovers, who always were up for sharing their margaritas (on the rocks).
“Better luck next time!” Mikayla shouted.
Doug Hoover shook a raised fist, but he was smiling. Also smiling was his wife Valerie, who gave a peaceful wave.
Mikayla and Janine anchored near the island, loaded the inflatable raft, and declared the day’s victory as the raft bumped the rock and they scrambled on it. The island was a large rock with a few tough trees growing in dirt lodged in the cracks.
The women would spend the day in a kind of heaven. Listening to the gulls and lapping waves. Looking at other boats and fantasizing about the horizon. Feasting on a variety of goodies and sipping wine. Smelling the salt air. Lounging in the sunshine like turtles.
And even Janine would plunge into the chilly water for quick swims, given the promise of a warmed towel and sunshine to dry her.