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Cruel Waters - A Short Story

The crashing waves swallowed her last breath, and the girl broke through the brutal surface in choking desperation. The sensation of burning was instantly apparent as, in her haste for oxygen, she had inhaled what felt like a lungful of seawater.
She turned her head frantically from left to right as she tried to pick out any signs of life amongst the darkness. If it wasn’t for the slight slither of moonlight riding the tops of the waves, it would have been impossible to tell the difference between sea and sky. 
“Help,” a weak voice cried. “Please help!”
The child’s words sliced deep into the girl’s heart. “It’s okay kid, I’m coming,” she shouted into the storm, hoping to sound reassuring.  She stared out blindly, trying to pinpoint which direction the call had come from.
“Hurry!” Replied the child, who was growing weaker by the second. “I’m – ”
But his words were consumed by a roaring crash from the merciless tempest.
The voice seemed to be coming from somewhere to the teenager’s right. She kicked off her battered trainers and left them to sink down into the murky depths. Taking a sharp, deep breath she plunged back into the icy water.

An eerie silence engulfed her. The fear which had been grasping her heart released its hold slightly, and for the first time she could really consider what was happening. They had been on a ship. They were having fun. But then the little boy had fallen from the railings and everything had gone wrong. 
A movement in the inky water caught her attention. She swam towards it, battling against the determined tide. Breaking through the surface felt like awakening from a surreal dream, and once again she was subject to the ever-more-forceful storm. Instinct told her she was close, so she called out into the wind. “Hello?”
After several seconds a desperate wheeze answered her, as a child’s head emerged from the water. He must only have been about seven or eight, and his fearful eyes widened when he saw her.
 “It’s okay, it’s okay,” The girl shouted above the roar. “My name’s Zoe. What’s yours?”
“Jacob,” he replied, struggling to keep his head above the choppy waves. His teeth were chattering violently and his face looked ghostly white in comparison to their black surroundings. His pyjamas were plastered to his body and even his thick dressing gown could do nothing to keep him warm.
“You need to take this off,” Zoe yelled, gesturing to Jacob’s robe.
“I can’t. It’s too cold!”  He pleaded.
“You have to. It’s weighing you down. If you don’t, you’ll sink.” Zoe knew the truth was harsh, but she needed the boy to understand. “Come on!”
“I can’t, I can’t!” Jacob cried, his arms flailing as the thrashing water brought him further under.
 “Yes you can. I’ll hold you up, just undo the belt. Hurry!” Zoe swam around so she was behind Jacob, and held his waist the way she had seen lifeguards do. Kicking frantically to keep them both afloat, she asked him if he was ready. He nodded, took a deep breath and let himself be swallowed by the water. The task which, under any other circumstances, would have taken mere seconds dragged out to what felt like an eternity. 

Eventually he emerged, spluttering and coughing. Zoe pulled the gown down past his shoulders and over his arms in one swift movement, and then let it sink down into the ocean’s grasp. As soon as it was clear of Jacob’s body, the tops of his shoulders surfaced above the tide.
“Well done!” Zoe tried to smile between gasping for breath. “Now just keep kicking your legs – help will be coming soon.” She hoped to convince the young stranger, though she had no idea when, or if, help would arrive.
Jacob thrust his legs back and forth, concentrating on staying in one place. The ferocious storm was disorientating and he had no idea where the ship was. He had no idea where they were. All he knew was that he felt safer with Zoe than he had done all night, and he didn’t want to lose her in the darkness.

 A look of confusion crossed Zoe’s face as something rough grazed against her ankle. Every time she kicked out she could feel it tugging, and after a few seconds panic overcame her. She filled her lungs with the salty air and forced her head under the water.
Again, the sense of a ghostly dream overwhelmed her, but this time her terror did not subside. The current shoved her forwards and back and her gut feeling told her she was in trouble . . . her eyes fixed on her ankle where she saw a rope twisted around it. It was a fishing net. She was trapped. 
The hand clutching her heart gripped tighter, and even as she reached down she knew it would be impossible to escape. Every time she struggled she could feel it tightening, and soon it was rubbing her ankle raw. She began desperately to wrench at it with her fingers, but to no avail. She felt her chest starting to tense and, defeated, she followed her trail of bubbles back to the surface.

Jacob became aware of Zoe’s presence once again, but did not turn around. A light on the waves had caught his attention, and it seemed to be coming towards them. “I think it’s a ship!” He cried above the howling wind as he finally turned round to face Zoe. She looked distracted. “What’s wrong?” He called.
After a moment’s pause, she replied, “Nothing, I’m fine. Thought I saw something, that’s all.”  Finally she looked up from the water. “Now where’s this ship?”
“Over there,” Jacob nodded, turning to face it once more. “I think it’s trying to find us. It’s got one of those search lights. See?”
Sure enough, the shape seemed to be beaming a light across the water. The prospect of being found gave the boy more energy, and after a few minutes he started shouting. “Help! We’re over here!” He yelled, waving his arms frantically in the darkness.

Zoe gave him a sideways look. Even though he had more hope now, Jacob was looking more drained than ever. When she caught glimpses of his fingers they were blue, his breath came out in rasps and he was shivering uncontrollably. 
“Here,” she said, coming up beside him. “Lean on me.” So Jacob waved with one arm, while the other was wrapped around Zoe’s neck. The ship was now close enough to see the individual lights through the storm.   They both started shouting, waving and splashing; trying to get its attention. The search light swept over the water, and as it reached them they had to shield their eyes from the beam.
Zoe strained her neck to look up at the deck, and saw a member of the crew leaning over.
“You’re going to be okay,” he bellowed. “Put this round you!”
A splash followed, and looking down Zoe saw a lifebuoy only a few metres ahead of them. She grabbed Jacob’s hand and together they swam across to it. She lifted it out of the water and checked the rope was still tightly attached. It felt heavy and was big enough for the both of them, but the harsh pain in her ankle told her she would be going no further.
Instead, she put the ring over the boy’s head, not bringing herself to look at him properly. “Ready!” She yelled in the direction of the ship, putting a hand on Jacob’s shoulder. However when she lowered her arms as he began to be pulled away, his tiny hand grasped hers.
“Aren’t you coming too?”
Zoe glanced up at Jacob. He looked exhausted; there were grey crescents under his big eyes and his breathing was shallow, but his face was full of concern.
“Not yet.” She said, forcing herself to smile. “They’ll come back for me when they’ve got you. Don’t worry. I’ll see you soon.”
She let her hand slip away from his, and watched him go until the darkness had completely consumed him. Jacob was safe. Everything was going to be alright.

Her legs began to slow, and her eyes gradually started to close. All the noise of the storm seemed to fade away. The waves she had once been battling with now felt as if they were rocking her, soothing her exhausted body. Her chest started to unclench and she was no longer aware of her shivering and pain. She only yearned for sleep. Sleep would make everything better.

Bit by bit she sank down into the water, and as her breathing slowed, she felt no regret in saving the stranger. She felt no terror even though she was trapped. She only felt guilty that she had told the boy she would see him soon. Because she knew now that she never would.


~Effy x

How Lucky We Are

How Lucky We Are

That we can see the world and see the sun,

See the river water run,

Look into the sky and see the dove,

Look into the eyes of those we love.

 

Imagine those who cannot see,

The earth, the sky, both you and me,

Imagine those who cannot glance,

At trees, and doves, and river banks.

 

Living is a world of opposite things,

Is it a dove, or a vulture that sings?

 

Living alone in their own small world,

They can only believe in what they’ve been told,

But maybe the most inspiring thing,

Is that they can decide which birds do sing.

 

They live in a world as black as night,

They miss much more than loss of sight,

Include them in the world with us,

Don't pity and don't make a fuss.

From their darkness, let them see.
From the solitary, let them be free.


~Effy x

 


Original Ideas

I enjoy creating new characters.  I create more of them than I can stories to write them into.  Mostly the ideas come from people I know or know of.  I have all these people wandering round my head and I don't know what to do with them all!  It's like they have their own little town in my imagination so they all know each other in different ways - kind of like my own version of Terry Pratchett's Disk World maybe.  It sounds mad I know but it keeps them all enclosed at least!

I - and I know this sounds bad - listen to a lot of people's conversations when I'm in town or a park or wherever, and I think "Hmmm, I might be able to use that".  I've started to keep a sketchbook in my bag so I can quickly draw the scene and jot down what's been said - whether it's funny, thought-provoking or just a good story.  I wonder if original thought is copyrighted... if it is I'm in real trouble!  In any case, it's difficult to come up with a plot that hasn't already been covered in a book I read or a film I've seen.

But can you really blame me?  It seems difficult to come up with much 'original thought' when surrounded by so many stories which will have influenced my imagination from childhood - and there are so many stories!  Two thousand and ten years of them!  Now not just written as books or performed as plays but filmed and broadcast in dozens of countries.  And you wonder why I can't think of much completely new stuff... 

Oh well, complaining over.  Pass me a pen.

~ Effy x


PS - I'd just like to write a line about my friend George.  He's reliable, hilarious and just generally fantastic.  Life just wouldn't be the same without this utterly awesome guy.
 
There you go George, I wrote you into a post!!

...sort of.

What would happen if...

What would have happened if Sherlock Holmes was a woman?

...Well, he'd probably have been exactly the same actually.  But annoyingly leading ladies don't seem to be able to get away with being as egoistic, suave or indeed irritating as men can.  It's not sexist, men and women just typically carry off different character traits in film, tv etc.  A pity really - my sister could play Sherlock perfectly, but would it work on film?  Or is our modern society open enough to accept and try out flipped male/female roles? 

They keep talking about having a female Doctor Who, so it seems we might be getting there.  Yet I can't help worrying if female leads will not get taken seriously.  Men have taken the lead for so long, adjusting could be hard.  Or am I just making too bit a deal over it?

In any case, I'd like to see the changes to the plot if Sherlock was re-created female - not only iPhones and escalators but mascara and multi-tasking!  Should Watson also be female?  Or maybe it would be more interesting if only Watson was a woman.  Think of the possibilities!

Maybe I'll get round to writing and filming this some day...  I hope so.

Watch this space ;)

~ Effy x

Competitive vs. Determined

Determination + setting goals you can reach = success

Some people may think they're better than others because they're faster, stronger, more intelligent... whatever.  I always think these people need to stop comparing themselves to others.  There's a difference between being competitive and being determined; in a race, the person furiously trying to beat all others is competitive whereas the person only trying to push themselves to be the best they can be is determined.  Which of these has the better outlook do you think?  Who's more likely to succeed?

...Perhaps that's just me being fussy with words, but it reminds me not to compare myself to others - that way the only person who knows my failures is me!

~ Effy x



 

Why write a blog?

Why is it that we, as humans, feel the need to document our past?  Horses don't keep a diary; penguins don't write a blog... 

This thought came up from my decision to start commiting myself to writing regularly rather than my past diary entries once every other month - if that.  Every time I started writing I'd put something along the lines of "Sorry I haven't written in a while Diary, I've been busy" which made me question why I felt the need to apologise to something only I would ever read.  After watching BBC's Sherlock religiously I came to the conclusion that if I wrote a blog instead I would hopefully feel more compelled to write.  And so why is writing so important to me?  Because I love words, sentences, the flow of text composed properly, and because although I've written chapters and chapters of novels, I can count the ones I've finished on one hand.  Without using three fingers.  That's a tragedy in itself, because I never put aside enough time just to... write.  So here's me, writing.

Going back to my original question, I don't know why it is that we feel the need to blog, keep accounts, tweet etc.  Maybe because we make more mistakes than other species - or regret more things.  Maybe we have a unique interest in discovering what happened lifetimes before our own.  Maybe we just have bad memories.  In any case, other species must be missing out, because while they're foraging for food, rolling in the mud and barking up trees, we're documenting history.

~ Effy x

Writer's Block: Love is timeless

What is your opinion of relationships where there is a significant age difference between partners?

In my opinion, the meaning of an age gap changes depending on the ages of the partners.  For example, because of education a sixteen year old may find it a lot harder to date someone even five years older than them, yet a thirty year old may not.  Another dependant is wants for the future - someone in their late twenties may be thinking of settling down whereas someone who's just turned twenty is at the very beginning of their life so may not.  This kind of thing is where diffuculties may arise between partners with a significant age gap, yet to be honest the situation differs from couple to couple.  Depending on maturity, past experiences, future ideals and much more, for some people it may work and for others it just won't.

However, I must say that I wouldn't advise a significant age difference between teenagers/young adults because of pressures, school, idealisms etc.  Speaking as a teenager myself, I doubt a relationship like that would end well in most cases - but then again this is just my opinion.  I'm sure many couples of all ages have got it to work and in the end, happiness, trust and honesty are what we all strive for in relationships; if this is found in such a relationship, there's always a possibility it can work.

~ Effy x