Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Writing Prompt Wednesday: A Photo Story

Welcome to LGP's (Lil Georgia Peach) very first Writing Prompt Wednesday! Here's how it works. At the top of the post will be the writing prompt. If you're going to write it (which I hope that you will) write yours before you read mine. It will take some self discipline on your part because I'll post mine right beneath the prompt. 

When you're done, post a link in the comments to what you came up with from the prompt. I'd love to read it! I also want to hear what you think of mine, so feel free to post that in the comments as well. Now let's get started.

Prompt: Take a look at the picture below. Write about it.

Photo Credit

I was all alone. My raft had been floating for what I guessed to be about three days since the storm that sunk the ship and my family along with it. It was hard to tell how many days had gone by. I was getting hopelessly thirsty and the salt water I was floating on only made me angry. I would fall asleep in the heat of the day and wake and sleep and wake and sleep to the point that I wasn't sure how many days had actually passed. I think I was starting to hallucinate. It wasn't my idea to go for a trip on the yacht. In fact, my younger brother had to basically drag me onto the boat. It's not that I don't like the boat itself. I hate what lies beneath.

What does lie beneath a boat? That's just it. I don't know. There is so much vast unknowingness and that is what frightened me the most. A sea creature could pop up at any moment and eat me whole. I almost wished that it would, although that would probably put me stuck in it's belly with the stench of rotting fish and without the sunshine to keep me somewhat sane. Although at this point every visible piece of my skin was fried by that beautiful sunshine and I didn't love it so much as I usually do.

I closed my eyes hoping it would be for the last time and that I would peacefully slip away into that paradise in the sky. My mind began to wander to all the wonderful moments of my life. The fun times I'd spent with family and friends. Then I couldn't help but think of all my regrets, the biggest being, getting on that yacht. As I was just about to fall asleep, a splash of water hit me square in the face. The salt in the water seeped into my eyes and I quickly sat up to prevent further stinging. My sudden movement caused my raft to tilt and I nearly slipped off and into the abyss below. It was a miracle that I pulled myself back onto the top.

I sat there panting, wondering what had caused the splash and why I was so eager to live when I saw something ahead in the distance. It was white sails and they were framed by a background of green. Land! There was a ship and it was anchored on land! I was saved! I began to paddle towards the ship but quickly got tired. I couldn't stop now. I had to make it, I had to get to the ship before they left. This could be my one chance to get back to my home.

But what was at home that I was so eager to return to? An empty house full of nothing but memories of my loved ones lost at sea? But there was something inside me that was pushing me to make it to that island. It must have been a mix of my hazy mind and dehydration. After hours and hours of paddling and resting I got close enough to the island to see it clearly. It was no hallucination. It was a real island with real trees and there was a real ship parked right there close to shore.

I was so exhausted from paddling there that I let the raft drift the rest of the way to shore. As I got closer to the ship it became apparent that it had been there for a long time. If I was lucky, this meant that the crew on land probably had enough food and water for a long stay. I could almost taste the cool crisp water sliding down my throat and into my stomach. I could almost smell cooking meat and vegetables. What I wouldn't give for a soft, comfortable bed.

When my raft reached the boat, I slid off and called out to see if anyone was on board. There was no response so I assumed they were all on shore somewhere. I waded through the waist-deep water to the sandy shore and followed the mass of footprints beyond the line of trees into the forest.

A little ways off I could see a fire and I could actually smell the sweet scent of cooking meat. In my excitement I hastily ran towards the fire preparing my pitiful speech in my head on the way there. After hearing my story, no sane human could deny me some much needed hospitality. But when I made it to the fire, there was no sane human to greet me.

Strewn about on the ground were dozens of lifeless bodies, most of them appeared to be ripped to pieces although a couple were still intact. I froze in fear. What had I just walked into? I heard the crunch of footsteps on dry leaves behind me but I couldn't bring myself to turn around.

“Ahh...fressshhhh meat,” hissed a male voice.

I counted to three in my head and slowly turned around. There, standing before me, was the most hideous creature I had ever laid eyes on. He had the body of a man and wore clothes that were ripped and torn. But his face had...tentacles. He looked more fish that man. He looked like an octopus. Each tentacle was moving around on it's own, making his face look even more eerie.

My mouth, which had previously been watering at the smell of what I now assumed to be cooking human flesh, went instantly dry.

“Welcome to Octopusssss Isle,” he hissed again, “won't you ssstay for ssssupper?”

I was all alone.

I'll be on the look out for your posts!


  1. I'll subject people to mine I guess….

    Octopus Isle-

    Day 34:
    As if finding yourself on a completely deserted and jilted island were not alarming enough, I have come to realize this island breathes. And I don’t mean “breathes” as in “despite the fact that I have landed on this God-forsaken plot of floating land, I can admire the beauty and the rare flora and fauna surrounding me” type of reference. No. I can feel this rock shift and shake with life. Sure, I can hear you, reader, your derisive laughter and your quick to judgment analysis that the poor little lost girl of the island has finally gone mad. And actually, I don’t blame you. Madness was my first conclusion about a week ago. When I realized I was facing a new group of stars and when I could have sworn I felt a slight tremble as I buried my sun-burnt feet in the sand, scrunching my toes in the two sunken caves beneath me, almost as if the ground was ticklish. But no. I feel as though I can still trust my senses and that madness and post-traumatic stress are as far from my prognosis as possible.
    Once camp was set and the area explored (as far out as I dared, any way) I quickly came to the conclusion this was no typical tropical isle. The waves and tides don’t meet its shores; it’s almost as if the isle comes to them. There are some days I can feel the land drifting, gliding toward the horizon. Floating might be the better word. Call me crazy, but I really do believe I am living on a living island.
    Aside from this epiphany that was the highlight of my week, I have actually managed to gather enough food for the upcoming week. What I would not give for a juicy steak! Alas, I must resort to hunting berries that I hope and pray are not poisonous and greens that I can only assume are meant for the human body. Meat? forget it. Honestly, I haven’t seen much wildlife on this island, other than the insect life I have come to fear. This is just one fact I that has led me to the conclusion, this island is not like the rest.
    All this to say, I am not crazy. Lost? Yes. Anxious to be home? Yes. But hopelessly misconceived about the make-up of this land? No. What is motorizing this island throughout the ocean may just bring me home. At this point, I have accepted this extraordinary occurrence, and am now convinced that I am depending on “something,” some creature, not of a body of earth to carry me through the water. The air is chilling and my nerves are strung, so until the next entry…

    Day 36:
    I am now absolutely certain that this mass is not made of solid rock and sand. Yesterday, I saw, granted mixed in the glimpse of sunlight and dehydration, a large fearsome tentacle rise up along the beach. Slowly and peacefully, the limb slid into the depths of the water. As I watched, it didn’t startle me nearly as much as it should have. No immense sense of peril was felt, and maybe this is because I have been in a state of jeopardy for so long, or maybe it is because I am now confident in the mystery of this island, but I have finally reached a feeling of calmness. I wouldn’t call it a “come what may” theory, rather an acceptance of the fantastical feelings that come with this isle. What is beneath this sand, these trees and roots, this vegetation; beneath me? A month or more in, and I am unharmed by this living thing, so I now relinquish the fear in the breathing creature. Now, I only fear never returning home.

  2. Mallory and Jocelyn, I like your different takes on what is happening in the picture. It is interesting that Mallory's island seems to be fairly benign while Jocelyn's is quite fearsome. I'll include my story in a different comment.

  3. It is not murder when you watch a man die. Not murder to watch him die, hands reached out, not to me for I am too far, but toward me. His mouth is open in what must be a screech of agony, though I am too far to hear.

    It is not murder, even if you are glad that he died. And I am. I found him pompous and self-absorbed. He spoke to me like I didn’t have a brain in my head, like those babies born on the South-side were not issued brains. Oh but I have a brain, I used it keep my sister off the street when Mum died. Used it find her a place in a good home, a fine home with a kind mistress.

    Our neighbors want to know how I accomplished this. I did it first by watching and listening. I saw that people save their kindness for those they think deserve it. And they never think that the dirty and ill-mannered deserve it, even if that’s just the way they were raised. So I kept reasonably clean and learned to act the way they wanted, and they were kind. After I shone their shoes they paid me well, and while I did it I listened. I learned which houses were the best, and I learned who was kind. And then I just had to be in the right place at the right time, to make myself the savior in a minor mishap, and then to make such a humble and appealing request that my sister be taken on, not in some exalted position, but as kitchen maid. Now she is safe, in a home that would normally never let such as us enter even to do the scrub work.

    Being at the right place at the right time is a habit for me. I don’t know how much has been luck, and how much sheer will. I was in the right place to be taken in as ship’s boy by a wealthy merchant, who taught me alongside his own son, not only to know everything of sailing, but a little bit of reading, writing, and figuring too. And after six years I learned more than they thought, because as I quietly did my work, and as I lay in my hammock at night, I learned how to speak like them. Not aloud, never aloud, I’ve learned enough to know that kindness ends when you act above your station, but in my thoughts I speak with the grammar and inflection of a gentleman. I knew that someday I would be in the right place at the right time to leave the guttersnipe behind forever, and become someone else.

    When I signed on with this pompous buffoon I thought I had found another sweet position. A professor with enough money to leave his family comfortably tucked up in the country home while he took his attractive little sea-craft and three sea-men out on a biology exposition to find birds. Yes, birdies. Money is wasted on the rich.

  4. Then, I learned that a man can be bookish and cruel at the same time. That academic zeal can strip a man’s humanity, so that he pushes his crew heartlessly and capriciously into a storm that kills his first mate and leaves us all battered and seemingly stranded. I thought that my luck had abandoned me. Then we spotted land, a beautiful island that brought back the crazed gleam to the Professor’s eyes. Hastily he harangued Albert into the little boat so that they could row to the island. I am left behind to continue repairing the sails and as I am hoisting them back into place, I see the first sign that something is amiss with the island. I am sure that it has moved. Not the the slight ripple of a mirage, but a unmistakable change of direction. And then, a tentacle snakes out from the bottom of the island, and in an instant drags Albert off the rowboat and down into the sea. I see the professor grab the oars and start to row desperately, and he will never make it. But I am adept at watching and listening and acting at the moment where action is required. So even as I watch him dragged down, I am moving the sails to catch the strong wind that is coming from the east, and already I am sailing quickly away from the island, and I am not being pursued.

    No, I did not murder that man; he has been disposed of by the tentacles of justice. And as I sail into a foreign port, who is to say that I am not a gentlemen’s son, the sole survivor of a storm at sea. And this vessel, properly altered of course, and the money in its holds, will be my new beginning. It is not a moral way to begin a new life you will say, but I say it was a gift from a monster of the sea. And who am I to battle the will of the sea.

    1. Jessica, I loved your story. It was so interesting to watch it unfold. I found myself actually smiling as I got to the end. It has such a cohesive voice, I could really picture the narrator.

  5. As I read through this it is driving me crazy that I wrote exposition when I meant to write expedition, and I can't edit.

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  7. I'm late to this party, but Jessica, I loved your story! I think my favorite part about this exercise is how different our voices are. I love that these words can all reflect one picture. Also, Jessica did you picture the 19th century for your setting while writing this? My setting was in that time in my head--I didn't convey it as well as I had hoped--but in my brain it was! I will attempt the next one, but it may take me a while!