It’s simple: they send you a picture, you write a story about that picture in 1000 words or less. I love a good challenge, so I accepted. It’s what they call the Penprints Flash Fiction Dash.
Lucky you, my story came out to less than 500 words. Here’s the picture they sent me and here’s the story.
Despite everything, I do have to admit she is beautiful. Even from behind and seated, with none of her curves showing off, her sunflower hair still rolls and tumbles like wheat in the wind. Her dress is sleeveless and practical, but long like a bridal gown, white in the setting sun, eggshell in the shadow.
Between us, her splotchy brown-and-white beagle yawns. He glances at me, then lays his chin on the canoe’s edge. He’s her dog, but always likes to make sure I’m close.
Her thin arms move the oar from one side of the canoe to the other. We rock on a river slicing through hills too overgrown with evergreens to shore up for the evening. It’s a good thing she seems to know where she’s going because I don’t recognize this place at all.
As if reading my thoughts, she peeks over her sun-dappled shoulder and smiles at me. “Don’t worry, there’s an inlet just around this bend. We can sleep under the stars.”
Romantic, if uncomfortable.
“I have a good feeling about this,” she chirps. “You, me, and doggie makes three.” She scratches the beagle’s neck, turning his tail into a propeller.
Then she lays her oar across her lap and lets us drift as she turns towards me, a glimmering apology in her sepia eyes. “I know this is a little extreme, and I know you’re nervous, but I really do think we can make it work. If it helps, I have butterflies, too. But I believe in us. Whatever we come across, we can face it together.”
She gets back to paddling. “A new life together. Don’t you feel freer already? Can’t you imagine the possibilities?”
Ever the optimist. Despite all the fights, she still believes in us. She believed from the very start, though I couldn’t see us working.
It’s funny, though. With her tresses waving, the sun kissing her bare shoulders, and the docile lapping against the canoe, I can almost agree with her. It’s like the final scene of a movie or a novel, our heroes floating down the river, away from their past lives and on towards an uncertain future.
In the twilit wild, I wonder if she’s right about everything. I could certainly do far worse than her. She is brave, loyal, and adventurous. I have misgivings about her latest plot, but I am a romantic at heart, and the mystique tickles my nerves like ice cubes in my stomach. It’s almost exciting. And a part of me does want to know what’s around that river bend, beyond the pine needles and underbrush.
But I’m not thinking clearly. Once the chloroform wears off, I’m sure I’ll feel different.
The beagle eyes me again.
Yes, dog, I’m still here. And until I find a way to undo these binds, here I’ll remain.