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They Survived (24 Hour Short Story Contest entry)

Story ID:8178
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:Caldwell ID USA
Year:2012
Person:Sarah
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This weekend was the 24-Hour Short Story contest.
They sent this topic and word count requirements
yesterday. I had 24 hours to submit my entry.

Here is the topic. Below that is my entry

TODAY'S TOPIC!

~~~~~

Growing up on a fishing boat docked in this small northwest
coastal town brought stares from townspeople and jeers from
classmates. She desperately wanted to escape but, with
competitors driving down charter prices, she knew her dad
would never be able to afford a replacement. As she sliced
open the belly of yet another Salmon, her eyes widened and
she dropped her knife...

~~~~~

WORD COUNT: Stories for today's topic must not exceed 900
words.


My entry

They Survived

She grew up on a fishing boat south of Seattle. Her father, unable to make enough money
to buy a home, raised her within the confines of the small vessel he’d owned since his wife died
when Sarah was four.

She lived on the decrepit boat; the smell of fish was her scented candles. She knew no
other life. Sarah endured the stares of townspeople and jeers from classmates. She desperately
wanted to escape but, with competitors driving down charter prices, she knew her dad would
never be able to afford a replacement.

Salmon blood stained her fingers. Fish scales, stuck to her arms. They shimmered
iridescent green and blue. The reflected sun sparkled off the small waves in the harbor – a
thousand diamonds. Seagulls circled and screamed at the scent of fresh food. She sliced open the
belly of yet another Salmon, her eyes widened. Two boats pulled up to the fish plant – a circle of
blazing black-and-white feathers followed them.

Beyond the returning boats, Sarah saw a storm on the horizon. She dropped her knife. It
lodged into the planks of the deck between her feet, vibrated and went still. The boat began to
rock as waves grew.

Sarah watched the mountain of clouds approach from the south. The undersides black
with rage: the tops white with reflected sun. She held the rails to steady herself and rushed below
deck. “Dad! Dad, wake up.!”

“What?” her father mumbled, shaking off the alcohol.

“Dad, there’s a big storm coming. We need to get out of here.”

“Whatever!”

She grabbed his shoulders and shook him. His head bounced off the headboard of his
bunk. He cursed, “What the hell are you doing?”

“Dad, we have to get off the boat.
There’s a major storm coming.”

Sarah convinced him. Her father staggered to deck, saw the clouds and fired up the
engines.

“Dad! Dad, what are you doing?

“Sarah, if we stay here, this old boat will be kindling – crushed against the wharf or
shore. We need to go out to sea. We can ride the waves and survive.”

Their small boat headed into the storm. A mile from shore, the waves splashed over the
bow. Sarah clung to her father, as he screamed, “I’ll beat you!”

Above them, black clouds churned. In front of them, dark waves, crested with white
foam, toppled over them. Sarah screamed as the waves made her loose her footing on the slick
deck. Her father, one hand on the wheel, reached back and steadied his daughter, before she
could tumble over the side and into the angry waters.

Hours passed. The dark day turned into a darker night.

They held each other for comfort, but the seasoned fisherman needed no help. He’d
fought many battles; he took control.

The wind dimmed; the waves subsided; and the sky brightened. Sarah hugged her
father, “You did it, dad.”

They sailed back into the harbor and saw destruction. The wharf was gone. The boats
that were tied to it sat on the land, their hulls damaged by the rocks they were forced over.

Sarah smiled. Her father’s boat was the only one to survive the storm. They were
the only ones left.

She hugged her father, “You did it, dad! You’re a hero!”

“I’m not a hero, Sarah.” He held her by her arms, “I’m a drunken bum! If not for you,
our boat would be on the shore with the rest of them.” He stared at the wreckage on shore. “You
saved us.”

“Dad!” Her tears washed the salt spray from her cheeks. “We did it together.”

They were the last boat remaining. Charters picked up. Sarah and her father were the
only business in town. They prospered and soon had a real home and a new boat. Life for them
was better. They survived.

Michael T. Smith