The thirst did not subside after three days the way the hunger had, but each brutally cold night left a gift in the darkest hours:  Frost.  Without that, without the shivering, he would be dead by now, and he recognized each fallen leaf around him as another gift from God.

He had lifted hundreds, one by one, judging concavity and placing them to cup the frost melt. Had tried to expand his circle of cups beyond the six foot ovoid he could reach, but the pain stopped him. Broken hip or broken pelvis, maybe both,  and the opposite ankle. He had dragged himself to the tree, instinctively, when he was still in shock, but there his injuries had swollen and set to the point where simply leaning to extend his reach caused agony that he could not endure with his eyes open. He’d adopted bracing himself and closing them before he reached. Forced, but not forced suddenly.

From the tree he could see the ledge, and judged that he had fallen about twelve feet, landing on roots with one leg under his ass. Pretty much a free fall, facilitated by his friends the wet leaves, but his own fault. All caught up in the argument, the arguments. The resentments and lies and regrets and ugly memories that functioned as an unkillable organism. In a fog on a dangerous trail. Jesus.

What the hell Lulu might be doing at the moment was something he pondered several times per hour. He tried to assume she had reported him missing.  The phone was on the counter for Christ’s sake. His phone. Could she possibly still think they were in a tactical game?

No phone, and there had been no note. He hadn’t even been pissed off, he’d just wanted away.  Drove a half hour, then wheeled onto a tractor path and parked tight between a row of maples and a field of eight foot high corn. A hundred yards off the road.  Away off the road, he thought to himself, feeling hollow headed from thirst.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Simpler language aids drama. “Concavity”, “facilitated”, “unkillable organism”, “ovoid” – consider everyday alternatives. Big vocabulary doesn’t necessarily win the day.

    “He had dragged…” sentence 43 words long. Before you arrived on the scene I wrote a story for Joe (one of my links) that was 150 words end to end. Didn’t post it. I’ll tack it on here. Not great but restriction forces ingenuity.

    Best para: the fourth, more rat-a-tat.

    Last para reveals narrative problem. With only one person (thus no dialogue) you’re forced to end up with historical summary. What has changed between story’s first line and last line? Not sure there’s a recognisable conclusion. One possibility: “He groaned. Even groaning was painful. Funny really; Lulu had always said bikes were dangerous.”

    At least I’m assuming he was driving a car. You don’t park a bike. Or drive it.


    148-word story; not to be taken seriously; more of an exercise. The conclusion for a Brit would be that the guy was a Tory (ie, Republican, well sort of). Glossary: dais = podium, ragtops = popular daily tabloid newspapers, L-words = words containing L are often pleasant to say and hear, unions = trade unions, Mirror = the Daily Mirror, left-leaning tabloid newspaper.

    Walking to the dais he did the routine. Brushed the zip with the edge of his hand not the front. Less obvious. No man should fiddle down there; the photographers waiting. Imagine the ragtops’ headlines.

    Changing from horn-rims to rimless spectacles dated back years. They’d caught him leaning forward once and the black upper part of the frame had obscured his eyes, making his face sinister. Doctor Death, they’d called him.

    A plain cylindrical glass held his drinking water because a cut-glass tumbler might imply gin and tonic.

    Fact was he enjoyed public speaking and the party encouraged him. But one needed to get the details right.

    A friendly start, then. Lots of L-words.

    But something was wrong. An obstruction in his mouth. Across his incisors. The dessert had been plum crumble. Dark plum skin blotted out his front teeth.

    “Lost ‘em fighting the unions,” the Mirror said.


    This’ll be the last of these long, long comments. I’ll limit myself to half a dozen lines in future


    • Thanks Rob. I’ll review these suggestions later, after work. I hope it was clear that this was an excercise too Began with a notion of helicopter rescue (hence) title no conclusion in mind. It was to be a truck, though, and brown, to make it more invisible. I have a long history as an impatient poster, often editing after posting. Of course this does me no good with readers who are auto-fed the original in email. Spares them my post post scrambling though. Great little exercise. Had I written it I’d have posted it, it would be my best, and I’d retire from writing. Thanks again!


    • The word count comparison is shocking. I think you should become famous.


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