Sep 20, 2009 by

Fourth Fiction Challenge 5Round 5 Challenge: Incorporate this image into your next passage of no more than 500 words. You can interpret this challenge as you see fit.

*click on the thumbnail to see a larger image

Other vessels were also steaming inshore, their work day at a close. Ron looked out upon the shore, which came into relief in the sun’s mellow last rays. It was just after low tide and the coastline was layered in color.  Where the water met the shore was the red seaweed and then the brown seaweed. Above that was the dark green seaweed and then the black wet rock and the dry gray rock, which went up until the evergreen trees began and merged into forest. After the forest there was only sky.

At low tide on full and new moons, the brilliant jade seaweed was visible just above the surface. At high tides there would only be a sliver of the black wet rock along the coast and the rest would be gray rock and forest and sky. The coast was uneven and jagged and in places rose from the water as cliffs and it was wild and very beautiful. To live there and breathe of that air also made one uneven and jagged and if alongside these there was integrity and nobleness of heart, then beautiful too.

Ron shook his head as he steamed into the harbor. It was rare for lyrical moods to overtake him like that, but when they did, he was as much a sucker for them as anyone else.

He left the slop bucket on the porch, dropped his duffle bag inside the front door and went to the freezer. He filled a tumbler with ice and poured himself a rum and coke. He stood for a while by the bay windows, holding the drink, staring out at the distant water through his reflected image. He ran his fingers through his beard. He grew one out after Lev killed their father and hadn’t been clean shaven since. No particular reason. That’s just how it played out. Some things were constants in Ron’s life: the sea, the rum, and his beard.

“What do you say, Ron?” he murmured. “Time to unbury the past or what?” He took a drink and then went upstairs to the bathroom. After clipping his beard off, he took a shower and then shaved off the remaining growth.

Ron stared at the unfamiliar face that gazed at him in the mirror. He looked two decades younger. He wasn’t sure just what to make of it. He ran his hand over his face, feeling strangely exposed, even violated. He gave a scornful laugh and looked away. The damnedest things were going through his head lately.

He went downstairs and poured another drink. He stood briefly at the window again. Then he went to the computer. He knew exactly what he was going to write. He’d written and rewritten the message out in his head all afternoon. And he would have sent it, too, had Olga not already beaten him to it.

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  1. Get to it already Ron! 😉
    Nicely played though… I feel that my curiosity won’t let me vote you off just yet.

  2. seldom seen

    technically, red seaweed is dead seaweed. this is found at the high water mark, washed up on the shore. dark green seaweed is very much alive. this is found at, and below, the high water mark.
    olaf researches like, oh i don’t know…whoevers been voted off.

  3. This was an awesome take on the photo image – of the MC becoming the man in the photo.

    Last year one of my characters had a melt down, got hideously drunk on rum, shaved off his beard and his beautiful hair, shed his clothes and continued to drink naked in the crows nest – getting himself mortally unburnt in the process. I’m glad to see Ron’s holding it together a bit better than Captain Juan did.

    I don’t know the intricacies of seaweed- but I enjoyed reading it. And always looking for what may (or may not!) lie behind the descriptions.

    Keep with the lyrical stuff Olaf – I for one believe it suits your story better and will allow you to use the pared back stuff for effect later on … because you will be sticking around (well if I have anything to do with it.)

  4. tetra

    you bore me. i try to vote you off every week; cant wait for when your time comes. still, good ending. but how many times will this guy look around, do nothing, reflect and think of sending an email? i feel like you are doing the same old thing every week. and like an old fish its beginning to smell

  5. Olaf, I like your writing; you herald from the age of Ahab and Marlow…. but computers and facebook are completely offbase from the portrait you’re painting in your last few posts. i’d cinch that sail by naming a ship ‘facebook’ and put Olga aboard it

  6. I guess Seldom Seen’s name applies to the coast of Maine and the Bay of Fundy where the seaweed on the lowest parts of the rocks does in fact look red. But it’s possible I could have been wrong for he past 35 years of living on the coast.
    I’m so friggin sick of people with made up names picking on the contestants. OK you don’t like him we friggin get it.
    Olof, I like your writing style but would like to see the pace picked up a touch. You won’t be getting my vote this week.

  7. Christ, there’s been more action here for the last two days than there’s been off Platts Bank.

    annasbones: Good things take time.

    seldom seen: The fact you know what a water mark is tells me you know something about the sea, which is surprising considering you don’t know anything about seaweed. I don’t know if you’ve ever been up around the Gulf of Maine Coast, but if you ever do, look at the shore at low tide next time you’re out. Not all seaweed is green. But you’re right. I don’t research. I work. With my eyes open.

    Jodi: Good on you. I know a couple of guys down here who sound like that fellow you wrote about. Except unlike Captain Juan, they don’t have beautiful hair.

    tetra: Sucks to be you.

    Tony: Amen to that. The round 2 challenge was to write about computers so my plans got shipwrecked from the beginning.

  8. I like the slow burn on this. It makes sense considering the character and what we know of him. More story would make sense next week, but the transformation here is significant and deserves the time spent on it.

  9. Olaf, this is just lovely. Feel free to take as much time as you like (c:

  10. Good to have a Mainer step in about the seaweed. Seldom seen may really live up to his name after Chris’s comment.

    Glad the slow burn works for some of you. I’m more crock pot than microwave. But I reckon it’s time to put the heat to it. If anything, to be done with that damn computer.

  11. Auggie

    surprisig use of the challenge–making the pic your character. that part is no longer up to the reader’s imagination. i understand he commenter’s urging you on to some action. i also understand that the ocean and fishing requires a lot of patience, a lot of introspection. the voters will expect something big next round.

  12. seldom seen

    the straight facts are these:
    1. seaweed between the high and low water marks is brown.
    2. seaweed above the high water mark is red.
    3. seaweed below the low water mark (IN THE WATER) is green.
    so, chris, i’m guessing that 35 years clearly wasn’t enough time to figure this out.
    as far as not liking someone…who cares? if you’re loosing sleep because i’m commenting in a manner that you wouldn’t, or couldn’t, thats on you.
    as a matter of fact i am enjoying Olaf’s stuff here. not as much as Utah’s, but i like it. I’m personally big on attention to detail, thats all.
    try this…count backwards from 10 and have one of Olaf’s drinks.

    • I don’t care if you like him or not. That was my point. I took your comment as a cheap shot given from a user with a fake name. Clearly that wasn’t your actual intent and I misunderstood the tone of your comment. I’m big enough to admit I was wrong so will apologize for the tone of my comment.

      We’re going to have to keep disagreeing on the seaweed though. In the gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy there is living seaweed that appears red. Not to be confused with with the rare red seaweed of the Pacific Ocean. It could be it is a result of fresh air making contact with it for 6 hours between low and high tides. All I can tell you is I have personally seen red looking seaweed that isn’t dead and is under water at high tides.

  13. seldom seen

    that’s it, i can’t take it anymore. i give up and beg forgiveness. i just can’t keep up with you “blasting” me so unmercifully …
    i’ll go run to mama while you try to remember that its JUST SEAWEED.
    take it easy killer.

  14. I know it’s a hot front page topic but how about we drop the seaweed discussion? I’m getting red in the face and green about the gills just reading all this…

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