Last Day on the Beach (Friday Fictioneers, January 2013)

This week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt for our 100 word stories came from Renee Homan Heath.  For me, this picture had the look of late summer.

The weather was changing, the sun already less fierce, mellowing into autumn.

Fewer families on the beach, but the usual backdrop of noise, laughter, gulls keening, and the thwack of tiny spades against even tinier sandcastles.

Then, something else… a murmur of alarm, rising in volume.

People were running from the water, scooping up kids on the way.

One lone woman jostling through them towards the waves, screaming.

Our ice creams abandoned to melt in the sand, we gathered our belongings and shepherded our kids from the beach.

Behind us a fin circled lazily in a spreading tide of crimson.



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About Sandra

I cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and write fiction and poetry. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in Friday Fictioneers, Just Sayin' and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

92 Responses to Last Day on the Beach (Friday Fictioneers, January 2013)

  1. sue Cottrill says:

    Another good one, you always take me in Sandra. Someones day was spoiled!!

    Like

  2. muZer says:

    Oh! boy! Last day indeed.. So sad it had to end like this for her! Great story.

    Like

  3. nightlake says:

    that’s really so sad..a very well written piece, Sandra

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  4. Dear Sandra,
    I can’t say enough good things about this piece. You took me from enjoying the restful sights and sounds to urgent terror in one fell swoop. Brilliant!
    Shalom,
    Rochelle

    Like

  5. zennjennc says:

    Duuun dun duuun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun BOM BOM dun dun dun dun dun dun doo dedoo doo dedoo dede doo dede doo dededoo (Jaws Theme in Text Form)

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  6. Your understated yet beautiful telling makes the terror even more real. I always look forward to reading your stories.

    janet

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  7. The theme from Jaws is playing in my head! Good piece with or without the soundtrack. 😉

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  8. rich says:

    we were both thinking sharks but with different “types” of shark. well done. one poor kid didn’t make it back. the little kintner boy.(from “jaws”)

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  9. sharks and jellyfish. Two good reasons I prefer lake swimming to oceans. I love the tone of the story. You do a great job of winding up the terror. There are so many dark and macabre stories this week. It makes for a very happy misanthropic muse 🙂

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  10. The crimson tide is so descriptive.

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  11. “Jaws Theme Swimming”. Frightening to imagine this.
    Passive voice has its place, but I think the “People were running…” line could be strengthened by changing it to active voice. Aside from that, this is a solid work. Thanks for the read 🙂

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I won’t pretend that I even stopped to think about the use of the passive voice here – I’m an instinctive writer. In retrospective analysis though, I think I was trying to create a detached dream-like observation of the developments, almost like a wave building up, crashing and then ebbing (in the ‘abandoned ice creams’ and ‘ lazy circling’ of the last line). Having determined that was where I was subliminally going with this, I see one line which definitely needs changing. The ‘crash’ should be ‘one lone woman jostled (not jostling) through them towards the waves, screaming.’ And it should probably be strengthened at that point but for the word-count limitation.
      Thank you for commenting, and giving me the opportunity to reflect on the piece. 😉

      Like

  12. elappleby says:

    Aaarrrggghhh! Shark!! Brilliant change of tempo half way through. Loved this 😀

    Like

  13. tedstrutz says:

    Damn, Sandra… you didn’t screw around with this one! Our ice creams abandoned to melt in the sand… nice.

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  14. Wow, that turned sinister fast. You caught me off guard at the end; I was thinking tsunami. 🙂

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  15. Joyce says:

    Good story telling. The photo prompt had the making for a few ‘Jaws’ stories.

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  16. Parul says:

    Sandra, you are an amazing writer. And you just prove it everytime I come here.
    This played out like an excellent movie scene. Very well done!

    Like

  17. kz says:

    just as i felt myself relaxing…. the horror! very well-written piece

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  18. I was thinking tsunami – still seems so terrifying. Excellent. You drew me in.

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  19. claireful says:

    You somehow managed to set up such a threatening atmosphere. Lovely, terrifying, writing.

    Like

  20. Hey Sandra, tell what happened to the lone woman? I wanna know

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  21. unspywriter says:

    Very nicely done. The calm before the storm well done, and the rendition of the “villain” as so matter of fact adds to the horror of the moment. Excellent work.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/and-when-we-go-back-to-the-sea/

    Like

  22. Such a great sense of place and season, and than BAM! You are a true artist, Sandra 🙂

    Like

  23. Erinleary says:

    I just knew your day at the beach would have an edge….nice twist in the sunny road.

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  24. rheath40 says:

    I don’t fear much, but sharks. The movie, Jaws still gives me nightmares. This story gave me the chills. And made me fear the ocean yet again.

    Like

  25. I’ll say “fewer families on the beach,” but that’s not the way to accomplish it! Nice hearkening back to a communal experience we all shared.

    Like

  26. Joe Owens says:

    Gotta be a happy day for the “finned one”. The drama at the end came out of nowhere. nice way to shock the reader!

    Like

  27. Tom Poet says:

    Sandra,
    Every summer this is my greatest fear when I go kayaking or swimming in the ocean ..which I do a lot…The fear kinda of adds to the fun. Jaws came to mind but I thought for sure you were doing Tsunami in the beginning…nice job baiting the reader.
    Tom

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Yes I’m not keen on swimming in the sea either, but then I did spend many years working for a water treatment company. 😦 Yes, I didn’t realise that it seems to herald a tsunami occurrence until much later.

      Like

  28. Hi Sandra,
    Good dramatic bulldup. You had me hooked and I was guessing tsunami, but you had another thought. You and Rich presented very different stories with the same dark side. Ron

    Like

  29. Sheila says:

    I love the descriptions, especially this line, “the thwack of tiny spades against even tinier sandcastles.” My first thought was about a possible shark too. Funny how we’d look at such an idyllic scene and come up with nightmare scenarios! 🙂

    Like

  30. elmowrites says:

    Eery and dramatic, Sandra. I like the distance you manage to give the narrator as she protects her own children from the horror of witnessing the death. I hesitated over “lazily” – it seems the weakest word in the peace, but on the other hand I like how you restore a menacing calm with it. Maybe there’s a stronger word which could achieve the same end?

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thanks for commenting Jennifer. Yes, I had a difficulty with ‘lazily’ but see response to ‘fictionsoflife’ above for my motivation. I toyed with adjectives deriving from words like ‘idle’ and ‘menacing’ but they become clumsy in that form. I thought about ‘complacently’ but that seemed a bit like a POV change. So, no nearer, apart perhaps from ‘indolently’ …. No perhaps not. Thanks for mentioning your reservations, appreciate it.

      Like

  31. Oh man. I like that you turned the water crimson to show that someone didn’t make it. Cleaver.

    Like

  32. billgncs says:

    Hi Sandra — I always read yours cautiously, there’s always that “bite” at the end.

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  33. Sandra says:

    🙂 🙂 Thank you Bill.

    Like

  34. Judee says:

    I should have known that with you, it wouldn’t be just a scare. 😉 Apt title and great last line.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I think I’m becoming predictable Judee. 😉 Thanks for commenting, hope you’re well.

      Like

      • Judee says:

        Not too predictable, you still surprise me. You’re only predictable in the sense that your writing will always be interesting to read, and a fresh approach even when the twist is expected. Your twists are unique, and that’s what makes them so fun to read!

        Like

        • Sandra says:

          I know what you mean. I often say to my husband “did the ending come as a surprise?” and he says “No, but only because I know your writing.” 🙂

          Like

          • Judee says:

            Yeah, it’s kind of like, I’m not surprised to be surprised by your writing, and yet the ending is always unique, and surprising in the way you do it and manage something that still surprises in its own way, even when looking for it. Lol, I hope that made sense, I haven’t had my coffee yet.

            Like

  35. rgayer55 says:

    All that was lacking was tension-inspiring background music in A minor – chomp, chomp.

    Like

  36. sandraconner says:

    Very well done, Sandra. Delightful and pleasant turned to gripping at just the right moment.

    Like

  37. Jaws ruined the ocean for me for a long time when I was a kid. Great story!

    Like

  38. Anne Orchard says:

    Pretty scary being on the beach with your kids in the water, even without sharks! Had my heart thumping.

    Like

  39. edge of my seat anxious. the tension in this is great.

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  40. deanabo says:

    How frightening that would be. You did a terrific job capturing the emotions!

    Like

  41. I see I’m not the only one who thought of JAWS looking at this prompt. Great job.

    Like

  42. vbholmes says:

    If not the lone woman, who or what produced the “spreading tide of crimson”? Successful transition from peaceful beach scene to fear-filled flight in 100 words.

    Like

  43. Sarah Ann says:

    I think I’m going to have to start reading your stories from end to beginning. I settle into a way of thinking only to have it turned upside down. Drew me in and left me spluttering.

    Like

  44. yerpirate says:

    Beautiful flow of the writer setting the scene and slowly the story turns; fear sets in. The shark is not even mentioned by anyone at the scene – doesn’t need to be – masterful.

    Like

  45. Sunshine says:

    …behind us a fin…that gives me the chills and reminds me to tread carefully when going into the ocean. ❤

    Like

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