Friday, 25 June 2010

The Siren

This is my first #Fridayflash. I've barely written any short stories, so I don't have much practice. (I know, I'm searching for excuses to justify any dreadful work I post, but this is scary.) 

The shrill of the siren came back to her. The sound was so engraved in her memory that it still triggered the dreaded shivers of anxiety down her spine as she woke up each morning. She heard it for the last time a year ago and it meant the end of one life and the beginning of the next. But today, a whole year later, she would go back to the comforts of her old life. She would have to bid farewell to the excitement and adventures she’d been living, but she’d had more than enough, she couldn’t take any more of this lifestyle.

            It had taken her a month to adjust to her new surroundings. She’d felt completely lost and frightened at first. She even doubted she’d survive in this foreign world, but her inner instincts had pushed her to fight for what she needed and she found energy and will where she thought there was none.

            The hardest part was the loneliness she felt. The inherent need to talk to someone and share her fears and sorrows or even her jokes on her good days wouldn’t fade with time. She’d always felt silly speaking to herself, but as the days went past, she’d realized it was the only way of channelling her feelings. Listening to her own voice as she recited her thoughts helped her distance herself from her problems and make a reasonable decision, despite the lack of objectivity.

            Now, as she felt the cool water cascade on her back, the tension released from every muscle and she let hope warm up her insides. She looked back at these past months with pride.

            What had she learnt from this past year? She’d learnt to appreciate the small pleasures that fill our lives and make it worthwhile. Those everyday treats we ignore when they’re within our reach but we miss once they’re not available. She missed the smell of her favourite detergent, the creaminess of chocolate mousse, the softness of her TV rug, the warmth of a pullover she’d had since she was a teenager, the squishiness of her childhood pillow, the sight of people bustling in her hometown fair, sitting at her local pub talking to her friends, the crunchiness of homemade cookies as they come out of the oven... But most of all, she’d learnt to value friendship and family in a way she’d never thought of before. Not being able to phone her best friend at any time of the day or cry on her shoulder when she was at her wits limits had made her realize how you take all these things for granted.

            Would she miss anything from this last year? She would miss her freedom and independence. She rejoiced in the way she didn't have to give any explanations to anyone about what she did. She would miss the lack of routines and timetables, as well as the activities she’d mastered, like lighting a fire, barbequing, fishing, picking fresh fruit from the trees, watching the stars in complete darkness and quiet...  

            Her mind went back to the first day of her new life. It had begun with a sunny morning announcing the perfect weather for a special outing. The only items in her bag were a book, sun cream, sunglasses, a towel, her iPod and a bottle of water. Her feet touched the fine sand which tickled all the nerves on her soles. She walked away to a hidden cove and lay down to read her book and listening to the music, but the heat was overpowering and the sound of the waves lulled her into sleep, the book fell out of hand and landed gently on the sand.

            She woke up startled by the loud siren. It took a few moments for her to remember where she was. The sun was nearly hidden behind the horizon and the light was pale and soft, the waves now stroked her towel. She stood up in a rush and clumsily picked all her things as fast as she could. As she raced back she heard the siren again, but this time the sound came from the opposite direction and she was completely disoriented. After running through the tall vegetation for a few minutes she stopped to catch her breath and terror run through her as she realized she was lost. She made up her mind and followed her instincts until she reached the beach where all she could see were footsteps leading in all directions, but most of all, a marked trail heading towards the shore where the boat should have been.
            Again, the siren in the distance teased her, and as she raised her sight, she saw the large ship sailing into the horizon, ready to reach civilization in a few days. Shock brought back the words of the girl at the agency, "The Secret Cruise is a luxury trip to a secret desert island. No-one knows where the island is and it’s only visited once a year.”

            She’d counted the days and an exact year had gone by. Today, The Secret Cruise would come back and she would make sure she didn’t miss it. 365 days after, she would go back to civilization.


  1. I really enjoyed your story, Sarah. It was beautifully done. Where do you get your energy from? I want some.

    Liz X

  2. Hi Sarah!

    I said earlier I found the story a little chilling, and I really think it was! I wondered why she decided to do this luxury trip in the first place, what drove her to it. And what did the people on the boat think when she didn't turn up for her appointed return to civilisation...and then to be left there again. Imagine the sense of loss.

    It has raised so many questions in my mind, I really want to know her back story!


  3. Desert island. Sand. When can I go?

    Like Ciara I'd love to know the back story, but flash doesn't really lend itself to that format. Nicely captured scenario though.

  4. That was good! The imagery was so pretty and sensual. It really made me feel as if I was on a beach somewhere...

  5. Ha, stranded on a desert island. What a fun fantasy to play around with. Looks like she managed ok, just hope she doesn't miss the boat this time around. And I hope she liked coconuts! ;)

    Welcome to #fridayflash.

  6. Sarah,

    No apologies, that was an excellent tale and got your reader right into the mind and emotion of your character. Great scene development and solid voice. Glad you took the #ff leap, welcome to the fold!

  7. What a scary concept. A whole year of fending for yourself, avoiding dangerous animals and sickness and all the things we don't usually worry about. Next time I'm on a cruise, I might just stay on the boat the whole time.

  8. Wow, thanks everyone, are you always as nice with the first #Fridayflash? Thank you very much for your nice comments.

  9. Really enjoyed this, Sarah! And you said you don't know what you're doing when it comes to short stories, pff!

    I love the bit where she thinks about life's small pleasures. So emotive.

    Great stuff! :)

  10. I'm Googling The Secret Cruise now to check on rates and availability...

    Welcome to #fridayflash. This was a delightful story. Well done. See you next week? :)

  11. Welcome to #fridayflash - we're a lovely bunch, really! Very well captured sense of independence, tinged with loneliness. Can't help thinking she'd be better off staying put though!

  12. yikes, what a nightmare. I hope they let her on the boat.

    Great storytelling.

    Welcome to #FridayFlash!

  13. This was an amazing first effort. An intriguing concept, and I liked that you took the time to consider the pros and cons of the situation. Your character found a trip of self-discovery.

    For all of us with hectic lives, thanks for letting us indulge in the fantasy. Welcome to #fridays. Hope you hang around.

  14. Thanks Tallie, Gracie, Icy, Tomara and pegjet. You're all really kind. This is good fun, and it's such fun reading everyone else's too.

  15. Wish I'd known about this before. I'll try one myself next Friday, if i get time. (Gulp.)

    The first para is great, really sucks you in, builds that strange haunting atmosphere. I would probably have gone for some minor action in the second and third paras, or dialogue to self, as it suddenly slows there and goes into internal monologue.

    But that's just my taste in stories. Always after a bit of adventure. Really, I loved it!

  16. Thanks Jane, I'll remember your comments for the next one. I've always got to remind myself about using more dialogue.
    And I'll be looking forward to read yours this week.

  17. That's terrific Sarah, I really enjoyed that! I loved the description of what she had missed over the course of the year, and you kept me guessing about what was actually happening. I got a little shiver as I realised she was marooned for the year. Well done!

  18. Thanks Jane, that's very encouraging coming from you, queen of the #FridayFlash this week.

  19. I love this! Particularly the paragraph which talks about all of the things that she has missed. That really made me smile.


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