This week it's Tasha Yar's turn in the ring. Here is her 498 word submission.
The unwanted solitude came to a resounding end when she barged into his coffee shop, wild-eyed and out of breath. Most people who walked into his store were either sleep-deprived or hung over, looking for that caffeine jolt to start their day. She looked like neither, more like a prisoner on the run. That’s if prisoner garb consisted of a low-cut black T-shirt and a flowery flippy skirt.
Frank wiped his hands on his apron. “Can I help you, miss?”
Two of the bluest eyes he'd ever seen looked his way. Ah, to be thirty years younger and fifty pounds lighter. Captured in her gaze, he felt a stirring in his head and his heart nearly stopped.
“Do you have a back way out of here?”
He could swear her lips didn't move, yet he heard a woman’s voice. “Did you say--?”
“Back way? Do you have one?” This time her lips clearly moved and she gestured for him to hurry up.
Okay, he must have imagined it. “Afraid not. Do you need help? Should I call the cops?”
“No!” The young woman gritted her teeth then sprinted around the counter, hunched low out of sight of the door. Her breasts nearly fell out of that tight little shirt and caused him to pause. Before he had a chance to protest, she hissed at him, “If you value your life, you didn't see me.”
Fifty-four and twice divorced, his life wasn't perfect, but he wasn't willing to end it quite so soon, either. She held no weapon on him, so he'd play her game. What else was there to do? It wasn't like the customers were knocking down his door to get inside.
Two men came into the shop and Frank’s jaw dropped. Was she afraid of these two jokers? They appeared to have stepped out of some period clothing store, wearing red and white plaid jackets he would have considered ugly in the decade they came from.
The taller of the two, which wasn't saying much as both were shorter than Frank’s 5’10” stature, had blond hair that would make a Marine proud. Mr. Buzz-Cut shoved his sunglasses to the top of his head and looked around the empty room.
“What can I get you gentlemen?”
Buzz’s partner, a man who clearly had an acne problem during his teen years, scowled at Frank. “We're looking for someone.”
“Aren't we all?” Frank waved his arm toward the empty room. “Don't trip over the customers in your search.”
"Very funny." Acne-man pulled a photo from the inside pocket of his blazer and slid it across the counter. "Have you seen her this morning?"
The picture resembled the woman crouched down at his feet. "Now, why should I tell you? Is she a fugitive? Because you two jokers don't look like cops."
In a flash, Buzz reached out and grabbed Frank's shirt at the neck, making small ripping sounds. Frank struggled to catch his breath. Who moved that fast?
And in the other corner, checking in with 323 words, is Lynette Railey.
The setting sun bathes the deck in an unnatural light. The men are restless. They have been too long from land, too long from home and it weighs heavily upon their spirits. This night will be a rough one with choppy seas and razor sharp tongues. My hand is firm upon the railing and my body sways in rhythm to the waves. Eyes peer into the fading light as if to see land just beyond the portal. I will get no rest this night.
Voices waft up from below; a harsh word muttered here and there as the men settle down in cramp quarters which reek of sweat and dirt from many days at sea with only each other and the moonlight for company. My body begs for rest but my mind races. Crowded with the what-ifs and what-could-have-been of another life time. Too late to change things. The sea is my master and I follow wherever it leads me.
I struggle to stay awake. Many depend on me to lead them through the rocky maze which lies before us. But I am confident. I know this path well, having traveled it many times. Truth be told, I could steer this ship through these waters with my eyes closed. Every rock and shell is as familiar to me as the stars in the northern sky.
The maze is done and once again we are on the open sea. A solitary moon looms before me, the only other thing awake at this time of night. Midnight hour. Witching hour. A time when the portal opens between the here and now to stretch into the outer world. My heart races as if mere wishing could make these sails quicken the journey. At last we are homeward bound and another moon will not rise before we are once again in the arms of our loved ones. All that stands between them and me is the moon.*********************************************************
What do you think? Which one resonates with you the most? Why? Leave your vote (and a brief critique if you have time) in the comments below.
See you back here at the ring again next week!