Well, here it is. The moment I”m sure you’ve all been waiting for.
The initial draft of my #WriterInMotion project, written solely based upon a single prompt picture.
1,032 words, raw and unedited. I had to close the Google Doc as soon as I had it done so I wouldn’t feel the need to go bad and reread/edit any of it.
Still no title. Still no character names. That will be what this coming week is for…
If she tried hard enough, she could see the illumination of city in the distance, glimmering on the desert’s horizon.
But she wasn’t trying hard enough.
She wasn’t trying at all.
Just as she knew they weren’t trying to find her.
No one survives the night in the desert, they snarled as she ran.
She’ll be dead by morning, they jeered.
But still she ran.
She ran away from the man she thought she loved, and the man who loved her in return.
She left behind the riches and the glamour and the easy lifestyle for the searing heat and the unforgivable landscape and the impossibility that somewhere out there she’d be free from the persecution threatened upon her.
Out here, she could worship the stars and kiss the breeze that swept through the desert at night. When the sun set and the sands cooled, only then did she emerge from the life-saving vessel that allowed her the freedoms she so desperately desired.
She had read about it once, during a lesson in the palace’s stuffy library that might as well have been as hot as the desert. As she tried to concentrate through the heat and humidity, she read about the desert, its flora and fauna, and the belief that it had once been a vast ocean, long since dried due to years of drought and famine before the great King came into power.
Propaganda, for certain, but she always wondered what lay beyond the palaces walls the city guard refused to open.
“We’ll leave one day,” he told her, as they lay together on her cache of pillows, the silk cool against their heated flesh. “Together, we’ll jump over those walls and see exactly what the desert has to offer.”
When she jumped, however, he wasn’t next to her.
He wasn’t anywhere near her.
They took him away from her, ignoring her pleas of his innocence.
Tears stung her eyes as she stared up at the night sky, the memories again becoming too much for her emotions to remain in check. The old metal of the abandoned boat, pressed against her back, remained warm after a day in the blazing sun, but it was appreciated as the evening cooled.
What would they have said when they realized the very essence of their dictatorship would be the true source of her survival?
Because she knew it was the King who caused the drought- that he purposefully made his deal with the Black Gods to dry the sea and render his people solely dependent on him. She spent too many nights with the prince, too long in his arms as his preferred consort to ignore the truth behind the stories.
She was a fool to think she’d be able to play him for a greater fool than he already displayed. She should have known that her inquiries about his father’s wealth and fortune wouldn’t go unsuspected. And she should have expected him to be watching her…
She wrapped her arms around herself, the chill within her no longer from the desert night as she rolled onto her side to watch the glistening city in the distance.
Did he still think of her, or was he already dead?
Or was he surviving out of spite, thinking she had long since perished?
Her arms wrapped tighter around her, almost protectively as she closed her eyes and willed the hypotheticals away.
Now he would never discover the truth.
He would never know the gift they shared, the miracle they created.
Because he was dead, or thought the same of her…
Someone was on the boat.
She blinked into the hazy shade of the underbelly, her main protection from the desert’s harsh environs since she discovered the discarded vessel. Her breaths were shallow as she strained her ears, knowing there was something above that drew her from her slumber.
There it was again.
She reached for the handmade shiv crafted from harvested metal. She had yet to defend herself against anything other than the cruel natural conditions, but she was more than ready to do so for her own survival.
For their survival.
Slowly she pushed aside the old canvas sail she now used for a bedspread and crawled towards the dilapidated stairs that led up to the main deck. She could hear the boards creaking in time with her own beating heart as she moved closer to her target.
The boat was at least a day and a night away from the city, and unless someone knew it was here, there would be barely a chance to happen upon it among the vast landscape. It happened only once in her time there, but it was a rogue coyote who was as scared of her as she was of him. She ate well enough that night, and dried the remainder of the meat thereafter, but she didn’t enjoy it.
That didn’t mean she wouldn’t do it again.
The metal bit into her palm as she attempted to steady her nerves. This intruder was not coyote, or any other animal for that matter. It was very much a man, his back to her as he looked out over the stern as if trying to discern his position in connection to the city.
He wouldn’t be able to see it until sunfall, but he wasn’t going to be alive long enough to figure that out.
She screamed as she lunged, but he was ready, drawing how own sword without hesitation as he spun to face her attack.
Her momentum too fast, and his skills to refined.
She couldn’t stop the metal from piecing his neck, and he couldn’t still his blade from slashing her stomach.
With eyes wide she slumped to the deck, arms wrapping around herself once again, but this time in vain.
He, in turn, crashed to his knees, the blood running in spurts along his neck, his shirt.
“You’re alive,” she whispered, the pain searing from within.
“So are you,” he said, blood dripping down his chin.
She would have gone to him, to tell him all would be well. But the wind of the desert stole their last breaths, and they moved no more.
So, there it is. Please let me know your thoughts, as I consider how much of this needs to be scrapped and what can be salvaged…