Bootcamp Fiction

Over the weekend I attended a fiction writing bootcamp run by Laura van der Berg at Catapult and one of the exercises was to write a story using three unrelated ingredients as organically as possible. The three words I was given were:

Seaside Town
Romantic Tension
Crying Woman 

Here’s my story:

At first I wasn’t sure if what I heard was a seagull. There are a lot of them in this town – filthy, noisy scavengers – and I do my best to tune them out. But some sounds aren’t so easy to ignore. After ten minutes of trying to solve the problem with logic, I convinced myself this was no bird and went outside to investigate.

She was alone on one of the boardwalk benches overlooking the waves. She struck me as the kind of person who was isn’t used to crying in public and her embarrassment was as pitiful as her grief.

My instinct was to ignore her. I saw the pitfalls of immersing myself in the problems of a stranger. But I’d never seen anything more beautiful than her naked, sunburnt shoulders shaking in the afternoon sunlight. “Excuse me,” I said. “Are you alright?”

She snapped to attention and composed herself with impressive dexterity. She completed her composition by tracing a single slender index finger across the bottom contour of each eyeball. She inhaled her demons and deposited them in their respective pockets. She did her best to hide her pain, and her shame, but nothing could hide her beauty.

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