This week, I have struggled with where to take my young story. The first scene will remain as I had originally planned, i.e. finding the drowned man on the beach. However, from there I can take the story in any direction. I originally thought that John and Arash would drag the body to the clinic together, but instead, Arash runs away (as you will see later). Meanwhile, I am deciding whether or not to bring the townspeople into the story, which could potentially create a schism between John and the patients he has been taking care of for years. Altogether, with the story’s foundations laid, I now stand on a literary precipice. There is any number off possibilities for a story based on a dead man washing up on the shore; only time will tell what happens. Here is the next excerpt, which picks up immediately where the previous one takes off.
It took me a moment to react. Arash was already tearing off his apron and tunic and sprinting down to the shoreline, ready to jump into the water. I jolted into action, pulling off my own tunic and quickly tying back my hair with a piece of string from my pocket. I ran into the water and paused for a moment before diving. I looked down at my arms, which had always been rather scrawny. The figure floating toward the rocks was over a hundred feet out. I muttered something obscene about how ridiculous this all was, then dove straight under the next wave.
The water hit like a flash of cold lightning. It never seemed so bite my skin so harshly when it was just washing mildly over my toes. It surrounded me on all sides, filling my nose and ears. The salt burned my eyes, but I kept swimming outwards, coming up every few seconds for a gasping breath. Already thirty feet ahead, Arash was swimming in organized, powerful strokes toward the rocks.
Up ahead, I saw him pull himself up onto a water-worn rock for a few moments, then dive again into the sea towards a smaller set of rocks roughly thirty feet away. I turned, trying to keep Arash in my field of vision every time I came up for air. The waves rose between us, making it almost impossible to see his form so far ahead. Finally, as a wave rose up underneath me, I saw the figure was lying on some sort of dark raft. Arash reached on and grabbed the limp figure’s arm, pulling with all of the power left in his body towards the shore.
Eventually, Arash pulled the raft close enough that I could grab the figure’s other arm, and together we dragged ourselves back onto the beach, gasping desperately for breath. I took it in in great heaving gasps, my lungs desperate for oxygen. It took over a minute of hyperventilation before I finally noticed that my hand was still clamped like a vice around the stranger’s wrist. On the other side, I could hear Arash retching up salt water all over the pristine sand. I could feel it too, eating away at my stomach lining, my body tempted to toss it all up.
With a groan, I turned towards what at this point was clearly a dead man, and found my face in a pile of soaking wet black feathers. Confused, I tried to focus on the body, unsure why the raft was covered in feathers, but there was still too much salt water in my eyes. For a moment, I thought I saw what the feathers were, but just then, my stomach decided it could no longer hold everything down. With a great shudder, the water came pouring up, cascading over my torso and dribbling away into the sand. With each painful retch, less water came out, until I was left dry heaving onto the beach, spit draining from my lips. I groaned again, my body aching everywhere at once.
“John there’s…” I heard Arash mutter weakly, followed by several hacking coughs.
My body ached so much that I could only reply with a light moan to show that I was alive.
“John, it’s… I don’t… An, it’s an angel,” Arash gasped.