Hello everyone and a warm welcome to Parts 1) and 2) of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge 2021. Week #38.
Today I’m featuring contributions from entry 1)By John Howell and Entry 2) My own contribution.
Last week I set the following Challenge:
Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing. Maximum word count: 750 words.
Here is the image prompt.
This one-line contribution by John Howell.
“Big shot TV tuna or no, you can’t do this, Charlie.”
John Howell can be reached here …
Visit at Amazon.https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell
Here is my own contribution.
Jeremy secured the beach canopy, then hurriedly spread out the blanket on the golden sand. Cathy carried four-year-old Matthew across and sat him down, ensuring he was comfortable before seating herself alongside her husband.
Jeremy reached across and patted her hand, “Don’t get your hopes up, honey. We’ve been through so many ways to try and communicate with Matt, and it shreds us to pieces every time we’ve failed. I can’t bear too many more of these disappointments. I mean we’re the only ones here and the dolphins apparently haven’t been sighted for days.”
Cathy squeezed his hand in acknowledgement, “Oh, God, babe, I understand, truly I do. But don’t you see … I can’t bear the thought of missing one single possibility to reach him on some level.” She looked at their child as she spoke. Matthew sat as always with his arms wrapped tightly together in front of him, and he rocked backwards and forwards to a beat of some kind that only he could hear. “Let’s look at the positives, at the very least we get to spend a day by the ocean, and we haven’t done that in such a long time.”
Her husband smiled at her with love. “Ah, there’s my dreamer. Who knows, I may even build a sand-castle after lunch.”
Cathy just nodded in gratitude. Trying hard not to warp herself in her own sadness grew increasingly more difficult as the years passed. She’d never heard her son laugh, nor felt the touch of her child’s loving hand on her face. There was no answering smile in response to her own. The only sound Matthew made was a high-pitched squeal that couldn’t be deciphered by any of the specialists they’d been to. Their precious child lived in a world of total isolation and her heart ached for him. He could hear them, but couldn’t respond to any of their efforts. It must be so terrifying to feel so alone. Her little boy could walk, but, seemed to do so without a destination in mind.
As she watched on Matthew grew agitated, the rocking increased and then sped up. Matthew stood and began pacing in measured steps left to right. His fingers clenched around his upper arms and his focus was directed out over the ocean, toward something only he could see.
Jeremy clutched her arm and pointed, “There. I saw a dolphin, I’m sure of it!”
Matthew’s pacing grew slower, and without turning away from the ocean he took a step forward.
A dolphin surfaced nearby, and Matthew took another step forward, and then stopped. He appeared to be waiting for something.
Jeremy and Cathy stood just behind him, unable to speak. They watched on as he began walking again, with a very clear destination in mind. They followed quietly not daring to make a sound.
Matthew reached the gentle waves lapping at the shore and his parents watched as the dolphin moved slowly towards him in the shallow water. It stopped within arms- length of the child.
They watched as Matthew opened his arms and allowed his left hand to trail in the water, moving it gently like a frond of seaweed caught in the current with his child’s fingers extended downward.
Matthew began to squeal, but this was different. Cathy could barely breathe as she witnessed the dolphin roll over and offer its underbelly to be touched. The little boy responded, and his chubby fingers began to stroke the beautiful mammal.
The dolphin surfaced and Matthew touched its flank softly. Matthew’s parents watched on and witnessed the first smile they had ever seen on their son’s face.
The sound that now came from their boy would live in their memories forever, it was a squeal of pure childish delight that erupted into laughter.
Matthew then stood still and took one step backward, as the dolphin gave a nod towards him and arched itself back into the deeper water. The youngster stood there utterly focused until the mammal disappeared from view.
He turned then, and moved back towards his parents.
Jeremy and Cathy couldn’t speak. They weren’t sure what they had witnessed. Matthew resumed his place under the canopy. He still rocked back and forward, but his arms were no longer wrapped around him and his fingers were unclenched. It was as if he’d finally been helped to understand that nothing here would ever deliberately harm him.
Jeremy built a sandcastle after lunch. His wife smiled her approval, and his son sat rocking peacefully and watching every move his father made.
His mother found him a seashell, she placed it to her ear and smiled at the sound of the ocean. Matthew didn’t flinch as she placed it to his ear, and a joyous smile lit his precious face as he recognized the sound of the ocean.
He slept that night with the seashell held in his hand.
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