Weekly Challenge: Prompt 1

I want to start a weekly Challenge.  Here’s how it works.  A prompt will be posted and anyone who wants to (published author or not) can post a scene answering that prompt.  It can be as short or as long as the author desires. Add scenes before or after the prompt scene… or not. Pretty much anything goes. 

Prompt 1:  Two guys run into each other at the beach. (Literally or not.  Did they already know each other? Was it love at first site? Did they just go on with their lives…one or both not thinking anymore of it?)

I look forward to seeing everyone’s responses.

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15 Comments

  1. Life-form

    Dressed comfortably in sandals, cargo shorts, T-shirt, and hoodie, Petry crouched on the edge of the tide pool and tried to see if he’d missed identifying any life-forms within it. Zeroing in on the silent, peaceful world just out of his reach, he fought to ignore the rowdiness up the beach as a crowd of surfers shouted and whooped and cursed each other. Armed with his camera phone, notepad, and pencil, he made his observations, while the noisy bunch on his left dug a fire pit and dropped ice chests onto the rocky coast of Oregon, no doubt preparing for a July 4th celebration he was sure would last deep into the night.

    The sun would be setting soon, so he began taking more pictures. He stepped carefully around the pool to capture different angles on the species he spotted: Laver, Iridescent Seaweed, Spongy Cushion, and Winged Kelp. That wasn’t bad. The pool wasn’t very large, but the variety of life seemed to bode well for pollution levels. He’d meant to arrive a couple of hours before the projected low tide of 5:20 p.m. so he’d have time to poke around the pool, but he’d been held up by a stressed student from his afternoon class and was currently in a rush. He removed a stoppered vial from the pocket of his cargo shorts, stepped to his right, and crouched again to collect a water sample. The moment he’d placed the stopper back in place, water sample safely collected—

    “Watcha doin’?”

    Startled, Petry straightened too quickly and lost his balance, but a strong arm around his waist kept him from plunging headfirst into the tide pool and disturbing its inhabitants.

    “Sorry, dude. Didn’t mean to scare ya,” the owner of the arm said as he lifted Petry backward and set him firmly on his feet.

    Petry turned to face the man, who was both his problem and his savior. “Why the hell would you sneak up on—”

    His words evaporated as he took in the tall, blond in front of him. He wore a wet suit, but the top half was peeled down and hung about his trim waist, beautifully displaying his broad shoulders and impressive chest. His hair was thick, wavy, and ever-changing in the sea breeze.

    “I called out to you twice,” the man said, gesturing toward the tide pool, “but I guess you were too focused on whatever you’re doing.” Neither of them said anything for several moments—the stranger because he was waiting on Petry to speak, and Petry because he’d forgotten how to.

    “My name’s Carson,” the surfer continued when it became clear Petry couldn’t find his voice.

    “P-Petry. Petry Michaels.”

    “Good to meet ya.” The surfer extended a big hand that engulfed Petry’s. “So… whatcha doin’?”

    “Oh,” Petry said, glancing over his shoulder at the tide pool, “I’m counting… cataloging life-forms, uh… taking water samples, making sure there’s nothing damaging their ecosystem.”

    “Cool.” Carson nodded. “So you’re some kind of scientist, huh?”

    “Marine biologist, yes.” Petry glanced around, everywhere but at Carson, and casually fastened and zipped his hoodie, pulling it down to cover any embarrassing life-form activity below his waist. Carson looked him up and down, his gaze steady and as sparkling, blue-green as sunshine on ocean water. “Well, I’d better get going,” Petry said suddenly and started gathering his equipment.

    “Hey, why don’t you join us?” Carson asked, motioning toward his rambunctious friends. Petry saw five or six men, all about Carson’s size or bigger, laughing and roughhousing with several women and each other, stoking the fire, popping open beer cans, or adjusting the radio. “We’re gonna cook out, shoot off some fireworks, have some beers, maybe even—”

    “Uh… no thank you. It’s not really my thing.” Petry grabbed his equipment case and packed away his notepad and camera phone before placing his sample vial in a tiny black, padded pouch and placing that in the larger case as well. He locked it with an audible snap.

    Carson frowned. “Aww, come on, man. Let me buy you a beer to apologize for scaring you. You can tell me about your biology stuff.”

    Petry straightened and looked into Carson’s eyes for a moment, measuring, trying to read his intent. He’d dealt with large, gorgeous men like him all his life. They were usually bullies threatened by his differences: his small stature, big brain, and quiet nature. It wasn’t until his second year of high school that his karate lessons were used to put one of them in his place. After that day, Petry was never bothered again, except by strangers, but even then, it was only the once. Currently studying Krav Maga, Petry felt certain he could protect himself if the need arose.

    “Okay. One beer.”

    The surfer beamed as Petry joined him, his handsome face making Petry’s tummy flip-flop deliciously. Carson even took hold of the case, relieving him of his burden. Petry could smell the ocean on the man’s bare skin, and Carson’s other hand went to the small of Petry’s back as they navigated down the rocky shore toward the fire pit.

    Carson’s comforting bulk at his side was welcome as they continued forward. Apparently sensing his trepidation, the big man said, his voice deep and soothing, “Not to worry. I’m sure the girls will think you’re adorable… as will a couple of the guys. I know of one who does already.”

    Petry fought not to react outwardly to Carson’s statement and focused instead on the people cavorting by the fire.

    The sun would disappear soon, and all that remained would be flickering shadows, laughter, music, faces caught in the firelight, and the primitive mating dance of life-forms in celebration, life-forms he normally avoided—odd and otherworldly—while the ocean continued its ever-present thrum in the distance.

    ~ The end ~

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  3. Fantastic. I especially like the line: “Petry glanced around, everywhere but at Carson, and casually fastened and zipped his hoodie, pulling it down to cover any embarrassing life-form activity below his waist.”

    Thanks for playing.

  4. Bryan was taking his pulse and looking at his watch, when he tripped over someone.

    A few seconds ago, it had been clear, but as he landed on his knees on the damp sand, it was fairly obvious he had missed something.

    “My apologies,” a deep voiced man said. “I was talking to this starfish.”

    A hand was offered, and Bryan took it to hoist himself up. He found himself face to face with a handsome, square jawed man with eyes the crystal blue of Caribbean waters, and long hair as green as seaweed. After the shock of his appearance settled in, Bryan realized what he said. He chuckled. “Umm, what? Talk to a lot of starfish?”

    “No, they usually don’t have much to say,” the man said, deadpan. He was playing this joke with such perfect serious, Bryan wondered if he was an actor. “But I’m desperate. There are no crabs around, and geoducks are buried too deep to see anything.”

    Bryan nodded, trying not to laugh. This guy was good. “What are you looking for?”

    “I believe the King of the Mermen has found a way to walk on land. If so, it’s only a matter of time before he starts preying on humans.” His clear blue eyes scanned the beach, which was fairly empty. An overcast, chilly day didn’t encourage beachgoers, unless they were joggers flirting with sadism, like him. Not that Bryan was a sadist, it’s just sometimes, on remarkably shitty days, he felt that way.

    “I’m Bryan,” he said, offering his hand. “You’re new here, aren’t you?”

    The man looked down at his hand, and then held out his own in the same manner. Bryan noticed he not only had big hands, but he appeared to have webbing between his fingers. “I am Prince Sandor of Atlantis, and I have been here for twenty two tidal shifts. If you see a merman on land, summon me. The crabs know where I am.”

    With that, he turned and walked back towards the water. Bryan then realized what he took for green swim trunks was actually kelp wrapped around his waist, which suddenly swirled and fanned out as he waded into the cold gray water. Bryan opened his mouth to call to him – it was a great bit, but that water was cold enough to cause hypothermia – but he dove beneath the water, and seemed to disappear almost instantly.

    He was deeply confused. Was the guy instantly pulled beneath by a riptide? Hypothermia could work that fast, could it? Well, maybe. The guy was naked! Bryan saw a flash of his very nice – although very white – butt before he dove under. Should he call 9-1-1?

    Bryan looked down, and saw the only footprints in the sand were his, and the odd ones coming out of and leading back to the water. Bryan crouched down to examine what was so weird about the footprints, and eventually decided that they were so oddly shaped because Sandor had webbing between his toes, like he had between his fingers.

    Had he just had a first contact experience with the Prince of Atlantis? Or just a really dedicated cosplayer?

    Either way, his book club was never going to believe this.

  5. The day was gray: gray sky, gray ocean, gray rain slanting sideways. Dave hunched in his slicker and tried not to inhale water at every breath.

    Wendy looked up at him woefully.

    “Yeah, don’t give me that face. You’re the reason we’re out here.” He could feel his jeans clinging unpleasantly to his legs. The day wasn’t terribly cold, though, just very wet. “Come on, you’re a water dog. Well, there’s some water. Up, down, and sideways.”

    Wendy’s tail gave a couple of disconsolate, soggy wags. He unhooked her leash so that she could run on the beach if she was so inclined, which apparently she wasn’t. Still, he had no intention of taking her back to the apartment before she’d had at least some exercise. Wendy was two years old, still a bundle of energy in the way of young Labs. Dave picked up a sand-encrusted driftwood stick and waved it in front of her nose. Instant laser focus ensued, and as soon as he pulled back his arm to throw, Wendy was already running, not even waiting for the snap of release.

    Dave laughed, watching her leap and twist to catch the stick before it touched the sand. On a better day he would’ve brought the frisbee. Wendy was never going to win any retriever trials, but she was pretty good at snatching the toy out of the air.

    She trotted up to him happily and dropped the sand-encrusted stick at his feet. Dave threw it again, this time strolling after her while she chased it and brought it back, and so they made slow progress down the rain-washed beach. The weather wasn’t improving, and Dave resolved to turn around at the headland, where the beach dipped back into a sheltered cove and a small boat harbor. He’d often walked to the harbor with Wendy — it was about two miles — looking for interesting things washed up on the beach; especially after a storm, there would be good opportunities for beachcombing. During a storm, though, was a different matter; on a day like today, he figured the half-mile walk to the headland was pushing it.

    By the time they made it to the headland, he was wetter than he’d thought possible, and Wendy had even lost interest in the stick.

    And there was someone standing in the edge of the waves.

    From a distance, Dave had mistaken the person for a washed-up tree. They did get those sometimes, whole conifers washed ashore, stripped of bark and needles and twigs; only the sturdier parts remaining, their roots and stub ends of branches standing up to attention.

    But no, it was a person — male, Dave thought, with a poncho whipping in the wind and waves washing over his legs. Just standing, looking out to sea.

    “Hey? Are you okay?” Dave called, trying to pitch his voice to carry above the wind and waves.

    This made Wendy perk up and take notice. With her poor canine eyesight, she didn’t seem to have noticed the stranger until Dave brought her attention to him. Then she barreled forward, eager to make a new friend.

    “Wendy! No!” Dave yelped. Not everyone appreciated seventy pounds of wet, filthy, friendly Lab slamming into their legs. In fact, most people failed to appreciate it.

    But, by the time he got there, the stranger had retreated out of the water and was crouching down to pet Wendy, sweet-talking her so that the dog wriggled in ecstatic delight.

    “Sorry, sorry, she’s friendly,” Dave said — the automatic reassurance of the owner of a rather large, very friendly dog. “Wendy, down.”

    He had to repeat the command and add a hand signal, which she hadn’t needed since her early obedience classes, before Wendy reluctantly dropped into the wet sand.

    “It’s all right.” The stranger scratched her ears and stood up. “She seems like a sweetheart.”

    The hood of his rain poncho was down, and the rain plastered his short hair to his scalp. He was about forty or so, with a light beard. Beneath the poncho, he seemed to be wearing — nothing? His legs were certainly bare. Then Dave glimpsed the edge of rolled-up pants cuffs, revealed and hidden as the wind whipped the poncho around.

    The stranger didn’t seem distressed in any way — he’d bent over again to pet the dog — but standing barefoot in the ocean during a storm was far enough off from sane behavior that Dave asked, “Are you all right?” He wasn’t sure whether to ask his real question: You weren’t thinking of throwing yourself in, were you?

    But all he got in reply was a broad smile. “No, no, I just had to get closer. You can’t really say that you’ve experienced the ocean until you feel it around your legs and under your feet.”

    Aha, so he was dealing with some sort of nature-communing type. Dave had communed with a bit of nature in his time; still, he felt compelled to point out, “The waves can be pretty unpredictable on a day like this. You should probably stay a little farther back.”

    “Good point.” A hand extended in his direction, broad and tanned. “Charlie.”

    Charlie had a firm handshake, and Dave found himself returning Charlie’s ready grin. Sometimes you did find very interesting things washed up on a beach after a storm.

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  7. Beach Blues

    Kirby sighed as the sun beat down on his skinny form. God, he hated the beach. It was hot. There were no video games and the wi-fi sucked. Add that to the screaming children, yelling parents and all of the other people crammed on this tiny swatch of land and it equaled one of the worst days Kirby had spent in his eighteen years.

    He questioned for the fiftieth time that day why he had allowed himself to be dragged to off to this hell-hole. Sure, he knew why: his grandmother had laid on a massive guilt trip. He was going off to college in a few weeks and this would be one of the last days that he would get to spend with his family before he left, since he had to work most days. The guilt-laden comments of how little time he was spending with his family got old fast. So he caved. He agreed that it was almost worth the misery of being stuck on this God-forsaken beach if he could get his grandmother to shut up. Almost.

    Pushing blonde hair away from his baby blue eyes, Kirby reached over to the huge floral-printed beach bag that his grandmother brought. He could almost feel his skin baking in the hot sun. It took a little digging, but he eventually found the huge bottle of sunscreen at the bottom of the oversized bag. Kirby always burned easy, his pasty white skin offering no protection from the elements. All the more reason to stay inside.

    He was just about done slathering the white goop on his skin when he felt something hard whack into the back of his head. Kirby whipped his head around to see a tall man running towards where he sat on an old Finding Nemo beach towel. Kirby had to work to keep his mouth from falling open at the pure beauty that was currently running towards him. The man was probably about six foot three, a good six inches taller than Kirby’s own form. His skin was a little bit darker, as if he had some Hispanic blood in him. Or maybe he just spent a lot of time outdoors. That would certainly explain the perfectly formed muscles in his arms and abs. The guy was so fit he practically had a six-pack. His legs looked strong too, but the green swim trunks he was wearing fell to his knees, so he could not be sure. His brown hair was a little messed up, but it was floppy and looked soft. In short, the man was a walking wet dream.

    “Hey, sorry about that. It kind of got away from me.”

    “What?” Kirby could have kicked himself with how clueless he sounded. But how could someone blame him. There was a fucking God in front of him.

    “The Frisbee? I saw it hit you. Are you okay?”

    Kirby looked down and saw a red disc lying on his towel. “Oh,” he said, picking up the Frisbee. He got up off the towel and handed it back to him. “Here you go.”

    “Thanks. Are you sure that you are okay? I feel kinda bad for hitting you.”

    “Yeah, I am fine.”

    “Well, let me make it up to you. How about I get you a soda from the snack bar?”

    “Yes,” Kirby practically screamed. He ducked his head soon after the word left his mouth. Damn, he was screwing this up.

    But the man did not seem bothered. “Cool. Let me go tell my brother.”

    “Wouldn’t he mind if you leave him?”

    The man smiled at Kirby, showing him a mouth full of perfectly straight white teeth. Did this guy have any physical imperfections? “Nah. He will be more than happy to get rid of me. He is here with his girlfriend.” The tone is his voice made Kirby think that he did not approve of his brother’s date, but he did not want to pry.

    “Okay, cool. Let me just go tell my own family that I am leaving.”

    “Okay. Meet you back here in five?”

    Kirby nodded and headed off to the water. His grandmother had taken his younger brother and sister in the ocean a little while ago. Jake and Jamie loved the water, so he knew that she would still be in there with the eight year-old twin terrors.

    His grandmother was not too pleased that he was leaving in the middle of ‘family time’ to spend time with a stranger, but she eventually relented. Kirby could not understand how it was family time, considering that he spent much of the time on the beach, but whatever. (Who the hell would go in the ocean anyway? Who knows what kind of dangers are in there? As bad as the hot sand was, at least there were no sharks.)

    When Kirby walked back to his towel, the man was already there waiting there. The exchanged small smiles before walking up the beach to the large snack bar on the boardwalk. The man, after asking what Kirby wanted, ordered two Cokes at the snack bar before leading Kirby to a vacant bench.

    “Thanks for the soda,” Kirby said after taking a sip of the cool liquid.

    “No problem. So what is your name?”

    “Kirby. Kirby Walker.”

    “Cool. I am Dane Binneman.”

    “Nice to meet you.”

    The two sat in silence for a little bit. Kirby was desperately trying to come up with something to say, but Dane seemed content to sit in silence.

    “So what brings you to the beach,” Kirby asked, after an eternity of silence.

    “Had the day off from work. My brother and I have to go back to school in a few weeks so we will not see each other for a few months. He goes to school in California and I go here. It was supposed to be just us, but at the last moment he brought the blonde bitch.”

    “I guess you don’t like her.”

    “She is a slut. He is way too good for her. But her boobs are huge and he says she is good in sack. Not I would know. Or care. What about you?”

    “My grandmother promised my younger siblings that she would bring them to the beach before school started. I got guilted into coming. I am leaving for college in a few weeks, so I am moving out of her house and into the dorm. I know that she will miss me, so I agreed to come. I only wish that she did not have to pick the beach for family time. I hate the beach.”

    Dane laughed. “Sorry. But that is actually funny.”

    “Says the guy who doesn’t hate the beach.”

    “True. So where are you going?”

    “Rutgers.”

    “No way. I go to Rutgers. I am going to be a Junior.”

    “Really?” Kirby could not help but smile. Dane went to his school! Maybe they could stay in touch. Kirby knew that freshman and juniors were not typically friends, but anything is possible. Right?

    “Yeah. What a coincidence.”

    Kirby and Dane talked for a long time about Rutgers, how they got there, what they wanted to do with their education and everything else. The next thing Kirby knew two hours had passed and his grandmother had come up to the Boardwalk to look for him. Using some clever language, Kirby managed to send her away, but he knew that it was only a matter of time before she came back with the twins.

    “I guess that I have to go,” Kirby said with great reluctance.

    “I understand. Here let me give you my number before you do.” Exchanging cell phones, they both entered their contact information into each other’s phones.

    “I had a lot of fun today,” Dane said as he handed the phone back.

    “Yeah, I did too,” Kirby said, blush rising on my cheeks.

    “Hey, Kirby. I may be reading this wrong, and feel free to tell me if I am, but are you…gay?”

    Kirby’s head snapped up and met Dane’s eyes. Dane had seen through him! That was not part of the plan. But looking into his eyes, Kirby noticed that there was no hatred or loathing. Just a gentle curiosity.

    Taking a risk, Kirby slowly nodded his head.

    “Good. Are you single?”

    Curious as to where this is going, Kirby slowly nodded again.

    “Good.” The next thing that Kirby knew soft lips touched his own. Dane was kissing him! It was soft and gentle and everything that Kirby could have dreamed of and more.

    Much too soon, Dane pulled away, a gentle smile on his lips. “I loved spending time with you. Call me sometime. Maybe we can get together when we get back on campus.”

    Then, with one last gentle look, Dane stood up from the bench and walked down to the beach. Kirby remained sitting, still in shock from what just happened.

    Dane had kissed him. On the lips. He was gay too! And he had told Kirby to call. Holy crap!

    Slowly a huge grin broke out onto Kirby’s face. Maybe he grandmother had been right. Maybe the beach wasn’t so bad, after all.

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