On the 11th I posted about a challenge (or even series of challenges) that I’d be participating in, and while anyone wanting to do it still has to the end of the month to formally be part of it, you can obviously do it whenever you want.
If you are joining in, well, post away (or not, no obligation to share). Please participate and such and post your completed challenges in the comment section (linking to your own blog is fine, too). Don’t worry, you’re not alone in showing off what you wrote. Here’s what I came up with:
The things Maria did to avoid a mouthful of wet sand. She could only take peeks at the sky, as there were only strips of blue that didn’t burn her eyes. A palm tree rose only a few steps away, circled by silhouette birds, but the shadows it cast fell elsewhere.
She was being burned by the light, could feel her skin pulse with heat. She heard each incoming wave move toward her, lapping against the shore, but only the occasional one rushed up to touch her feet and they almost all stopped there. The next one didn’t.
The new rush of water went beneath her body, making her back clench into numbness. She scooped at the water, and rubbed it against the side of her stomach. The scoop was mostly sand, and it didn’t numb her skin there, so much as give relief. She pressed her fingers down, digging around the sand and through the hole in her shirt.
She knew she couldn’t lie there all day. The sun was enough on its own, but every gush of wind brought the bite of sand.
It was a cloud, only briefly so, but a cloud anyway that dimmed the sky enough for her to open her eyes. Her pupils still struggled against the brightness, yet there were features now. A beach, and an ocean that continued on to the horizon. None of it surprised Maria, but she no longer felt entirely lost.
She tried to raise her arms, but both of them strained the pain at her side. She filled her mind with everything except that, even with Bel, Anthony, and their sudden thrusts that had given it to her. Light or not, she had to move.
Maria pushed her elbows into the sand, lifting her chest. The sand ground under the pressure, and years ago that sound could have made her cringe. She ignored it and pushed her feet as well, sliding her body back along the sand, away from the water. She shimmied her legs back toward her body and pushed again.
Another shadow fell across her body and she opened her eyes, expecting more clouds between her and the sun. She saw legs, then a chest, then a silver beard.
“You were on the ship.”
Duncan. She had trouble with the face from the angle, but the voice rang like a familiar bell.
“Anthony’s father,” she said.
He tried a smile, but it would have looked bitter from any angle.
He stepped out of the light, and the sun tried to blind her once again. Detective Belmont’s lamp would have been more welcome. She grimaced, but his expression didn’t change.
“Different,” said Maria.
“Using the sun as your bad cop.”
It amused her, but it was still an air quote away from making her laugh. Duncan continued the forced smile that ached to be a snarl. He knelt down beside her and pushed fingers into the wound above her appendix. She lashed an arm at him, but he caught it and held her by the wrist.
“My son plays games. It’s why you are alive. I do not play games.”
He pushed deeper into the wound, and the pain blocked her other senses. She screamed but didn’t hear it.
“I don’t know where he is,” she said through clenched teeth. “We were-”
An echo of the pain ran through her body, interrupting her words. Duncan wasn’t stupid and waited for her to continue. A less patient man would have pushed again. Not him.
“We were on the ship. You knew that already.”
“I did,” he replied.
“March seventeen. We were… they were meant to rendezvous then. Hand over your lockbox, all of them get rich.”
“All of you. Where?”
The words chilled just as the water had, but they took her breath as well. He blames you, she thought. He thinks you’re still one of them.
“No,” she blurted in protest. She wanted to stay composed, but the void on Duncan’s face made the words spill out of her mouth. “They did this to me. A knife in my side, and thrown overboard. I should be dead.”
She didn’t want to end the sentence on dead, but something told Maria he was already thinking of the word.
“Where?” he asked again.
“San Marco, east of port.”
She felt compelled to answer him without assurances, hoping that would be enough for him to aid her, or at worst, leave her to fate. She squinted her eyes open to look for Duncan, but he wasn’t there. The waves had continued to wash up, and the wind still caressed the trees. Maria rolled her head to her left and then over to the right, no shadows to tell her where he’d gone. A noise, something impacting the sand beside her. Her hand moved toward it, and felt the cold touch of metal. No, she thought, he hadn’t gone.
“Dehydration’s a terrible way to die. Bleeding out’s not much better. When you grow tired of the pain, you have an out. Goodbye.”
His idea of mercy, she thought. Her fingers squeezed around the barrel of the revolver and dragged it toward her palm, so her hand could touch the stock. There was an indent in the imitation wood, initials carved in. She should have recognised the .44 as her own.
“Don’t expect a thank you,” she strained, waiting to spit it rather than say it.
It was laughter he responded with, taunting her in that, just as he had by giving her the gun. She raised it, leaning her head back for sight of him, but he was gone.
When the night came, Maria turned her head to the revolver again and lifted it to her temple. She felt it bite into her skin as she pushed, cool and hard, but the bullet would free her of pain. She sucked in her breath and squeezed.
Bastard, she thought. She’d find a bullet, but it would be for him.