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Tom88
October 16th, 2010, 05:14 AM
On the fifth hour the weather turns savage. Wave after wave rolls over our tiny craft. We buck and tip, and I don’t think we’re gonna make it. Each of us digs our paddles into the water, in a flurry of desperation but it feels like we’re getting nowhere. My muscles ache and my hands spasm with each stroke.

A huge wave strikes our rear and launches us forward. At this moment I’m grateful our lower torsos are securely pinned in this canoe. I want to give up. This is pure exhaustion, and I have never felt such agony. We’re all tired, too tired to change anything. I realize this by the sloppy strokes we take. The panic makes it hard to synchronize, and without a unified motion we’re basically working against ourselves.
The waves offer a moment’s reprieve, but it’s short-lived. None of the others notice, they are impenetrably focused, but I have always been an observer. In the corner of my eye it’s there, brewing, vacuuming back the water and adding it to its own form until it’s infinite, a skyscraper, surging up and seizing the very sky above. It rolls itself out, launching its attack, but for a second it holds itself above us, as though taunting, as though feeding on our fear.

In this brief, final moment, my last conscious thought. After this everything will black out, never to be seen again, but this is the moment that precedes, and in it I find myself laughing. Awaiting my watery fate, my mind races through memory, searching for one final, defining statement:
I’m in a classroom, it’s ’97, maybe ’98. My maths teacher, Mr. Rowe, is recounting his weekend. He says he spent it kayaking down at Currumbin Creek. He says the sun was particularly accommodating this weekend, though he laments his sunburn. And then someone, I think it’s Steve Baker, or maybe Taj Fairbairn, shouts “Row row Mr. Rowe gently down the creek!”, and pretty soon everyone joins in and it becomes this sorta chant, this good-natured rib. And there’s this moment of tension where we’re not sure if he’s gonna get angry. He just kinda stands there, deliberating, and then he concedes with a snort, gurgle and gasp and then bursts into laughter. He walks the length of the blackboard and back, pretending to row a boat. His exaggerated motions are great, but it’s his expression that makes it so funny. I’ll never forget the way his crazy eyes lit up, or how his uptight professionalism literally burst.

This is the final thought I have as the behemoth wave closes in and tears apart our canoe like it were scrunching up a piece of paper. I don’t feel afraid. Actually, I feel sort of at peace. My body is strewn about in the violent current, but I don’t feel pain. I resign to my fate and drift gradually out of consciousness. It feels like collapsing on your bed after a long, hard day, a serenity that fills every inch of me. It feels amazing.

The Backward OX
October 16th, 2010, 06:47 AM
Must be a boomerang-shaped canoe if a wave can hit its side and push it forward. :-\"

Tom88
October 16th, 2010, 07:05 AM
Fixed. Anything else?

spider8
October 16th, 2010, 07:27 AM
I liked the skyscraper bit but would have preferred the skyscraper mentioned before the description of its action. I had to look back. I wasn't keen on you going back and remembering Mr Rowe in the classroom, seemed out of place to me.

caelum
October 16th, 2010, 08:22 AM
Heya, Tom. Haven't seen one of your stories in a while. Pardon me if I jump right into the nitpicks here.


Each of us digs our paddles into the water, in a flurry of desperation but it feels like we’re getting nowhere.I'd move the comma to before the but.


without a unified motion we’re basically working against ourselves.I think you can strengthen this part by removing the adverb and just putting work. I'd put an often too.

without a unified motion we often work against ourselves.

The waves offer a moment’s reprieve, but it’s short-lived. None of the others notice, they are impenetrably focused, but I have always been an observer. In the corner of my eye it’s there, brewing, vacuuming back the water and adding it to its own form until it’s infinite, a skyscraper, surging up and seizing the very sky above. It rolls itself out, launching its attack, but for a second it holds itself above us, as though taunting, as though feeding on our fear.Okay, I'm gonna go in depth here for a minute. Being honest I had problems with this paragraph. The waves offering a reprieve; you might want to get more specific with that and say the waves let up. The next sentence about the others not noticing, a little unclear what it applies to at first (the "reprieve" was what you just wrote and I thought it applied to that). I find the comments about the other rowers being too focused to notice the wave strange, because didn't the storm let up for a while?

The first time I read the paragraph, I honestly had no idea that the thing was a tidal wave. I think my confusion was because some of your adjectives threw me off, namely infinite and skyscraper. This is just my preference but, I think you should put a heavier hint that it's a giant wave, maybe even explicitly calling it as much. "I looked out the boat and saw a huge-ass tsunami coming my way, baby." Calling the reader baby isn't recommended, though.


down the creek!”, andThe comma here isn't necessary, you almost never have grammar outside the quotations marks. The exclamation is enough anyway.

Hah, that part where the teacher rows in front of the class is awesome.

I thought this was a very pleasant read, Tom. Nice action and imagery. I like the way he accepts his fate at the end.
-cae

Tom88
October 16th, 2010, 12:53 PM
Thanks for reading spider8.

And thanks for the great feedback caelum. I agree with all your suggestions, that's a first huh? lol.
I think with that meaty paragraph about the tsunami I was grasping at some lucid floaty imagery that clearly got away from me a little. Skyscraper and infinite definitely won't make the cut, and in fact I think I'll cut and play with the whole paragraph to make it alot clearer, since, you're right, no where does it definitely say that an impending wave is coming (I think spider8 misinterpreted it too, so that just verifies that it was messy writing).

This was just something I whipped together as a brief exercise anyway. I'm actually working on a longer piece that is very nearly done. I haven't really prioritised writing for most of this year. That is going to change.