Tears Across the Waves: a short story

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Annart's Challenge

In annart's wonderful hub "THE RICHNESS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: What does it Mean to You as a Writer? Learn it Well; Use it to Good Effect." she issued the following challenge.

This is a photo. This is a painting. I challenge you to make a story from this. Paint a story. Capture the photo in your words. (For the purposes of this challenge, hubbers have my permission to use this photo - with the appropriate attribution please.)

Below is the Ann's painting:

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Tears Across the Waves

by John Hansen © 2014

I stand in the shallow water, gentle waves lapping at my ankles, the rising sun creating a myriad of colours across the sea - all the way to the horizon.To me it seems like God is sending me a sign, lighting my way so I could just step out and walk across the water.

My parents have a beach house up on the hill, just 100 yards or so from where I stand. Rough wooden steps lead down to the beach. We came here every Summer. My Mom and Dad, twin sister Heather, and myself. It was our Heaven on Earth.

Burnham Beach was always my favourite place, so peaceful and beautiful. But that was before .. before the tragedy.

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My name is Lilly. I am 10 years and two weeks old. This is the first time we have been back to the beach house ..since..

I let my mind recount the events. It is all still so clear, as though it happened just last week.

Heather and I had just turned eight. We had actually celebrated the night before and our Mom had baked a yummy cake with 16 candles for the both of us to blow out at once. As well as sisters we were also best friends. Our life was carefree and full of fun and adventure. We spent all our spare holiday time, for as long as I can remember, at this beach.

As soon as we woke in the morning Heather and I would eat breakfast, then watch the clock (Daddy always said to wait for an hour after eating before going into the water to avoid cramps). But as soon as that hour was up, we'd already be in our swimsuits, grab our towels, and race each other down to the beach.

Mommy and Daddy didn't mind us going going off alone. They'd taught us beach and water safety and to always stick together. Besides, we were good swimmers.. or so we thought.

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We had built an amazing sandcastle together. Heather was just the best at it. She was smarter than me at school and sometimes helped me cheat. Because we were identical we would sometimes swap places in a test. I think she was prettier too, but everyone else says we looked exactly the same. Anyway, we built the sand castle too close to the water and the quickly rising tide soon washed it away. It was so sad.

We decided to forget the castle and go for a swim. The weather was fine with just a slight sea breeze and the water calm, though the swell was increasing steadily. We had fun body surfing and competing to see who could ride the waves furthest into shore.

After about 30 minutes I decided to leave the water and lie on my towel on the beach to dry off and improve my tan. Heather stayed in the water .. in fact Heather never came out.

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I must have dozed off for a few minutes, though it seemed like just seconds, when something startled me awake. I sat up and looked out to where we had been swimming. Heather wasn't there! I began to panic. I jumped quickly to my feet, looking left and right, out into the waves which seemed to have grown a lot since I had been on the beach.

Then I saw her! Way off to the left of where she'd been last time I saw her, an much further out. I waved my hands frantically and called out loudly, "Heather, come back in!" I saw her wave one arm in the air as if in reply.. but then she disappeared, as a wave crashed over her.

I raced down the beach and into the water, swimming out as far as I dared, but it was hard against the waves. "Heather!" I spluttered, but she was nowhere to be seen. The sea had swallowed my twin sister.

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Gower Lighthouse | Source
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The search went on for days. The Coast Guard and helicopters searched the entire area, but there was no trace. Heather was gone forever.

Nothing has been the same since. Losing a twin is like losing a part of your own body. My parents don't talk about it much, but they seem to fight a lot .. something they never did before Heather disappeared. Maybe they blame me - I know I do. We were told to "always stay together."

The police investigators and lifeguards said she was caught in a rip. They said it was something Burnham Beach was infamous for. No one had told us! Today there are signs "SWIM BETWEEN THE FLAGS." Two years ago these weren't there.

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As the sun rose higher the stream of light it cast across the sea diminished. The path leading me to Heather's watery grave disappeared, and so did my thoughts of wading out to be with her. I hung my head and sat down on the beach .. a silent tear ran down my cheek and dropped onto the sand. A gentle wave came in embraced it, then took it out to sea .. and to Heather.

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What emotion did you feel when viewing annart's painting?

  • Sadness
  • Peace
  • Happiness
  • Desperation
  • Other (please explain in comments)
See results without voting

© 2014 John Hansen

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Comments 91 comments

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 23 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

John, I played the music by Across the Waves as I read your awesome story, and it is a perfect match. Two little girls, two lives. I'll say no more so I don't spoil it for others.

You've risen to Ann's challenge and beyond. Well done. Now where's that box of tissues......


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Cam. Your comment is much appreciated. This was another interesting challenge, I wasn't sure I could do it justice but glad I had a go. Glad you thought the music matched well too. I think there will be a lot of tear jerkers coming from this picture.


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 23 months ago from Hyderabad, India

A great story. Very much touching to heart. Very sad for the girl lost in waves. You have done it so wonderful. Congrats and thanks.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I am honoured by your generous comment Venkatachari. I am so glad you enjoyed this story.


Availiasvision profile image

Availiasvision 23 months ago from California

What a sweet and touching story. A good reminder to use water safety.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Availiasvision. I am glad you enjoyed this story.


annart profile image

annart 23 months ago from SW England

I love the way you use the sun's reflection as a path out to sea and the way the tear was transported to Heather. I'd hoped someone would pick up on that! Great that you've based your story in Burnham and you've obviously done your research. It is notorious, in fact a young boy was swept off the jetty a few years back; very sad.

You've conveyed the idea of the closeness of twins too.

Great response, John. Thanks for doing this. I'll add this link to my hub.

Ann


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for your kind comment Ann, I am so glad you approve what I came up with. The image was inspiring and I love it when other hubbers issue a challenge. It enables us to expand our writing in areas we otherwise may not consider. I enjoyed this challenge, thank you.


annart profile image

annart 23 months ago from SW England

I love challenges too and I think it's important to stretch our boundaries.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 23 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

John, this is a wonderful response to Ann's challenge. No less than we've come to expect from someone with your talent. You've taken an idea, in this case, an image, and painted your own incredible story. Sad, but imaginative and very well done.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Jo. You are always so supportive of your fellow writers. I love doing these challenges and appreciate your kind comment. Glad you enjoyed this story. I hope you choose to write one as well.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 23 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

I could not help it I got upset immediately at two 8 year old's swimming in the sea alone. I guess you drew me in quick. Well done friend.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Sorry Eric, I know it was a sad tale. If a story is going to succeed it has to have a quick impact though, right? Thanks for reading.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 23 months ago from Central Florida

Wonderful job on the challenge, John. This is a very sad story, but well-told. Great job!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Shauna. I appreciate your kind comment. Glad you enjoyed my take on the picture.


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 23 months ago

Gee, John, that was a great story - from a writers point, that is. It must be breathtaking and overwhelming to lose your twin sister. I voted it up+++, shared it and pinned it. (I still have to read Ann's Hub.)

Kevin


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Kevin. Yes it would be devestating. I had to put myself into the role of Lilly to write the story, so I could feel the sadness. I appreciate the vote up an share.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 23 months ago from Olympia, WA

A wonderful response to Ann's challenge, John. I love the creativity and interpretation....well done, chap!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Bill, I love these challenges. I think they bring out the best in my writing.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 23 months ago from New York

Well Jodah, I have to agree with everyone else. Great story, but then we expect that from you my friend. Funny, the story I wrote has a sad twist too but I just can't seem to get it right so I'm still working on it. Loved this, though it brought more tears to send to Heather.

Voted up, awesome, beautiful, and interesting.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading this Mary and leaving such a generous and encouraging comment. Heather is sure getting a flood of tears washed her way. Thanks also for the vote up. I'm sure you will perfect your story soon..I look forward to it.


liesl5858 profile image

liesl5858 23 months ago from United Kingdom

Hi! Jodah, What a great story you have created out of that beautiful picture. I love the way you told your story although it has a sad ending I think it is still a good one. Well done you.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton

you really take on a challenge head on bravo my friend...:)


Harishprasad profile image

Harishprasad 23 months ago from India

John, this is a great story though tragic one. You scripted it so well that not a moment I lost interest in reading it whole. A challenge you met so well. You are really a fantastic story weaver. I would also love a happy version of it if you would write such in future. Voted up.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 23 months ago from Southern Illinois

Jodah, this is beautiful. Your imagination is a readers delight. I loved the teardrop being washed away to the sea and Heather. You have the ability to write words that move me emotionally, of course I shed a tear, that's how good you are. Thank you.. Tweeted


lafleurdeplume profile image

lafleurdeplume 23 months ago from Chicago-land

What a sad story... beautifully written and wonderfully engaging. Voted up Jodah!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading lies5858. I appreciate your kind comment.


Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 23 months ago from LOS ANGELES

Jodah: As always your work is amazing. Beautifully written story, I loved the music and the pictures, you definitely raised the bar. Well-done. Voted up and awesome


klidstone1970 profile image

klidstone1970 23 months ago from Niagara Region, Canada

The wave taking the tear out to sea is brilliant. What a picture it brought to mind! You are totally believable writing Lilly's point of view. I can hear the ten year old voice in the words. Nicely done, John.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hey Frank, I thrive on these challenge. Thanks.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I am glad you enjoyed this sad story Harishprasad. Your words are very generous as always. Maybe I can come up with a happier version some time down the track. Thanks for the vote up.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for that beautiful comment Ruby, that my writing moves you and makes you cry is a real compliment. I appreciate the tweet too.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for the kind comment and vote up Sarah, glad you enjoyed this story.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Glad you enjoyed this Dana, your support is an inspiration. Have a great day/night.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for the generous words Kim. It is especially great coming from a superb story writer as yourself. I was hoping I could pull off writing as a 10 year old girl.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 23 months ago from The Beautiful South

So fantastic John. It has been so thrilling to see you reach further and further in your writing. So very professional. You have arrived!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Aw, thank you Jackie, I have been working hard trying to perfect it. I still have problems with grammar, but I think the substance has improved substantially. You have always been a great encouragement and much appreciated. Glad you enjoyed this story.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 23 months ago from southern USA

I am enjoying catching up on all those who have joined in on Ann's challenge. You have truly written a wonderful yet sad story here, so poignant as to Ann's painting. It is an amazing painting to inspire writing. Love your choice of music.

Well done!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Faith, your wonderful comment is greatly appreciated. Glad you enjoyed the music too. The other's who took up the challenge have done a great job too. Have a great day.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 23 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a great response to Ann's illustration and challenge, Jodah. I love the image of Lilly sending a tear to Heather via the ocean.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you ALicia..much appreciate your kind comment. The addition of the tear washing out to sea and Heather was a last minute idea.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 23 months ago from The Caribbean

Jodah, what a beautiful story this challenge produced in you! You included so many meaningful details which makes it easy to conclude that the story is true. Beautifully written regardless of the theme of loss--perfect ending!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes MsDora, these challenges seem to bring out the best in my writing. I don't know what it is. Thank you for your kind words as always. I'm glad the story had a sense of realism.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 23 months ago from Oakley, CA

What a powerful story, and a tear-jerker. That was awesome, but I sure hope it was fiction! That was sad, and would be all the sadder if based in truth.

Voted up and beautiful.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you MsLizzy. Yes fortunately it is fiction, though you are the second reader who said it sounded as though it could have been a true story. That is a great compliment. It's amazing the different takes people can have from the same picture. Your poem was much more positive.


Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 23 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Wow what a story. You especially grabbed my attention when I read: My name is Lilly. I am 10 years and two weeks old. My granddaughter her name is Lily and she is ten years old! Voted up!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Wow Nadine, what a coincidence! No wonder it grabbed your attention. Thanks for reading and that interesting comment.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 23 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Very good. I actually considered this challenge myself, but I think you've created something that deserves to stand on its own. Congratulations!

Voted up, and awesome.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Your comment means a lot. I'm sure you would have written a great contribution to this challenge as well had you chosen to. Thanks for the vote up too.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 23 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

You've had a good response to your story, John. Your connection with the people here on HP really shows.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes Cam. I can't complain. The supportive community here is my main reason for writing at Hub Pages. What blew me away was Nadine saying she had a granddaughter named Lily who is 10 years old.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 23 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

Yes, I saw nadine's post. That is amazing. Off to work now.


btrbell profile image

btrbell 23 months ago from Mesa, AZ

So sad. So we'll written. You truly captured the picture!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks so much btrbell. You are very kind.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 23 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

John, you can’t stop reading this story; it pulls you in and holds you like that rip tide. I like how you formed Lilly’s story in words that are closer to that of a ten year-old child – with such heartrending honesty and imagery. “A gentle wave came in embraced it, then took it out to sea .. and to Heather.” Beautiful ending that brought tears to join Lilly’s. You met this challenge brilliantly! Voted up and shared.


jhamann profile image

jhamann 23 months ago from Reno NV

I liked how the beach meant safety and fun at first and then the truth of nature was told. I like how so far in the stories I have found that the shadowy girl is a metaphor for loss. Awesome story! Jamie


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I appreciate your kind and encouraging comment Genna. I enjoyed writing this but it even made me sad while doing so. I guess you have to really immerse yourself in a story to make it succeed. Glad the ending was so well received too. Thanks for the vote up and share.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Jamie, yes "loss" seems to be the main theme running through most of the stories in response to Ann's picture. There are some good ones though despite that.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 23 months ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and awesome. A sad but beautiful story. Passing this on.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Gypsy, thanks for your kind comment. I am quite proud of this story. Although sad I enjoyed writing it. I appreciate you sharing this.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 23 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

Jodah, yes, you should be proud, for it is a very emotional and touching story. I could feel Lilly's sadness and longing for her twin. The tear washing out to Heather was a very spiritual touch. I enjoyed reading your story.

Up, Beautiful and H+


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for you kind words Phyllis, just read your story and it's wonderful. Have a great day.


Marie Flint profile image

Marie Flint 23 months ago from Jacksonville, FL

This makes a good children's story, Jodah. I do believe you love writing for children.

As far as Ann's painting, I get solitude with, perhaps, a little anticipation of adventure. There seems to be a storm coming at dusk.

I probably would have done a take-off of a fantasy adventure where I'm the main character getting trapped in an underwater cavern that fortunately has enough air to breath until the tide goes out and the storm passes. In the meantime, a dolphin comes to keep me company so I can overcome my fear. We talk to each other and play together. I'd throw in some fantasy daydreams. Finally, the dolphin tells me that it's safe to leave the cavern and to take a deep breath and hold onto its dorsal fin. Away we go! Before I know it, I'm safe back near the beach. When I look back to thank the dolphin, it's gone. I never see the dolphin again until many years later as an adult. It, once again, saves me from a boating accident, but this time, I get to thank it and we pledge our friendship forever. ~~~


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes Marie, you are right I do enjoy writing for children. I guess this could be because it is written as though spoken by a 10 year old girl, however I think it can also appeal to adults. Your proposed story sounds like an excellent idea for a children's story however and you should complete it for this challenge.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 23 months ago from South Africa

What a sad story! Just returning from a holiday at the coast, where I have seen memorial stones and plates for many who had lost their lives in the ocean, this story touches me even more.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading this Marie, I hope you enjoyed your holiday despite the sadness for those who lost their lives in the ocean. I too felt the sadness as I wrote this, and I am glad those feelings came through in the story. Thanks for your kind comment.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 23 months ago from USA

This was a great response to Ann's challenge. It reminds me of a summer I spent as a teen when several 14 year old in the same camp I was staying lost their lives in the water.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Flourish. Wow, really..that must have been one tragic Summer Camp. Sorry to hear it.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 23 months ago from England

What a great story, to say I wanted to read more says it all really, I could have carried on reading! wonderful stuff, and you did that painting proud! the feeling I got when I looked at the photo was depression, voted and shared! nell


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 23 months ago from Taos, NM

Beautiful story, and so very sad. How difficult to lose a twin. Your response to the photo/painting is wonderful and I can feel the emotions of Lilly pulling at my heartstrings. Excellent story for this writing challenge.


travmaj profile image

travmaj 23 months ago from australia

You have certainly done the challenge justice, excellent story, well expressed and so sad. A perfect story to accompany the painting.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 23 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hi John. What a sad but beautifully written story. You put your all into your writing. Interpretation of that picture led to a story that tugs at the heart. Thanks so much for sharing. Sharing too. . Blessings. Audrey.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you so much Nell. The greatest compliment a writer can get is for the readers to want the story to go longer. As soon as I saw the photo I felt a sense of sadness and this story resulted. Thanks also for the vote and share.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Suzette, it is sometimes a challenge to write a sad story like this, but it seemed to fit the painting, or at least what I saw. Thanks for your kind comment.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading this travmaj, I did my best. So glad it worked out ok.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I love these challenges Audrey, they seem to bring out my innermost feelings. Thank you also for sharing this and blessings back.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 23 months ago

Your story was told with great creativity and keep me engaged until the very end. It was sad but I still found it to teach one about life's trials and moving forward.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for the kind comment Dianna.

I am glad you enjoyed this sad story.


DDE profile image

DDE 23 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Hi Jodah what a wonderful write here. You certainly got my full attention. Voted up and beautiful.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading another of my hubs Devika. Glad you enjoyed this.


lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 23 months ago from Central Virginia

I clicked on this hub for its title. As a person who lives by their emotions, it was a natural choice. I did not realize it was part of the challenge. Even now, that seems insignificant somehow. This piece is beautifully written and triggered a plethora of emotions. It was coincidence that brought be to this piece but my decision to follow you will be deliberate. Voted up and awesome and beautiful too.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 23 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

What a touching comment Irc7815, I believe most things happen for a reason and have actually written hubs about coincidences that one has to question. Whatever led you to read this hub, I am thankful for it and for your conscious decision to follow me. I am now following you as well. Thank you for voting this up.


lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 23 months ago from Central Virginia

John, I agree about coincidence. It only exists as a figure of speech. lol


write-with-coffee profile image

write-with-coffee 22 months ago from Bangalore

Jodah, this was poignant yet beautiful. How sad for the twin left behind.

A very touching story.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you write-with-coffee. It would be very sad for any sibling left behind but a twin would be exceedingly difficult and sad. Glad you enjoyed.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 22 months ago from Wales

Oh John what a sadly beautiful story and one which I vote up,up and away!!! Great work and here's to many many more.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Eddy.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 22 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Eddy, thank you so much for reading this and I am glad you found it sad but beautiful. I appreciate the vote up. Have a great day yourself.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 14 months ago

John, this is an awesome story, I felt the pain of losing a twin and the self blame imposed, I felt the pain of the parents who lost a child.

This is awesome, voted that was and more, shared and pinned.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 14 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you once again Shyron. I was proud of the way this story turned out from Ann's photo prompt. Glad you could feel the emotions. I appreciate the vote up, share and pin.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 14 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hi Jodah - I read this hub twice now but never commented the first time, I guess. It is such a sad story but delves into how we may blame ourselves and the loss of a child. You developed the story so well and it was an easy read. It was suspenseful and made me want to keep on reading. Sharing. Blessings, Audrey


Jodah profile image

Jodah 14 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Audrey, your kind comment is much appreciated. It is one of my favourite stories that I have written.

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