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Sudden Storm: Flash Fiction by Cam

Updated on December 17, 2016
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Chris has written more than 100 flash fiction/short stories.Working Vacation took 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

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Sudden Storm

The Channel is quiet today, just like it was a year ago. How can it be that a whole year has passed since I last walked in this sand? I used to come here nearly every day with my ten year old brother, Angus. He never minded hanging out with his big sister, Maddy. Over the last year, I’ve looked toward the water from our house and heard the breakers crashing onto the rocks during storms. The rumbling of thunder and the roaring of waves make me want to hide in my bed with blankets covering my head like a flood, crying myself to sleep. I’ve cried and slept a lot since that day.

I don’t want to remember, but isn’t that why I’ve finally come back? The water was so still and the skies so clear, I decided to take our little sailboat out for the afternoon. The Channel is narrow at the beach, but grows wider until it opens up into the sea. The sailboat was moored a short distance from shore. We rowed out in a small dinghy that we kept on the beach, beyond the reach of the tide.

As I said, I’ve slept a lot this last year, but my mother is coping with things a bit differently. I do the grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning. Mother stays in her room with the telly turned up and a bottle tipped up. She even stayed in there on my seventeenth birthday. It’s her way. I leave her to it.

The two of us climbed into the sailboat and raised the sail. There was hardly enough breeze to move us, but eventually we were out into the Channel, basking in the sun. There were no other boats in sight, so I drifted off to sleep. Angus spent the time fruitlessly dangling a fishing line over the edge of the boat.

I don’t know how long I slept, but Angus finally woke me because he was worried about the clouds forming in the distance. They grew higher and higher like mountains rising out of the sea. I hoisted the sail and turned toward shore.

When the boat came about, the lighthouse on the beach was barely visible against the background of trees. The wind was only a breeze, barely disturbing the surface of the water, but it helped us make headway. I had lost track of time and our father would soon be home from working on the fishing boats. I hoped we’d be back on shore before he came to look for us.

The first peal of thunder was distant, but shook any confidence we had that we would reach shore ahead of the storm. The first wave to come over the stern soaked both of us and flooded the boat. The wind was building and driving us so hard that I had a difficult time controlling the boom and sail. Angus steered, but I could see the fear in his wide eyes. I shouted to him that we were going to make it, but the words were swept away by wind and water.

Source

The boat tipped to the starboard. Two hands clutched the gunwale, and our father pulled himself out of the small skiff he had been rowing and into the sailboat. He tumbled onto the flooded floor and struck his shoulder hard against the mast. I helped him onto the bench where he hugged me with his injured arm and Angus with the other. Father took down the sail, pulled out two oars and struggled against the wind and waves. I could tell his shoulder was hurting, but what else could we do?

I don’t know why Angus stood up. It could be that he wanted to help with the rowing, or maybe he was disoriented with fear. The wave took him so fast, it was as if he had disappeared into the air. My father grabbed two life preservers and was over the edge before I could scream my brother’s name.

I watched my father dive and resurface, time and time again. He had lost the life preservers, and I threw him the floatation ring attached to the boat with a rope. My aim was poor, and the ring flew wide of its mark. I pulled it back and threw it again, but my father was gone.

Source

I stand here and look at the place where my father and brother died. I remember every anguishing, torturous detail, memories that have up to now been eclipsed by a storm cloud of guilt and shame. I’ve told myself that it wasn’t my fault, but I know that isn’t true. I was sixteen years old, and I knew about the sudden storms that could come thundering down the coast.

“Daddy, Angus, please forgive me. I love you.”

The words sound empty and taste bitter. Before I leave this place I’ll speak words that my father spoke to me when I was a little girl and to Angus after that. He quoted it like a poem, but I think it was an old folk song written for a son. Father would change it a little for me.

Dance to your Daddy, my little Maddy

Dance to your Daddy, my little one

Thou shalt have a fish and thou shalt have a fin

Thou shalt have a codlin when the boat comes in

Thou shalt have haddock baked in a pan

Dance to your Daddy, my little one

A good memory to leave with. It’s dinner time, and I'll ask mother to join me. I miss her too.

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    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 23 months ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Essie, Thank you. I'm glad you found the story touching. I appreciate the vote.

    • EsJam profile image

      Essie 23 months ago from Southern California

      Another good story.....touching....voted up! :)

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 23 months ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Hey, Cam! Thanks for that---you didn't have to say that. We comment on your hubs to honor you, not to fish for compliments. But thank you. Frankly, I was starting to think that story of mine was, perhaps, a bit off the mark.

      But you produce real, professional-quality literary work. You are one of my top five favorite writers on this site. Frank Atanacio is one... and I forgot the other three!

      Take it easy! :)

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 23 months ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      wingedcentaur, Thanks for all you said. You know, I think someone did a damn fine job writing about a 7'4" behemoth of a woman basketball player/women's prison queen. Yes, it is a challenge to pick main characters you are totally different from. Right now my writing is one experiment after another. What works, what doesn't? Thanks again for reading.

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 23 months ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Hey, Cam.

      I voted this 'up' and 'beautiful.' You know, I do believe this is the first time I've ever voted a hub 'beautiful.' But it is; you did a good job of getting into the head of someone that is not like you: a young woman. But that is what good writers do: imagine what it is like to be other kinds of people, like actors in a way, I've always thought.

      The part about her "missing" her mother too (who is still alive---sort of) was particularly poignant.

      Take it easy.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      So beautifully shared ...it seemed as if I were caught up in the moments as they were unfolding.

      there seems to be an expression of an experience that has a ring of truth to it....

      Well done...

      Angels are on the way to you.

      Voted up+++ and shared ps

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      The mood was captured perfectly. Enough said.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Suhail.....and your dog.....:) I appreciate your heartfelt response to my story. Yes, it was emotional, even as I was writing it, I could sense the tragedy. Thank you both for stopping by and reading.

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      Suzette Walker suzettetaos 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      What a sad story so beautifully told. It was so suspenseful and I was caught up in the suspense. I can see why the mother is so broken and poor Maddy probably feels so responsible for her mother as much as her father and brother. But, there was nothing she could do - she did about all she could to help the situation. Really fine story to add to Ann's challenge. All the responses are so different yet all so creative and unique.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Wow, what an emotional story! I almost thought it happened to someone near and dear to me. Hats off on coming up with this on Hubber's Challenge.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Liesl5858, thank you for the very special compliment. Thanks for the visit.

    • liesl5858 profile image

      Linda Bryen 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Chris, I love the way you interpreted Ann's painting in a story. You are really a very good and inspiring writer. Thank you. Voted up.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Paula, I'm glad you liked the story. and thanks for the votes and sharing. I'm jumping in to to a couple of more challenges. I've got the lid of one this afternoon.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Harishprasad, I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Thank you for the encouraging words .

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      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Cam......You have an abundance of creativity and imagination! What a fabulous story you've presented your readers. I'd say you've certainly been successful in responding to Ann's challenge. I truly enjoyed reading this, even though my heart was broken in the end......UP+++pinned & tweeted

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 2 years ago from India

      Chris, I got to read you through Ann's challenge, I'm so thankful to her. Sudden Storm that you created as a response is very creative and fantastic and all the characters are so memorable that even when I was finished reading the story, their activities resonated in my mind. The mom's character is awesome. I also love your fascinating narrating style. Great and wonderful response ! Voted up and shared.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Romeos Quill, Thank you for stopping by and reading my story. I'm still blown away by the quality of your poetry. Sorry about the sadness element regarding my story, but I suppose that's the effect I was aiming for. I look forward to seeing you around on HubPages.

    • Romeos Quill profile image

      Romeos Quill 2 years ago from Lincolnshire, England

      Quite a dramatic and striking portrayal of life at sea cam8510 ( Chris ) which read very well and could relate to this kind of tragedy living on the coast. My old dad used to be a trawlerman and he lost a few pals washed overboard in the choppy waters of the North Atlantic.

      The sadness of the little girl's memories lingered long after the story finished.

      Thanks for a great read and the marvellous commentary you left on my reply to Ann's challenge.

      All the Best;

      R.Q.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      The Stages of Me, Thank you for reading my story and commenting so beautifully. There have been so many wonderful stories in response to annart's challenge. This has been fun. Thanks for stopping by.

    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      The Stages Of ME 2 years ago

      Great tragic story, so emotionally felt in the read. The sea is a beautiful and tortuous thing at the same time. It has brought so many across it to new places and has claimed many along the way. It's a wonder beyond words of joy and grief combined. You have brought us to a reality of its existence. Loved one's are lost so quickly when it's angry, however, even though the loss is quick, the imprint lasts forever in the weight of those left behind. Great story

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Jamie, Thank you for taking time to read and comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 2 years ago from Reno NV

      Great read. Thank you for the opportunity to get a glimpse of this fiction. Jamie

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Jennifer, thank you for reading and commenting on this story. I've been attempting to become more of a shower than a teller in my fiction, and it has been a difficult transition for me. I'm glad Maddy's grief came across as I intended.

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      Jennifer Arnett 2 years ago from California

      Chris, this is a lovely contribution to Ann's challenge and an interesting view into the different methods of grief. Everyone grieves differently and you have captured that with this family. The guilt felt by the daughter holds so much weight.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      There were lots of great stories written in the challenge. I'm glad I was able to take part.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      I changed the title. The other one seemed a little boring.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Thanks for reading and commenting on my response to annart's challenge. We did have an awesome prompt in that painting by annart.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Genna, Thank you so much for reading AND commenting AND sharing. I haven't had a commenter for over 40 hours on this story, so I really do appreciate it. It is a sad story. That is simply how the painting impacted me at first glance, so I went with it.

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      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Such a tragic story, Cam. I‘m sitting here with tears in my eyes. This is so beautifully and compellingly written! And it truly portrays the spirit in Ann’s painting. Voted up ++ and shared.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      The girl in the prompt painting, along with the surreal surroundings certainly do have an emotional effect. A writer could focus on the setting of the sun as an image of the end of life. Or the whole scene could inspire writing about beauty, love and life. The painting is very versatile in that way.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Michelle, thank you for being such a faithful reader and for taking time to comment on my story.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Hi Faith Reaper, It is interesting that Ann's painting, which is so beautiful, is leading to such emotional stories of this sort. But writers have to express whatever feelings are drawn out. I appreciate you stopping by to comment. And thanks for the vote and the sharing too. I hope we have the opportunity to read your interpretation of Ann's painting......:)

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Great writing, heart-rending and painful. Loved your take on Ann's painting.

      Creative and well-written.

      Voted up +++ tweeting and pinning

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Hi Jo, I'm working on my next hub and saw that you just posted on my story. Thanks for those very encouraging words. Nice to see you.

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Chris, you've really captured the feel of Ann's painting. When I look at the painting I can feel the tragedy of that awful day unfolding in the girl's mind once again. You painted a sorrowful picture and you did it beautifully. Well done!

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      michelle 2 years ago

      i think this is your best work so far, chris. excellent job!!

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Randi, when I looked at Ann's painting, this story began to immediately form in my mind. I had it down on paper, rough draft of course, within an hour. Thanks for reading. I'm glad it struck an emotional chord.

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      Randi Benlulu 2 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Intense and tragic. Beautifully done, incredibly sad.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Janet, I'm glad you connected with this story on an emotional level. For me, that is what writing is all about. Thanks for reading and responding.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      John, thank you for reading this story. It is sad, tragic and it brought tears to my eyes as I was writing. That sort of thing doesn't happen to me often. You are very kind with your compliments. Please, please write a story for Ann's challenge. I love your stories and look forward to reading.

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      Janet A 2 years ago

      It was so good Chris, and I hate reading tear jerkers. Made me think about so many things. Felt like I was there wishing I could reach out to Maddie.

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      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Wow Cam, this was heart wrenching. Well written by a master story teller. I saw Ann's beautiful painting and am considering attempting a story. I know this is not a competition but you have set the bar so high. Well done. Voted up.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Gawth, glad you liked it.

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      Ron Gawthorp 2 years ago from Millboro, Virginia

      I liked it.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Ruby, Thanks for the kind words. I really hope you are able to write something for the challenge. There is no specific deadline, so if something comes to mind, go for it.

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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Oh Cam, this is so sad but beautifully written. I almost felt the wave as it took Angus away. I looked at the picture and could not come up with anything when Ann gave the challenge...

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Thank you Becky, I'm glad you were able to read the story. Thanks for stopping by.

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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Purplepassion1, I'm glad you liked the story. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Frank, "wow" is plenty. Thank you.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Ann, thank you for the opportunity to offer my interpretation of your painting. There is so much to work with in that image.

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      Becky Katz 2 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      So sad, and so well written.

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      Joanne Lombardo 2 years ago from Prescott AZ

      I loved it, write on.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      wow.. this was so good Cam.. all I can type out is wow

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      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      You've done so well with this, Chris. I was crying by the end (even though I'd already seen it!). Your writing is powerful; you've not only painted an emotional picture with your words, we're right there with you in the video of that sea tragedy.

      This is a brilliant interpretation of my image. Thank you so much for rising to the challenge.

      Ann

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Ann has provided a painting, her own, as the prompt for this challenge. I expect to see lots of emotion in the stories. Thanks for reading, Eric.

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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well if sad was what you were going for,, I felt the dark creep in in the very beginning. Excellently written and tragic.

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