Will Write 4 Food: Winning Stories April 2011
First Place: One By Dava White
It looked like the pictures in travel magazines. Water so clear, I could hardly tell how far it was to the bottom. I waded in. It was cooler than I’d expected, but it was exhilarating. Having never been this close to a waterfall, I decided to go upstream. I kept close to the river bank which was lined on each side by lush foliage. Although I couldn’t name many of the plants, they added brilliant hues of orange, yellow, and red to the dense blanket of green.
I climbed up on a boulder about fifty feet from the cascading water. The spray peppered my body and awakened every nerve. Excited by the beckoning sensation, I jumped in. The current swirled around me and dragged me toward the base of the fall. Kicking hard, I swam away downstream.
I made it back to camp, a make-shift tent and a small fire pit. The grumble from my stomach couldn’t be ignored. I pulled up the fishing net, made from pieces from my wedding dress. One fish, a perfect meal for one. I wrapped the fish in a banana leaf and placed it over the fire.
I sat down on a nearby rock and traced the edges of my wedding ring. “If only Rick was still here.” I wiped away the tears. Our perfect honeymoon had turned disastrous when the engine of our two passenger plane failed. Rick insisted I take the only parachute.
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Honorable Mention: Passage By Laura A. Long
Jake tethered his knapsack to the raft beached on the rocky stream bank and squinted into the brightening dawn, listening for the baying dogs. Nothing yet. Last night, he had eluded the search party upstream, crisscrossing the swift, icy creek to cover his scent. He had pressed on until the moon rose, huddled sleeplessly on a narrow cliff above the creek, and then continued before dawn to find the abandoned dugout where Panther Creek flushed with fury into the Little Knox River. There, months ago, he’d hidden the raft that he had fashioned to ride the Little Knox through West Virginia to the Ohio, the West, and freedom.
Jake splashed the icy water on his face, drying with yesterday’s shirt. The clear creek reflected his skin’s carmel color. “You’s the shade of burnt sugar frostin’,” Maddie, the cook at Henson’s plantation house, liked to say. Jake was banking on his light complexion – visible evidence of generations of Henson miscegenation – to give him passage, just as sure as the raft.
Suddenly, a canoe emerged out of the mist-shrouded river, and a stranger stepped onto the bank. Spotting Jake in a frozen crouch next to the raft, the man called, “Howdy, friend. Seen a nigra around here this mornin’? A search is out.”
Jake sucked in a long breath. “Ain’t seen a soul. Been fishin’ the Little Knox a couple of days.”
“Well, then, keep an eye out. Handsome reward.”
The canoe pushed off, heading back upstream. Praise God! The first pass.