Cool Water

I mentioned I’m editing an anthology of short fiction just now and the below piece I wrote after listening to someone with a totally debilitating condition. I’m not sure about it. It feels like it needs more but what? More backstory about Brian and what his life has been like, more about Prettie? The lake? What happens next? All of the above?

As ever I’d welcome ideas in the comments

‘It’s neither.’

Brian wrinkled his nose. ‘That’s daft.’

She didn’t try and hide the sigh in her voice. ‘It’s just what the bumph says. Neither hot water – which means trouble, nor cold – which means depressing. This is just, you know, perfect.’

‘I still don’t see how.’

‘Try it. You’ll see.’ Prettie reached out a hand to the reluctant teen, whose arms were folded hard across his scarred chest.

‘Sure it won’t hurt?’

‘Come on.’ She indicated her legs. ‘See, I’m fine.’ She held his terrified gaze, imploring him to believe her. Though why would he? He’d been let down so often by so many others, all well-meaning. Why believe the hype?

No one could explain it, after all. It wasn’t some unique combination of salts that eased everyone’s pains. The Earth’s crust wasn’t especially thin here, no weird magnetic field, no unexplained seepage of a previously undiscovered radiation. But everyone – even those at the most sceptical end of the spectrum – admitted the lake did something. It eased them, soothed all pain, let them breathe.

‘You know what water does to me, Prettie.’

She did. She’d heard the screams, knew what the medics said about his ultra-fine dermis. ‘It won’t. This is special. Everyone says so.’

‘But they don’t have this.’ Once again he waved at his tortured flesh.

‘You’re not unique and this is just right.’

‘Yeah like Goldilocks made it, yeah?’

The terrified boy, with the damaged body and crippled mind stepped uneasily forward, tensing. Prettie held her breath, so proud of him.

As promised the waters lapped his calves, he felt easier, relaxing with each cautious shuffle forward.

‘I told you. These waters are special.’

Brian looked up, a grin splitting his face, something Prettie thought she would never again see.

‘This is so cool.’

And for the visual amongst you…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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21 Responses to Cool Water

  1. A great story. I like it. By the way, your flowers are more lined up than the Yeoman Warders on the Queen’s birthday. 😉 Thank you, and best wishes, Michael

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  2. I like this the way it is Geoff

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  3. LucciaGray says:

    I had to read it twice, but it’s late and I’m a bit tired! First time I was confused. Second was great! A happy ending to a rare problem.

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  4. I’d let Dog walk me anywhere!

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  5. I would make it a shared disability, as below, but in your words, not mine. No expansion needed!

    This is just, you know, perfect. It’s medium. The perfect medium!

    She indicated her legs, which were equally as scarred.

    She’d heard the screams, as she, herself, had screamed.

    knew what the medics said about “their” ultra-fine dermis.

    Hope this is helpful.

    Incidentally, I tried to order Dead Flies…. and received this:

    We regret to inform you that we have been unable to source the following item:

    Le Pard, Geoff “Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle”

    Our supplier has informed us that this item is no longer available. This item has now been cancelled from your order.

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  6. willowdot21 says:

    Geoff the piece is perfect, anymore and you’d lose its beauty . It so very touching. Leave it be. 💜

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  7. willowdot21 says:

    Reblogged this on willowdot21 and commented:
    Another story from Geoff’s soon to be anthology. A touching tale …plus a photo of Dog. 💜

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  8. Sadje says:

    I think it works very well. You’ve conveyed the backstory very well with your references.

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  9. I agree with you Geoff.
    There were places I would like to experience a bit more of.
    Could you deepen his dread of trying this; can we hear his thoughts maybe. Why should this be different than last week’s trial with xxxxx. Did he have to remove a super soft pancho that was protecting him from the sun and pulling it across his shoulders hurt anyway?
    I wanted more of the slow feelings of the lake bottom that should have hurt his feet but instead …..
    Did the water only help what it touched or did it spread and did he dip his hands in then try to drizzle the water on a elbows nearly raw from being leaned on? Could Prettie come to him, overjoyed at his sounds of relief and comfort to drizzle some down his back?
    Maybe he could wonder just how far this magic, this miracle go?

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  10. arlingwoman says:

    Well, everyone seems to like this–as do I, but I want a bit more. As Peter noticed, Prettie seems to have something going on as well and if she doesn’t, then I’d like to know the relationship–why are they there together and why is she in a position to encourage the way she does. And of course, what is this magical place? What’s led them there? I do like the miraculous effect of the waters. But this may be just an overhear conversation, in which case, the narrator’s own situation might throw some light on the waters, etc. But, again, I’m not sure whether this is flash, short-short, or a short story, but it feels like a piece of something larger to me. Doesn’t mean you have to tell it, though.

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  11. arlingwoman says:

    And Dog is as fabulous as the flowers…

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  12. Remembering that this is a short story and benefits from something left to the reader’s imagination the only change I would make is a reference to Prettie’s scars.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I loved the story, Geoff, and felt such relief when he stepped into the water. I was a little confused at the beginning though as to what was happening. You’ve got some great feedback in the comments. I would just suggest “grounding” us a little at the beginning, something to anchor us. Perhaps a couple lines of description after the dialog starts. I didn’t know they were outside at a lake, for example. I didn’t know where they were or what was going on until almost the end. The focus of the story, it seems to me, is Brian’s experience, so perhaps get inside his head and body and give us his sensory experience. Hope that helps.

    And I just finished your memoir about your mom. What a fun, touching, and beautiful book. I help my parents (they’re in their 80s and 90s), and I could relate to So Many of your anecdotes. Shook my head, laughed, cried. I’ll get a review done in a day or two and share on my blog when I wrap up June’s reads. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks so much Diane. Good idea, thanks. I don’t know about you but if there’s one recurring issue I have in my writing it’s fixing the setting for the reader. My take is that the setting is so clear in my mind I forget to tell the reader!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I think I needed more of an opening, a lead in to the lake. I wanted to see it, its size and color, smell its smell. “Crippled mind” was maybe a tad off for me–maybe something that speaks to why his mind has suffered, as a result of his injuries? Nice work, Geoff. And beautiful flowers and dog!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Not sure about the word crippled, in what way, how, perhaps its a personal thing but not sure the word belongs in this, perhaps another word? Damaged body, by nature, accident, again, probably personal preference but I think there are far better ways to describe how you see him. Just opinions, it is your work and if you are happy with it then that’s ok, good luck 😀

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