The prompts for September 2020 were
Check out the Australian Writers Website to see who wins Furious Fiction this month.
Stevie and Nic’s Romance at Sea.
“Should we go inside?” Stevie asked “It’s starting to get cold. We don’t want to get sick, not now!”
“Wait a little longer? We can watch the sunset one last time.” Nic replied
“Stay here and I’ll get us a jacket. We can switch sides and watch the moon rise too.”
Nic liked that about Stevie. So thoughtful and romantic, sprinkling the world with loving-kindness wherever they went.
It was hard to believe they had met less than a month ago. Nic had first spied Stevie sitting in a full lotus position at the Yawn-Dawn Yoga Class. Decked out in white baggy pants, tight singlet and one of those stretchy bandana things that claim you can wear them fifteen different ways, Stevie was the epitome of stylish serenity.
Nic? Well, Nic couldn’t even hold tree pose for more than 15 seconds without a significant death wobble cascading the tree to king dancer to forward fold all with the grace of an elephant.
“Did anyone notice?” Nic asked themselves as they stayed head-down-bum-up in the only pose they knew they had mastered: downward dog.
Stevie had noticed. Yes, Stevie had certainly noticed Nic. Nic was so unsure of themselves. Their perky energy not harnessed or restrained, but bubbling over in a torrent of words as if they feared the silence. Feared silence and the thoughts it may bring.
When they had introduced themselves to each other, Nic started laughing.
“Haha we must have been made for each other! Stevie Nic,” Pointing from one to the other. “You know, like Stevie Nicks! The singer…” Their voice trailing off as they realised that Stevie had in fact, got the joke. Realising it wasn’t that funny and they were probably just making themselves look sillier by the second. Contrary to Nic’s fears, Stevie felt like they had scored the winning goal and found a potential life partner.
By coincidence, their 8-day cruise had been extended by another 14 days. The cruise company said the all-expenses-paid extension was a beyond their control. Many of the other passengers complained. For Stevie and Nic, it was a chance to cement their relationship even further. No point whinging, whichever way you sliced it they had more time to spend together. More time to discover if this holiday romance had hope once they were on land.
Stevie came back up on deck and broke Nic’s reverie. They put their jackets over their shoulders and kissed softly.
“Last day tomorrow,” Nic sighed.
“Yes, back to normal, well new normal anyway!”
“Yes, new normal.”
In the morning as they lined up to disembark they had to wait for the Medical Officer to stamp their forms.
COVID-SAFE in bold red letters.
This passenger has been isolated for 14 days and tested negative for COVID.
They walked gingerly down the gangway into a barrage of questions from the jostling media frenzy, “What was it like? How many people died?”
New normal indeed.
Gender ambivalent storytelling?
I am hoping it is a gender-ambivalent story and that Stevie and Nic could both be male or female or neither. The story is not about gender but about people making the best of a tough situation. It was a new experience for me to deliberately use nongendered pronouns to replace he/she and him/her. Some of that difficulty arises from it not being my usual form of speaking or writing and also because they/them frequently refer to a plural form.
I am not sure if I succeeded and this story was penned in the final few hours of the Furious Fiction’s competition window after I had tried to force Frankie onto a ship, then developed 3 other stories lines before hitting on the Stevie and Nic story. It’s not my best story, but I got it done!
497 words submitted at 20:15 on Sunday night.