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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Park (10/25/12)

TITLE: A Real Paradise
By Jack Taylor



I stretched out like a hibernating bear after a long winter. The faintest touch of a breeze brushed over my cheeks. My own real paradise stretched all around me.

The translucent sea was a mirror broken by shadowed white-caps in the first wisps of dawn’s light. Silhouetted boatmen were poling their way between bobbing dhows at anchor.

A solitary tourist stood in the receding tide – perhaps caught in the ambivalence of awaiting the glories of a new sunrise and wishing that a new day would never come. Knowing this was the last day in Africa.

The stillness of a morning drew out a single hawk which glided over broad white sandy beaches on the slightest of breezes. A pinkened cloud tornadoed across a pale blue sky as clouds displayed their bi-polar natures – half-dark, half-white.

Coconut palms stood like stately courtiers welcoming the sovereign of light. Building lights dulled and winked off as their efforts became redundant. The footprints of a jogger going by were slowly filled with water and the sand was left with no traces of the day’s pioneer.

I closed my eyes and listened. The lapping of wavelets against boats. The shrill whistle of a guard greeting the jogger. The laughter of the boatmen casting their nets and probing the sandbar for shells. The calls of children racing across the sand – not wanting to waste a second, or any of the energy they’d saved up for these moments.

The first bird calls – tee-wee tee-wee – chir-chir-chee.

Cats stretching, calico, tabbies, blacks, greys – endless felines preparing for a day of scavenging, begging and guarding against the hoteliers nightmare – rats. Monkeys begin their invasion along with the baboons. The baboons charge the yellow trash bins and rip at plants and coconuts. The monkeys claim the rooftops and scale the ceiling beams to spy out unsuspecting sun bathers and breakfasters making an early appearance.

The watchman, with his wrist-rocket slingshot, hadn’t arrived yet, so they are bold and daring in their snatches. Soon their day will revert to hide and seek – dodge and run – coordinated distraction and stealth attacks.

Indigo butterflies, splashed joyfully with yellow highlights, valiantly flap their way through lush tropical gardens.

The heat begins its healing work, like an expert masseuse, as it seeps into the muscles and bones and lays out row after row of bronzing subjects. Books are common fare here among the older gatherers. The younger expend their energy in the pool where they create their own underwater worlds and games with new found friends who share the same wonders of life and liberty.

Hawkers prepare their wares, aggressively flogging camel rides, ebony key chains, bracelets, carvings, shells, brightly patterned Kitange cloths, glass bottom boat rides, and any assortments of trinkets, crafts, and services.

The pace is slow- the life is easy – the clock ticks by all too quickly between the dawns, the meals, the dusks and the nightlife that uncorks the dormant energy of the day just done. Endings come too quickly.

Rainbow ribboned colours shine against brilliant white sand flowing into beige shallows, aquamarine channels and indigo deeps, all punctuated by ceaseless whitecaps under the sweeping canvas of the purest of cloudless blue skies.

Greens dance their own kaleidoscopic tale of lushness. Emeralds and jades, aquamarines and limes.

I watch a couple of young friends being separated by their parents. Last hugs. Eyes lock. Arms embrace in a death clinch. Pieces of heart tear and remain behind as bodies are pried apart. Loss overwhelms the upcoming adventure’s excitement. Clouded eyes release their showers over quivering cheeks and chins. Out of body experiences as fingers are unhooked from soul-mates and sobs escape in words of protest. Last looks. Last wave. Last glimpse. Gone.

I know the feeling of those two young girls. Saying goodbye to what you cherish.

The video promo ended. I slipped back into my boots and tugged my security hat back into place. I turned off the DVD, shut down the fan, and stepped out into the catastrophe of the carnage left by the hurricane.

The peace of God’s paradise on screen was so different than the power of God’s breathe unleashed in the park around me. Trees lay shattered and uprooted. Mud flowed freely. The wind tore at my face.

I watched a child’s kite in its death throes hanging from a sign that was bent at a forty-five degree angle. The words on the sign were simple. “Welcome to Paradise Park.”

One day it’ll all be paradise.

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Member Comments
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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/05/12
This is a fascinating story. Some of your descriptions were spectacular. It would have been interesting to see more of the MC's reactions to things. You may want to be careful with phrases like this: Greens dance their own kaleidoscopic tale of lushness. Emeralds and jades, aquamarines and limes.
It's a fine line between showing and purple prose and not always easy to balance it. I think the ending was a touch of genius and I'm not often surprised by the ending. I was eager to see what the conflict would be in this idyllic story and then you introduced the hurricane and the story took on a totally different vibe. Well done.
Ellen Carr 11/07/12
I enjoyed your story and descriptive writing. I was wondering where the 'park' theme fitted and then it came in, at the end. I was surprised to find that the scene was only on screen. The contrast with the devastated park was stark. It seemed to me that you changed tenses here and there rather than sticking to past or present tense. And, perhaps your extremely rich descriptions were just a little too 'rich' and therefore a tiny bit overwhelming in such a short passage of writing. (Just my opinion though)Well done.
Karen Pourbabaee 11/07/12
I agree you have some superb descriptions adding a lot of visuals to your piece,but to keep the pace moving it might help to intersperse them with the MC's thoughts or body language that would contrast with the scenes and leave the reader wondering until that surprise ending. Good work!