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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Enter (02/27/06)

TITLE: Whisper of the Mangroves
By Amy Michelle Wiley


The whisper was most insistent on days like this, when the sun was dipping near the horizon and the full moon already climbing the sky. The deep trails of the mangrove trees beckoned, enticing, Entrar. Enter and discover our secrets.

Each day Jol joined his father fishing in the Mexican Manialtepec Lagoon, bordered by mangroves. The trees grew tightly together, their long trunks rising out of the water, leafy branches mingling to provide the dense groves. But here and there an animal trail would make a slight opening. Each one they passed whispered to Jol in a language that even he did not quite know.

Today, today Jol was answering that call. Anticipation cut through him even as his oars cut through the green of the water. The deep burping sound of the thin black cormorants echoed around him as he paddled far into the winding lagoon. Nests of Wide-Billed Herons filled the trees, the heavy weight of termite nests covering the trunks below them.

Then he reached it, this pathway that whispered the loudest. The sun was hovering above the horizon, a red path streaming across the lagoon. The water at the mouth of the mangrove tunnel danced with flecks of red among the deep blue and green.

For a minute Jol thought the boat would not fit. Then he was in, bits of the sky peeking through the branches, tangles of vines and trunks all around him, rustling with the movement of the birds.

The tunnel opened wider. He felt suddenly that he was in a tiny cathedral, created especially for him by the hand of the Creator.

He clambered out of the boat and balanced on two spindly mangrove trunks. Turning his head upward, he let his soul open to the Creator. Here, far from civilization, surrounded by nature, Jol felt more of a connection to God then he had ever felt before.

The bits of sky had darkened to a royal blue when Jol slipped back into the boat. The tunnel led beyond the cathedral, though he had a bit of a time forcing his boat into the opening. It was challenging work to weave his way further into the grove, and the growing darkness did not help. But still the mangroves called to him, enticing him.

A long shadow moved across the water in front of him, and Jol felt the first tingle of fear. The boa constrictor paused briefly to eye the boat, and then disappeared among the roots.

Jol shook off the seriousness and paddled deeper into the grove. The path twisted and turned in a delightful way. After a bit it narrowed even more, and the boat would go no farther. An idea crept into his head and Jol hesitated. But he pushed the common sense away and slipped over the edge of the boat.

The water was cold here and Jol shivered, unused to cold swimming. Roots grabbed at his legs. Promising himself he wouldnt go out of sight of the boat, Jol moved forward, but when he turned, he found that the boat was already lost among the darkness. Night had fallen in earnest now.

Suddenly the water churned in front of Jol. A dark shape moved, and Jol found himself facing the consequences of his own foolishness. He did not stop to verify that it was a crocodile, but turned swiftly back toward the boat.

That is, he thought he was headed back to the boat. Surely he should have been there by now. Jol wondered then if the whisper had not been so innocent. The whole place seemed sinister, bent on his destruction. His breath came fast.

Dear Lord, save me from my foolishness. Help me find the boat.

A faint splash echoed behind him, and Jol wondered if he would die out here in the middle of the mangroves. Then he bumped into the boat. With his head. Hard.

Somehow he managed to grab it, spluttering hard. Rolling himself into it, he lay shivering on the bottom. The moon crept into his field of vision, bright and peaceful. Thank You.

As Jol passed back through the cathedral, he knew that he would return. Next time he would be wiser. He would stay in the boat.

The water glowed with green phosphorescence where his paddle disturbed the water as he entered the lagoon. He turned back toward the opening of the tunnel, answering the familiar whisper.

Ill be back.

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This article has been read 1327 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amanda D'costa03/07/06
Beautiful and very artistic. Your imagination amazes me. Lovely. A good write!
James Clem 03/07/06
Excellent description. I cannot imagine what would cause Joel to decide to get out of the boat. Wonderful title.
Rachel Rudd 03/09/06
Wow...what a story. You swept me into the character and kept me waiting in suspense for the plot's development....well-written!
david grant03/09/06
A terrific travel piece, beautiful, with just enough compelling action, to keep me exploring the cavern with Joel.
I like the where he stood up and let it all loose for his creator. Boy, would love that opportunity!

A winner! Indeed!

david grant03/09/06
A terrific travel piece, beautiful, with just enough compelling action, to keep me exploring the cavern with Joel.
I like the where he stood up and let it all loose for his creator. Boy, would love that opportunity!

A winner! Indeed!

Venice Kichura03/10/06
All I can is WOW, Amy!
Your excellent use of descriptions never ceases to amaze me...& to think you wrote this on vacation! You're an inspiration to me!
Val Clark03/10/06
A beautiful, literary start to an enticing story. Great description gave me a real sense of place. One hint: you could increase the tension for the reader by keeping the sentences when he is escaping from the croc really short. yeggy
Jan Ackerson 03/10/06
You did a great job of putting your reader right there. Your words were as thick as the dense jungle, and I mean that in a good way. You chose exactly the right way to write this evocative piece.
Deanna Wessel03/10/06
Beautiful descriptions...felt like I was there. I'm often moved to tears by sunsets-on-the-water. So, your vivid word pictures brought fantastic images to my mind's eye. Thanks for sharing!
Lynda Schultz 03/10/06
Terrific. Reminds me of something foolish I once did in a boat in Costa Rica. I like the way you expressed the negative side of the positive, but added the "I'll be back" to reinforce that "positivity" of the experience.
Shari Armstrong 03/10/06
A wonderful story - great discriptions -enjoyed it - as usual :)
Suzanne R03/11/06
It's like a travelogue with a bit of thriller combined - I'd love to see it on a big screen with appropriate music in the background ... the beautiful, classical, calm music, the drums and suspenseful music etc etc!
Jesus Puppy 03/11/06
wow... every good thing to be said has been said already... it leaves me speechless.. Well done once again.. ;-)
T. F. Chezum03/11/06
Very well done. I cannot add anything to what's already been said.
Sally Hanan03/16/06
This one was in my top three when I was marking them last week, and the only thing that was hard to find a high mark for you for was what the point or message of the piece was. It was beautiful writing.
Beth Muehlhausen03/19/06
Amy, this is masterful writing! You are definitely gifted in bringing the reader into the moment. Your descriptions are perfect. I wondered if there would be another way to reference the boat besides using the word "boat" which kept repeating more and more frequently as the story progressed....maybe not. This is captivating and enticing and....awesome writing!!! God job, girl. :-)