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The Island Getaway: A Guest Post and Short Story by Massiel Zaragoza


Taking on the Challenge

A few weeks ago, I launched my book 45 Writing Prompts for Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Writers on Amazon for only $8.99. Included are 45 prompts writers can use to inspire their next short story along with 120 pages to begin writing straight away.


Well Massiel Zaragoza decided to take on the challenge! If that name sounds familiar it's because Massiel had her first appearance back in December 2021 during Author's Week. Her post, My Journey as a Bilingual Children's Book Author, was a great hit, and I couldn't wait to see what she brought to the table when it came to one of the prompts.


Since this was her first challenge, Massiel chose an Intermediate prompt which included these items:


Word: influence

Sentences: 1) He was the only member of the club who didn’t like plum pudding. 2) He was disappointed when he found the beach to be so sandy and the sun so sunny.

Characters: Damian

Word Count: 1000-1200


So, let's see how well Massiel did with her first challenge!

 

The Island Getaway

By Massiel Zaragoza


It was a week before the spring term started. For a group of young, university-aged Englishmen with the entire world ahead of them, there was no better recompense than the repose and serene indulgence that could only be obtained from the escape of travel, and no less than to a beautiful and secluded island far away from all of their mundane, adult responsibilities.


Mahe, the largest island of Seychelles, was a popular getaway for many university students from England. Damian, Charlie and Hugh were no exception, as they were eager to spend the last week of the year reveling in the enchantment of island living perhaps by laying on the beach, enjoying the nightlife or simply decompressing after an intense month of tedious term papers and grueling final exams.


“I’m chuffed to bits about this, mates!” Hugh cried out in excitement as he swung open the hotel room door, swiftly walked to the opposite side of the room and flung his luggage on top of the bed he claimed for himself. He proceeded to open his bag and sift through his belongings, pulling out his bright blue swimming trunks, a new pair of beach sandals and the potent sunblock he planned to slather all over his pale, freckled skin. He was determined to avoid the severe sunburn that often plagued him on extended visits to climate zones his body was not accustomed to.


“Check THIS out!” mouthed Charlie in surprise as he dropped his bag by the door and made his way to the small coffee table located in the center of the living area. “Welcome to the BLISS Hotel Seychelles,” he read excitedly as he picked a fresh strawberry from a silver tray and popped it into his mouth. “Look at all this food…” he said as he went through the complimentary gift basket positioned at the center of the table. The hotel presented one to all its guests upon arrival. “Did we die and go to heaven? Fruit, some cheese, a bottle of dessert wine and…CHRISTMAS PUDDING??? They must know we’re here from England!” Charlie laughed.


Damian finally made his way through the door, carrying his black travel duffel bag over his shoulder. He removed his glasses and placed them on the night table next to the bed he planned to take. He rubbed his eyes, exhausted from the ten-hour flight, and belted out a loud yawn before uttering, “I’ll have some of that punch, but you can toss the pudding outside for the stray dogs to eat.” He was the only member of the club who didn’t like plum pudding. His granny made one for the family every holiday. It was always as hard as a rock and tasted like sandpaper. He loved his granny to bits, but he learned to loathe any form of figgy pudding. Now, an adult, he could never bring himself to try it again.


“It’s not THAT bad!” protested Charlie. “Stop complaining about everything. It’s free food! You should give it a try. You might actually start liking it again. You’re always so quick to brush things off.”


“Trust me, I’ve tried that crap TOO many times in this lifetime, '' Damian snapped back. “Besides, don’t judge me because I have good taste in food while you still eat like you’re four," Damian scoffed as he grabbed the throw pillow on the bed and tossed it at Charlie. Charlie dodged the pillow successfully, causing it to bounce off an armchair and land on the carpeted floor.


“Let’s make haste, lads,” voiced Hugh. He was indisputably the most posh and entitled of the group, his speech always a bit flatulent and artificial for a young man his age. His eloquence garnered him a great deal of influence with others, who generally envied his privileged life. “I want to get to the beach before sundown.”


After a short walk outside of the resort, the young men arrived at the neighboring beach. Hugh and Charlie spotted three adjoining lounge chairs and promptly placed their belongings on the first before sprinting towards the water. Damian stayed behind, dusting off all of the sand that had already made its way to his sandals and the inside of his swimming trunks. He was disappointed when he found the beach to be so sandy and the sun so sunny. He almost immediately noticed his mind shifting from one negative thought to the next. Perhaps Charlie was right, he thought. Maybe he DID complain about everything. It seemed that no matter what he was doing, good or bad, he always found a fault. If he was overstressed from working too hard at school, he grumbled. If his meat wasn’t cooked perfectly medium rare every time he ordered it at a restaurant, he protested. If he’s on a much-needed vacation in a beautiful paradise with his best friends, he complained about the long flight, the cramped seats on the airplane and the fact that the items provided in the complimentary hotel gift basket weren’t exactly to his liking. The list could go on.


“Well, no more,” Damien whispered to himself as he laid back on the beach chair and shut his eyes. He was determined to enjoy himself this time. To relax and soak in the fun. He knew he needed to make the best of this week. He would soon finish his last term and he was planning on taking the Solicitors Qualifying Examination soon after. His father always wanted Damian to be a barrister. Damian wasn’t exactly sure that’s what he wanted, but he knew he wanted his father to be proud of him. So, being a barrister it was.


For now, he would shut his eyes and enjoy this quiet moment of relaxation. He would worry about the stress at the beginning of the term. Damian focused on his breathing. He could hear the ocean waves crashing at the distance, The sound of random murmuring, which he attributed to people sitting nearby, also attempting to enjoy their holiday.


Damian was just beginning to doze off when he felt a sudden tug on his arm. He awoke to see it was Hugh, glaring at him in sheer terror.


“What’s wrong?” asked Damian, perplexed and disoriented.


“We…” stammered Hugh. For someone as articulate as his friend, it was shocking for Damian to see Hugh struggle to find the words to explain what was happening.


“We…are going down,” Hugh finally said.


Damian immediately sat up in his chair and looked around, in search for more clarity than Hugh was offering at that moment. He blinked a few times to make sense of what he was seeing. Hoping to see the ocean in his line of sight, he was dumbfounded to see he was aboard the plane. The same passengers he had remembered seeing hours before were panic-stricken. Some of them fumbling to put on their oxygen masks with trembling hands. Others weeping and embracing their loved ones.


Struggling to find his own words, Damian glanced over one last time at his best friends, right before the plane plummeted from the sky.


 

Final Thoughts

How did you think Massiel did for her first challenge? I know I didn't see that twist end coming!


When I asked Massiel about her experience, she mentioned that even though it took her sometime to think of how to relate plum pudding and the beach, the process was great and she enjoyed it very much.


Go check out my new book 45 Writing Prompt for Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Writers if you haven't already and let me know what you think of the experience!


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