She turned, startled by the sudden shout, her feet splashing in the crystal-clear water that flowed around her ankles.
A man was standing on the bank — at least, she supposed it was a man. It was hard to tell beneath the bumblebee costume that covered him from head to foot, like the kind worn by mascots at football matches. A pair of long antennae bobbed crazily from his head, and two enormous white eyes stared emptily at her above a fixed bee-like grin. A badge splashed across the front of the costume read ‘Huell’s Honey — It’s The Bee’s Knees!’.
“Hey!” the bee repeated, pointing a finger at her. “What d’you think you’re doing? Get away from there! It’s dangerous!”
“It’s fine,” she replied, attempting to calm him. “I’ve done this a hundred times before.”
“Can’t you read the sign?” the bee demanded. He gestured at a large sign nearby that declared this stretch of river to be EXTREMELY DANGEROUS due to RAPID CURRENTS.
“I can read,” she said defensively. “I learned a couple of years ago.”
“Then what are you doing?” If the bee had a face, it would have been red. He did a little dance, torn between the desire to rush forward and drag her back, and the knowledge that bee costumes and life-saving did not generally go together. “You know a kid drowned here?”
“I didn’t drown,” she muttered.
“I said she didn’t drown!” She rolled her eyes and turned back to the rushing river, bending her knees, ready to dive in.
“Stop!” The bee edged nearer, hands outstretched, pleading with her. “Come on! You don’t have to do this! You’re young! You’ve got your whole life ahead of you!”
“I know,” she called over her shoulder. She visualized the dive: the leap, the graceful spin, the splash as she cut through the cold clear water. And then—
A hand grabbed her arm, nearly jerking her off her feet. The bee had made up his mind and decided her safety was more important than his own, and now he was staggering around in the shallows in a clumsy attempt to drag her to shore.
“Don’t – do – this!” He bellowed. “You’re not helping anyone! There are people who love you, don’t you get that?”
“Let go of me, you freak!” She struggled against the hand that held her, trying to slip away, but the bee was strong and he would not let her go.
“No!” He shouted, half in fury and half in fear. “I’m not going to let you do this! I’m not going to let you ruin your life!”
With a final wrench she managed to free herself, making a desperate leap for the water and landing with a clumsy splash. At the same instant she exploded into a billion tiny pieces of diamond glitter that showered down into the water, and the final thing the soaked bee-man heard as the glitter was swept away by the roaring current was a whisper like the sound of sunlight through ripples:
“The Dive” is the fifth installment in a writing challenge that passes prompts from one in-house author to the next. The challenge? Authors are limited to only a 1,000 words or less. Can you guess the prompt given to Matthew Wainwright? He was challenged by Stephanie Collins who wrote the forth installment, “Marry Ann Cotton“, and her prompt to Matt was a collection of words– “A river, some glitter, and a large, angry bumblebee.” How do you think he did?
Matthew has declared Heather Eagar to be our next story prompt craftsman. Oh Heather! Lookie what you have! Your prompt is “Tell a story that begins at the end and ends at the beginning.”