Thursday, April 23, 2015

Creative Writing: Kangaroo Island

This week's creative assignment was to write a story involving sensory appeal. I came up with an idea almost immediately, but putting it on paper was more difficult than I'd imagined. In the end, I wrote the story as series of sketches.  

The Island

Day 1: The Ocean Cliff

Standing atop the cliff looking down toward the sea, Scott and Melissa looked with awe as they observed the sleek dark creatures glide and arc through the white-capped waves. Their dorsal-finned backs descending and surfacing like a musical composition in sync with the ocean. The couple stood transfixed as they observed this perfectly synchronized nautical dance. 

“Strange seeing them in the wild. So different from TV. We've only been here 20 minutes, and it's already better than we could have imagined,” Scott said half to himself as he tried to video the scene on his camera.

As the pair continued to look at the endless horizon, all they could see was a cloudless blue sky and a vast ocean that was punctuated by the dolphins rhythmically moving toward some unknown destination. As the dolphins vanished, only the din of the waves and an infrequent cry from a lone seagull remained. Scott and Melissa were at peace, a peace that would soon give way to flies.

Day 2: The Garden Cafe

How could the tour books and online blogs have neglected to mention the flies, thought Scott as he adjusted the net covering his face. The flies were the defining feature of this place. They would descend upon us like a squadron of military aircraft as soon as we left the hotel or car. They would get into our food, buzz around our eyes, and cover our clothes. Taking a short walk was annoying and eating outdoors was nearly unbearable. Yet, the Australians would merely shrug and when we complained.

As he sat with Melissa at a beautiful garden cafe, flies buzzing incessantly around them, Scott tried valiantly to shield his meal from the marauders. The charming woman who ran the place blithely said, “You should go to Alice Springs in the outback. I lived there for a bit, and there were so many flies that you had to shake your food before taking a bite.” 

Kangaroo Island, a place touted as Australia's untouched bushland, was Scott and Melissa's third stop on their second honeymoon. They'd loved Sydney and Melbourne, and had been looking forward to a tranquil place to relax. As it turned out, Kangaroo Island was neither tranquil nor inhabited with Kangaroos.

Day 3: The Beach Walk

Scott suddenly looked over at Melissa. “What's wrong?” Melissa asked, concerned at Scott's obvious distress.

“A fly flew into my mouth. I spit it out, and then it crawled away from the spit before it flew away,” he muttered. 

Melissa had no reply and reached tenderly over to swat away the dozens of flies that had settled on his back. They continued their walk along the pristine beach, trying to appreciate the beauty of the place through the mosquito netting that covered their faces. 

Day 4: At the Park

Watching from the air conditioned interior of the national park's visitor center, Scott saw a crowd of Japanese tourists sitting at patio tables. One could imagine they were all having animated conversations involving dramatic hand gestures. Except there were thirty or forty of them continually gesticulating, flaying their arms in a futile attempt to shoo away flies. They looked exhausted in the humid ninety degree heat. 

Though they were in the middle of a national park with exotic plants and animals in their unspoiled habitat, Scott and Melissa felt content to linger inside the visitor center's gift shop away from the flies.  

Day 5: Farewell

Scott looked down at the dry savannah landscape as the small plane took off from Kangaroo Island toward the mainland. It would be a short trip. As he glanced over at a dozing Melissa, he noticed a solitary fly sitting atop her nose. Were the flies following them? Oh my God, he thought, it was like a scene from The Birds. Should he swat it or let Melissa sleep? If the trip to Fly Island had taught him one thing, it was that for every fly you saw there were many, many more hiding and multiplying, just waiting.

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