"Sweet And Sour"
Her instructions were to: Describe briefly a lake or a backcountry mountain trail (in other words, a beautiful natural setting) as seen by a person who has just lost a parent in a sudden, unexpected death. The last time this narrator saw the parent, they argued violently. In your narrative do not mention the death, the parent, or the argument. Do not tell a story. Simply show us what the lake or forest or street looks like to someone under these circumstances. 500 words.
When I was small we used to vacation up at Squam Lake in NH. Those are some of my best memories but I also remember being terrified of the loons up there. That terror is nothing compared to how I would feel about losing one of my parents. I thought the loon was also an appropriate symbol because I would probably lose my mind if I lost my parents. So, without furthur ado, here is what I came up based on this very very difficult prompt:)
At dusk, a loon broke the water of Big Squam Lake. His slick black and white coat stained the ripples with incongruous contrast. It’s said that loons love shiny things. If they encounter a human they’re likely to gouge out the eyes first, fixated on the gleam. The teeth are next, depending on what condition they are in. This loon had recently killed at least three minnows devouring the meat along with the sheen of their scales.
The sun was setting now and the light made even the roughest rocks shimmer. The water slid off the loon’s back, eager to get away from his violence. The loon dove again, slicing the dark water, pretending to disappear, only to pierce the surface just as the turmoil had settled. A trout hung limply from his beak. The bird’s eyes glittered like garnets. The beak itself shone and dripped. Each drop sunk back into the wake as the loon made his way to a pine needled shore.
The yellowing sheaths of pine plants stuck to the bird’s flippers. He threw the trout to the ground with a thud. Dander of the wooded beach exploded upon the impact of the big fish. It’s dead eyes no longer had a gleam but the beak of the crazed loon shot through the socket nonetheless. The dagger beak then went to work impaling the body of the catch. The gills ripped apart, the liver wrenched out, the heart cleaved into several pieces. The red eyes served as fierce sentinels as the loon tore the body into mangled chum.
The water lapped up to the blood soaked ground. The remains attracted only scavengers. They circled above, crept and crawled from below. The loon did not bother to fight them off. He turned away and returned to the glassy water. The shore looked much as it had before, but the hum of scrounging insects twisted the land. The smell of fish just before rot drew crowds of vermin to the darkening waterfront. The water too seemed unaltered but the war wail of the red eyed loon reverberated across the lake. The warbling wail warned children to shut their eyes tight, to shroud that fatal gleam. It commanded them to close their mouths around their pearly teeth, to protect their new found smiles.
Night was fully formed on Big Squam Lake. The loon’s white flecks reflected the moonlight and his black feathers faded into the shadows cast across the water. Still, the gleam of red shone from his eyes and he wailed until the trout was nothing but a skeleton waiting to be bleached by the sun. He called into small hours and beyond. He whooped against the water that held him afloat. And his signal went out to others, whose red eyes shone and whose voices hailed back the wail of the loon.