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  • Writer's pictureCamara Inglis

VALENTINA

At Uni, before the pandemic hit, I had started writing short stories with the help of my friends. My friends would write one sentence for me and decide whether they wanted this to be an opening or closing sentence and I would build a story around it.


This is something I want to continue so if you would like a story of your own be sure to check out my "Contact Me" page and get in touch, or drop me a message on Instagram @cingblogs or @_c.mara! 'VALENTINA' is a full short story written with the help of my friend by the same name, who wrote the last line based on the tapestry hanging in her room (pictured), and I created a short story based on it. I hope you enjoy!


At 4:28pm as she sat twisting the jellyfish charm bracelet her daughter bought for her, the cruise ship descended into hysteria. The tranquil aura that engulfed as she lay sprawled on the deck chairs was pierced with the sound of ringing alarms and panicked screams. People dashed by her in slow motion, eager to get as far away from the ship as possible.


She peeled black sunglasses from her face, scanning the frenzy of people for a clue as to the cause of the madness surrounding her. The answer arrived in the form of cold, dark eyes that pierced her soul, sending ice slivers of fear down her spine. As her eyes travelled down the man's body, she noticed a large package strapped to his front; two remotes held by his side in either hand.


Instantly she snapped out of her trance and raced against the tide of people running towards her and ran straight towards the man; she had to find her family. Instead she was met with flailing arms slapping her sideways, forcing her to turn around and move forward with the crowd, further away from the certainty of her family's safety. Her attempts to scream their names remained futile as they were swallowed by cries of desperation. She craned her neck every which way just to catch a glimpse of them, but the only eyes to look back at her were unfamiliar, terrified ones yearning to get to safety.


Quickly, she was grabbed by rugged hands and she stood facing a panic-stricken worker. He slapped goggles onto her confused face and roughly spun her around to strap an oxygen tank to her back. In doing so, her jellyfish charm bracelet fell from her wrist and onto the ship's deck. Without a care for the stampeding feet that would inevitably crush her fingers, she bent down to pick it up. She would not part with that bracelet. Inches before she could touch it, an unspeakable blast of force catapulted her backwards all the way down, down, down, into the dark, unforgiving waters of the ocean.


She doesn't know how long time seemed to not exist for, but cautiously she attempted to open her eyes trying to determine whether the vibrations wracking her body were coming from the pounding in her ears or the convulsions consuming her body. Her unfocused eyes rolled lazily behind the thick goggles unable to concentrate properly. She took long, hard blinks and slowly became aware of her surroundings. She lay face down in the ocean vulnerable to its infinitely icy embrace. Slowly, the ringing noise running through her brain subsided, only to be replaced by the soft hissing noise of her oxygen tank.


But she did not panic.


As she began to accept her inevitable fate, every euphoric memory she had ever recorded in her brain flooded her senses, until they merged into an exploding array of pinks, oranges and greens, so bright and overwhelming she shut her eyes to dim their light. Slowly, it dawned on her that these would be the last memories she would ever make. She would never feel another sunset, never hear her daughter's laugh nor smell her favourite foods cooking again. As the water began to fill up her lungs and her eyelids felt so heavy they started to flutter shut, an image of her sweet daughter floated into her mind.


It could have been the low oxygen levels in the tank strapped to her back, but further in the distance, peering through mists of pink and green hues, appeared to be what was almost unmistakably a jellyfish.

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