This year I entered the Boise Weekly Fiction 101 contest. The rules are to write a story containing exactly 101 words (hyphenated words count as a single word). I entered two stories and neither passed the judges muster. But, here they are for your review. The first is based on my visit to a humpback whale that had washed up on the beach in southern Washington. We were heading to the Oregon Coast and while in Astoria heard about the whale on the evening news and changed our plans. Being a wildlife biologist, I was curious to see the whale and to photograph it, but the trip turned into an observation of human behavior which was incredibly interesting. Some of the photos I made were used in the official report, which was unable to determine the cause of death.
The second is based on a poem I wrote many years ago, but have since misplaced so I only remember a couple bits.
Visiting the Whale
In twilight she rested, saltwater cradling her body. The air still but the sea restless. Thirty years near-weightless, her massive black-gray body rarely felt the pull of gravity. On the surface, three-foot-swells washed over her broad back. A final beat of her heart and slow exhale into the night, her body gave way to the mercy of the current. Under the stars she touched the Earth for the first time where once her ancestors walked on hoofed feet among towering ferns. With the sun they came; to see, touch, poke, gawk, photograph, pose, measure, sample; a funeral procession of Peeping Toms.
Her universe comes with her wherever she goes, dragged along by her measured pace. Stars and planets, mothers, sons, mountains, and alligators helpless against the pull of her gravity, as she is helpless against theirs. We are here and then; intersecting, obstructing. Bumping amorphous bubbles of existence flow through, encompass, attract, influence, repel. A mountain valley or deep ocean holds more than a tea cup. A river meanders among galaxies. Cool rain splashes on her upturned face. “Your universe is too small for me!” she shouts, defiant as she lies in the dugout canoe, dragging her hand languidly in the sea.