Photo of a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

Writing Prompt by
Place: on a boat
Character: a violinist
Object: one airline ticket
Mood: overwhelmed
Proofread: R.L. Campbell

The first thing I remember is the cold. It beat at my face like stabbing swords. Tiny stabbing swords the size of toothpicks. It hurt, those piercing little toothpick blades. Only, they weren’t “blades” at all, but … coldness. “Beat” isn’t the right word either. Splash, I guess, fits better. It was ice water after all. And even colder air.

I opened my eyes when the feeling of drowning overwhelmed the pain of the cold. I coughed, and that hurt more. Something was in my throat and in my nostrils, stinging me. Soda pop? Miniature bees? Water. I tried to roll over but found my body constricted. I could not move. Hogtied? … Kidnapped and drowning?!!


Blinking, I strained to look down at my body. Maybe it wasn’t even there, that would explain why I could not move. It was there. Well, something was there. I don’t wear plaid! No, not hogtied. I’m wrapped up and laying down. A plaid blanket. A cold blanket.

It was then when I started to feel like I was gaining my senses. Lying on my back, I could make out—see the overcast sky. I could smell smoke, acrid burning, chemical smoke. To my right a hard wood floor and a bundle of… another person. I am a person. A blue face but with puffs of visible vapor from the too-blue lips and nose at regular intervals.


A gasp and cough from the other side of me. I turned my head. It hurt. A similar sight.

“We … We will … make … it. Thank Ggggod … We will …make … it,” the bundled person to my left coughed out. He or she? I could not tell, but eyes I will never forget. They stared into mine. I could see beyond the physical and recognized shear relief and joy despite the shades of his/her blue lips and white cheeks. A smile even, though it seemed it would shatter those smooth frozen-looking cheeks.

I think we crashed into the water.


Thunder from above. Man made, the familiar thunder of a helicopter. Agonizing minutes rolled past as I searched frantically for the source of the sound. It was up there, and it was loud, like it would land right on top of me. Then I heard footsteps as bright yellow and orange jacketed men appeared. Comforting words, and confident commands.

The person to my right was gathered into a long basket. I knew what was going on now. My plane had crashed. It was a “water landing”, and some of us had survived. What about Betsy? I could not loose her. She was my only key to the future I had dreamed of. She was all I had brought with me on the plane.

It was just a short flight, no need for clothes or other baggage. Just fly in, audition, and fly out. Betsy would be the clincher. Without her my dreams of being a world-renowned violinist would shatter to a million pieces. The whole village depended on Betsy and me. They gathered the money and I would represent them.

Oh Betsy…

I didn’t even own a violin. The village only had one. It was lent to me for one month. That’s all I had and time was running out. One more audition, and the money was gone. If I did not get the seat, we would return home, Betsy and I, with my tail between my legs, so-to-speak. And the fate of my village for my failure? Who could say. They had invested in me. Me and Betsy.

The two passengers gone, the coast guard returned to me. Was I all that was left? The last to leave the little fishing boat that had plucked me away from what surely would have been a better future than returning home in shame, and without Betsy… No, death was not better. It was good to be alive. I will survive, and the village would prevail.

“I think this is yours,” the orange-vested man said and tucked something under my blanket. I could tell what it was. I remember holding it on the plane. It was something I had always thought I’d cherish, but now, I didn’t want anything to do with the airline ticket. It had stole my dreams, my passion, and my honor.

As I drew near the hovering helicopter, I was well aware that somewhere down below, perhaps in the cargo bay of the downed airplane was a trapped and drowning Betsy. If her case had survived, it would become her coffin, if violins could have one.

“So long Betsy,” I croaked out in a hoarse whisper. “I am sorry”