Before you take the plunge, take a deep breath. The calming presence of water runs deep — cooling, stilling emotions. There’s an element of exploration, too, a confrontation with the depths.
Writers sought deep waters for stories this week. Take the plunge with them.
The following is based on the June 11, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story deep waters.
PART I (10-minute read)
Lofty Undertaking by Jo Hawk
Skyscrapers defined the canyon walls of Anders’ world. Imposing shadows modulated light and dark and framed his existence. He marched predictable paths that left him stuck in mechanized monotony.
Searching for more, his friends convinced him to kayak a Norwegian fjord. Landmasses dwarfed anything he had ever seen. The guides told stories of massive sperm whales, sixty feet long and weighing eighty tons, they ate giant squid who swam four thousand feet below his kayak’s thin fiberglass shell.
Anders imagined he was the whale, diving deep, he hunted dark waters. He breached the surface, reborn, and ready to soar.
Still Waters by R. V. Mitchell
“Still waters run deep.” What an amazing metaphor. But out on the big pond, still waters are a godsend. “The Deep,” has her moments of calm, but Magellan got it wrong when he named the Pacific. This expanse of deep shows her temper far too often.
Well, that is what the still waters of Petty Officer Mike Sanchez’s mind were pondering as he checked the lifeline on his harness, and made his way from the gun deck of his destroyer. As he did, the vessel pitched headlong into a trough, and the bow disappeared into a next rising peak.
Fishing by Allison Maruska
My destination lies ahead; its glassy surface reflects the morning sky. I beat my massive wings, and in a minute, I’m there. Tucking them against my sides, I dive. Water envelopes my scales. I can’t feel it through my tough hide.
Beneath me, several trout dart away. My keen eyesight zeroes in, and I push into the deep waters. I capture two fish and lurch around, facing the surface. With a waving motion, I propel upward, launching from the lake. When I extend my wings, spray reaches the opposing shores.
This is so much better than a fishing rod.
Emerging by D. Avery
He and Hope followed the brook through the softwoods to his favorite fishing spot. But when Hope saw the clear deep pool she was no longer interested in catching trout. She became a trout, flashing sleek and slippery through the water.
Hope stood briefly, a little girl again. Then she knelt beneath the surface, remained curled up on the gravel bottom. He held his own breath until finally Hope unfolded, emerging at last from the cold water. Solemnly she disclosed that she’d been a rock for ten million years.
“There’s magic here, Daddy.”
“Yes, Hope. I see it too.”
Deep Waters by Anca Pandrea
I have a pocketful of dreams. Heavy, they forgot how to breathe. I drag my feet through the afternoon light, dancing over the surface. Shadows reach out from the abyss, and ghosts are all shadow. I don’t look back, the shore I can’t call home anymore. I stumble. It’s hope that tugs at my feet, tiny and fleeting. The river runs slow and cold and blue. Do dark, almost black. Quiet and gentle and infinite. Not enough to drown the tears. I let go of my breath one last time. Between myself and I, only the deep waters.
Deep Waters by Anita Dawes
Forgotten by the people they had made
They came from a timeless place
Cold, hollow, brittle
I hoped they would not speak
For fear my bones would break
Already I am fading from this world
I heard a soft voice take my hand
You have fallen into a pit of despair
Let me pull you out…
I felt myself reaching for something
For something I could not see
The sea had swallowed me
Dashing my body against sharp rocks
Reaching my hand above the waves
Mind and body pulled together as one
I was no longer treading deep water…
Overlapping by D. Avery
She was eighty years my senior, I the youngest child of her youngest child’s oldest child. From the 20 years our lives overlapped I have only a handful of memories, recalled like sepia snapshots. But if I examine any one of those snapshot memories of us together, somewhere in the frame, in distinct shiny color, is her queen conch shell. Me trying to fathom the spindrift shell, she saying put it to your ear, smiling as ageless ocean washes over me in a rushing tide; us, swimming easily, floating in timeless deep waters that muffle all but that moment.
Still Waters Run Deep by Ritu Bhathal
We sat there, together, staring down into the water. Pops had allowed the boat to come to rest in the middle of the lake. Once the water settled, there was a stillness – just the gentle bobbing motion of our boat causing minuscule ripples along the surface.
“It’s deep, son. You gotta be careful. Going overboard here, goodness knows what you’d see, down below.”
Quiet contemplation from the both of us.
I looked at him. A serenity emanated from his form. He seemed at peace, but I knew what he’d been through in the past. Still waters run deep.
Deep Waters by Kathy70
I think I was 4 when it happened. I was sitting in the metal tub that we used for our baths and the water was cold, more was heating on the kitchen stove. An older brother came in, kettle in one hand, book in the other. The water began pouring and I began screaming, it went right on my leg. Mom came to my rescue, only time in my entire life as I recall. She was a lost person with all us kids, never had a chance to be herself. Then the real abuse started as best I can recall.
Podunk by Paula Puolakka
Y’all so crazy like you just escaped from an insane asylum!
That’s what I thought when I read about the NASCAR Confederate flag ban.
I’m listening to “Backyard” by Kevin Costner & Modern West and flipping through the pictures from the trip to Charlotte’s NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Whose life is this? Whose heritage are we treasuring? There should be room for everyone, they say, but that’s a lie.
I put on Kid Rock’s “Po-Dunk” and think about the stereotypes associated with us. I’m gonna move to Finland and start a colony somewhere deep in the eastern swamplands. Hell!
Cargo by Anne Goodwin
The body to my right had stopped breathing but the left one still groaned. I tried to comfort him but my words were babble to his ears. Too late, the white man taught me skin speaks stronger than tribe.
When they unshackled us, I expected new neighbours, but they hauled me to my feet, strapped a carcass to my back and whipped me up the ladder to the deck. My head span, the boat swayed, sea spray slashed my wounds. Parched, skeletal, unmuscled, I summoned strength to save myself and toss my brothers to deep water. Complicit? Plotting revenge.
Still Waters by Liz Husebye Hartmann
“Okay, you can uncover your eyes now.”
“Wow! That’s beautiful…and heartbreaking. Who made this mural?”
“Trevor made this one. And take a few steps around this corner. This is one by Teresa. Yeah…it makes me tremble, too.”
“Wait! Those quiet kids who never join in on anything?”
“Apparently they just don’t join in on the things we’ve been offering.”
“I had no idea.”
“Neither did I. It seems those still waters run deep.”
“So what do we do now?”
“We go back to school. Donate groceries. Attend drum circles and honor Juneteenth.”
“And never go back to normal?”
A New Tradition by John Lane
Many centuries ago, when the seventeen-feet deep Jordan River was clean and thriving, a man that wore camel’s hair was called by a higher authority.
After consumption of his diet of locusts and honey, John the Baptist waded in waist-deep to baptize in the name of his higher authority.
One day, his higher authority, also known as the Messiah, the straps of whose sandals he was not worthy to untie, showed up to be baptized. The Spirit of God descended like a dove.
And many centuries later, believers still carry out the tradition of baptism from John the Baptist.
Deep Waters by Hugh McGovern
“You can’t keep me here,” I said clutching the pillow in defiance.
“You are not ready to go home, yet,” she said. “Give it more time.”
“There is nothing wrong with me. You lot are insane not me.”
“No one said you are insane,” she said, coming to sit by the bed. “These things take time. What difference does a few weeks make?” She sat on the bed. “Do you still believe in global harmony?”
“I did. Now I don’t know.”
“Why not grow a beard?”
Drowning would be better!
Deep Waters by FloridaBorne
“The human race reminds me of a fool walking along a precipice,” my father said. “He falls and lands on the only tree growing out of the cliff.”
I once asked mom, “Why does he have to be so negative all the time?”
“He’s dying,” she said. “Agent orange is taking him away from us.”
I’d remembered his words as we stood on the deck of our family’s boat to throw his ashes into the sea. Sunny days, a soft breeze, calm waters, and whiskey were his solace.
Fifty years after his death, I’d never visited the ocean again.
There’s Always the Eye of a Needle by JulesPaige
Sun under wood, shaded yard
Scavenger loop, just to see the ‘mettle’ of the earth
My endurance lacking in the humidity for the time and being
And never said a word (not boo), let the crow catch a few seeds…
Those blackbirds they are skittish ~
Like me shopping with a mask this morning, just wanting home…
But before that, I paused at the first yard sale of the season –
Reaching into the depths of my wallet for two dollars.
More buttons and spools ~
if the bobbin would
stop cutting its own thread I’d
sew me together
PART II (10-minute read)
Deep Waters by Joanne Fisher
“It’s surprising we never became lovers. You know I’ve always had feelings for you Emma?” Michelle asked me in the cafe.
“Yeah I guessed. I have feelings for you too,” I admitted.
We looked at one another in awkward silence. We both knew it could never be. We had our own lives that seldom intersected with each other. This was the first chance meeting in a long while.
“Well I had better go,” she said. I wistfully smiled at her, not wanting to explore this any further. These were deep waters neither of us wanted to get lost in.
Famous Classmates by Susan Sleggs
Michael and Tessa gazed at the Wall of Fame in their high school. Tessa asked, “Did you see Phillip Sheppard when he was on the TV show Survivor?”
“I did, and his pink underpants didn’t surprise my Aunt Sue a bit. She said he was the character in her class. I wonder how much ribbing his brother James took as the Rochester Police Chief at the time. He probably felt like he was wading in deep water.”
“And Bill T. Jones was her student instructor in choir. Who knew at the time these three African-American students would become famous.”
Author’s Note: I ate lunch with Bill T. Jones and other friends every day when I was in eighth grade at Wayland-Cohocton Central School. He is now a world-renowned modern dance teacher and Kennedy Center Honors recipient. James and Phillip Sheppard were a few years younger than me. I had the opportunity to have lunch with Phillip after his second appearance on Survivor. What a fun guy to hang out with. And no, we had no clue while in high school these classmates would become household names. (photos on my blog)
Still Waters Run Deep by Eliza Mimski
My mother always told me that still waters run deep, that an ordinary man with ordinary looks could smolder with passion. He could take you to places you’d never been before, hidden places wild with excitement.
Oh, how I used to watch these ordinary men. The grocery clerk behind the counter. The man waiting for the bus, reading his newspaper, his glasses down his nose. The humble old man collecting plastic bottles from the recycling bins.
Inside of these men were hidden talents. They ran deep. Once you’d been with one of them you’d never settle for anything less.
Electric Skin by Janet Guy
Hot bubbles swirled around Dominic. Strong jets of water targeted sore muscles above his shoulder blades, along his spine, the backs of his calves. Dom shifted against them, letting new muscles get pounded back to health. Wrinkled fingertips skimmed the top of the water. A bell rang. Dom heaved himself out of the jacuzzi. He trudged over to a small circle in the floor. Bright light illuminated its still waters. Dom braced himself. He plunged into the icy depths. Every nerve sparked with life. Rainbows danced across his eyelids. Dom pulled himself out of the chilly water and grinned.
Deep Waters by Dave Madden
Terry was cognizant of the deep waters, though he hadn’t yet been there.
Ten-minutes disappeared from the clock, and he labored to leave his stool for the final round. Across the cage, a maniacal grin appeared across the opponent’s face as he observed Terry’s struggle.
Coach urged Terry to circle the cage. Easy advice when you’re not wearing weights around your ankles.
The opponent flashed some combinations before diving in on Terry’s legs, hoisting him into the heavens, and smashing him to the canvas. Too tired to escape the pressure, Terry drowned in the center of the cage.
Under the Waves by Joanne Fisher
“What’s down there mummy?”
“That’s the deep. We never go down there child.”
“There are dangers in those deep waters. Not even the light from above can penetrate that darkness and the nameless horrors dwelling there. We swim nearer to the surface.”
“What’s up there?”
“That is the place where the water ends. We can survive for a while there, but it is here where we belong. Not like humans.”
“What are humans?”
“They have legs instead of tails. They cannot breathe down here, which is why it’s amusing to drag them under and watch them drown.”
Deep Waters by Reena Saxena
The widow did not shed a tear, and the world was aghast.
They were such a happy-go-lucky couple.
She was labelled as stoic, determined not to display emotion in public, cold, manipulative and whatever they could think of.
Nobody knew she was breathing free for the first time.
Nobody knew the mental torture she had suffered for decades. Nobody knew that her parents did not stand by her when she needed help, and she had shut off the emotional tap.
You may be a coach, therapist or expert swimmer, but wading in deep waters of relationships is never easy.
Never So Free by Donna Matthews
They planned this excursion for the past year, pouring over brochures, scouring the internet, and reading the reviews of each tour guide. But now, here at the edge of the tiny boat, she wasn’t sure she could go through with it. Her new husband winked and fell backward into the sea. Finally, she surrendered and fell in too. Her first few labored breaths threatened to overwhelm her, but as she settled in, she saw a school of fish off to the right. Kicking her fin, she cruised right into the middle, scattering class. Giggling, she never felt so free.
Into Deep Waters by Charli Mills
What to place in my memory box? That last night out at the Fitz when the sun slanted across the western horizon dazzling like a copper-clad ruby while five-foot waves chomped the last of winter’s ice. March 13. We reached across the table, five friends sharing poutine and smoked brisket. We sang happy birthday. Later we dodged deer crossing the road back to Calumet, we stopped for a Bota Box of red wine. We found toilet paper, joking that Yoopers wouldn’t panic buy TP. Into deep waters, memories plunge. Most vivid — the last time I felt normal.
A Memory of Long Lake by Bill Engleson
It was my toughest bike ride ever.
Up to then, anyways.
Ernie and I usually rode up to the Dam to swim.
Or walked two blocks to the Millstream.
Not this time.
“We can’t do it,” I whined. “Gotta be a hundred miles.”
Train tracks snuggling the old highway.
Wishing we were crows.
Got there by noon.
A dozen local kids swimming away.
“There’s really no bottom to it, Ernie?”
“Goes all the way to China, I hear.”
I believed every word then.
Kinda still do.
Displacement by Jeff Gard
Nobody knows which raindrop transmuted our reservoir into a frothing bull that breached the levee, stampeding downriver, chased by debris. One moment, we marveled at the storm; the next, our recreational area transgressed its cage and reclaimed its territory: roads that scarred the landscape healed by a fresh, muddy skin, cloned McMansions gutted of their trophies, converted to bird houses.
On higher ground, we found sanctuary in the high school, now a bed and breakfast for a thousand refugees. While we waited on our cots, calmer voices gathered to assign blame with flashes of insight, booming words of consolation.
Profoundly Shallow by Geoff Le Pard
‘Where are we?’
‘The Great Lakes, Morgan. Lake Erie.’
‘It sure is eerie. Too bloody quiet.’
‘Can’t we just enjoy its magnificence?’
‘It scares the willies out of me. It’s… so deep.’
‘Yes mysterious. Profound.’
‘It’s just a lot of the wet stuff that given half a chance will swallow me whole.’
‘It’s majestic. Unknowable. Imagine what memories it holds…. You know what they say about Still Waters?’
‘He’s the best Pokemon Go hunter ever?’
‘Stile Warters, German Guy. He caught more Pokemon last year. Shall we see if any are here?’
‘Sure. Why not try out there?’
Terrified by Susan Zutautas
The waves that day were perfect for bodysurfing.
I headed into deeper water where the waves were forming so I could ride one back into shore. What I didn’t realize was that the undertow was quite strong and just as the wave was breaking, down under the water I went. The undertow literally dragged me across the bottom of the sea, my body feeling the gritty sand scratching and stinging my skin. I could feel the weight of the sand filling my suit. Finally surfacing disoriented, opening my eyes I saw I was at the shoreline, and stood up.
Crossroads: Journeys by Saifun Hassam
Over millennia, the chasm became a long narrow lake, its deep waters aquamarine, and emerald under the sun. The lake glowed, a burnished golden sheen as the sun set. Craggy volcanic cliffs stood sharply, sentinels guarding the lake.
The stranger gazed reflectively at the lake. He was from an oasis that shriveled as snowpacks on distant mountains shrank. He left when his father died in calm and peace. His heart broke as he buried his father under a giant palm tree. What sustained those groves, he wondered.
The shimmering lake beckoned, lifting his deep grief, healing, renewing his spirit.
Kiddhartha by D. Avery
“Feels like a long while since we jist ranched.”
“Yep, it’s good ta be out ridin’ the range, herdin’ hosses, gittin’ ‘em ta greener pastures. Whoa. There’s a river. Think we kin ford it?”
“We ain’t gotta buy it Kid, jist gtta git acrost it. Carefully.”
“Water looks still.”
“Still waters run deep. We’ll git the hosses down ta the river, let ‘em quench their thirst an’ rest up. ***
Dang, Kid. I led ‘em ta water but cain’t git these hosses ta drink. Kid?”
“Shush, Pal. I’m a settin’ here watchin’ the river flow. Havin’ me a think.”