#WriterinMotion Week 4: Final Version with Wrap Up

Last week, I received my lovely feedback from my editor friend, Miranda Darrow. She offered good insight and suggestions on how to improve my short story to complete the final week for WriterinMotion’s summer season. She made some good interesting points for clarifying and other ways to cut down in the word count. I loved this little showdown in the water between Jillian and Logan for a future meet-cute scene somewhere down the road. I might consider picking Miranda as a editor choice for next year’s Revpit content when I have my current WIP, Falling For You, ready, and edited by then. And the prompt worked out wonderfully to fit it into well. Whether you can afford to hire an editor or enter a pitch contest like Pitch Wars, Author Mentor Match, and Revpit, these writer contests are great resources to receive free writing feedback for your work. Having multiple beta readers/critique partners and join a local or online writing group can be beneficial to your writing career.

Without further ado, here’s the final version of Smoke on the Water. Thank you for stopping by my blog. Hope to see you next season. I might return to regularly update my writing blog between now and then. Enjoy!

Smoke On the Water

On a clear spring morning, I walked along the long pier at Washington Park Beach, the waters of Lake Michigan lapped at the shore, Foamy waves carried a scattering of seashells to decorate the sand. I’d received a special assignment from the National Historical Society to design an overload appliqué for the annual BalloonFest in Astor Fields next month. They’d given me permission to tour the automated lighthouse. I swallowed hard and held my breath.
Lighthouses had always fascinated me ever since I was a young girl. From my previous research on Michigan City Lighthouse & Pier, I’d gotten the gist of how tall and wide the beacon would be for the balloon. I pretended to faint. My pulse soared like a surfer riding a wave when the local newspaper mentioned my name in that article. At the entrance, I typed rough estimates for the pre-cut design. Instead of the usual red-and-white stripes, I etched a light composition on the canvas like an artist painting their seascape. My heartbeat slammed inside my chest as I’d worked on the design. When I finished, I unlocked the doors to the leading light with the master key.
Inside the beacon, I climbed the spiral staircase to the elevated catwalk. Out-of-breath, I reached the top and glanced at the large windows facing Lake Michigan to marvel at the view. “Wow! I feel like I’m on top of the world…” I let out a soft chuckle and relaxed my shoulders.
Nothing but a sunny sky, a couple puffs of smoke. What the hell? I moved closer to the railing. Something buoyed along the tide. Smoke on the water. I gasped at deflated hot air balloon that floated with broken suspension cords. “Someone call 9-1-1 ASAP!” I headed toward the pier as I waited for help. Why was that balloon here unless it was an aeronaut from the Balloonfest.
I exited and sprinted toward the quiet beach. At the parking lot, I removed my sneakers and my jean shorts, and stashed them with my tablet and duffel bag in my car. As a former senior lifeguard, I was a strong swimmer trained to rescue people in the water. I bit my lower lip and guessed the basket was at least fifteen feet away.
Sirens sounded in the distance. Like a buoy, somebody clutched onto the basket. I rushed toward the water’s edge before anyone could stop me.
“Hey miss. You should leave it to the professionals. Didn’t you call for help?”
I nodded and glanced at him. He dressed in a MCFD uniform. But I couldn’t tell what rank and name appeared on his backside. “Yes, I did. But this person needs our help. I’m a former lifeguard..”
He scoffed. “Yeah, right. Please step back and let us do our job. We’ll get to the site faster without your interference.”
I opened my mouth and closed it shut. I would love to prove him wrong. “Wanna bet….Officer.”
“It’s Lieutenant O’Dowd. What’s your name? And you’re on.” He snickered.
O’Dowd? Wait a minute here. One of my survival camp instructors last fall had been named O’Dowd? I smirked. “Logan, we meet again. It’s Jillian Ross. Meet you at the basket.” I ran toward the shallow end and dove straight into the chilly water. No doubt, he groaned behind me and accelerated the fire/rescue boat. I’d gotten the lead by a mere margin as I propelled myself forward with the freestyle stroke. I didn’t notice the chill, but more swirling smoke wafted into the air from the sinking basket as someone called for “help.”
Logan sped on the waves. I splashed Logan when I approached the basket. This man inside sported a black hooded jacket. Smoke consumed his face as he blocked it with his hand.
I did my best to shrug off the shivers.Fire engulfed the hot air balloon. A Coast Guard clipper doused the flame and tended to the injured man’s needs. A splash didn’t do much to smother this out-of-control blaze.
He smirked and folded his arms. “Not so fast. You’ve proven your point, and we’ll take over from here. We don’t want you to catch a cold.”
“I wanted to save a life… Lieutenant.”
“Want a ride back to the beach?” He grabbed a towel and held it out for me when I climbed inside the boat to dry off. What a perfect gentleman. So gallant and chivalrous.
My lips quivered. I frowned at the faded white, red, and blue colors from the hot air balloon. The fire smeared the design with a missing logo or emblem. I wrapped myself inside a warm towel as we sped past the clipper that gathered the balloon for evidence.
“Satisfied,” Logan said. “But I don’t know what you were thinking or had to prove by swimming into cold water?”
“Nothing. Just wanted to save a life. I guess I did in a way.” I remained quiet until we reached shore. “Thanks for the lift. See you around..Logan.” I jumped out and tossed him his towel. I sprinted toward my car in the parking lot. Ten minutes later, I drove away and headed toward my home in Valparaiso. A secret smirk crossed my face when I know we would meet again when our relationship would take flight like navigating a hot air balloon for the Balloonfest next month.

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