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First Page: Unpublished Manucript- Women’s fiction

First Page: Unpublished Manucript- Women’s fiction

Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.


Neha Shah and her parents sat cross legged around a pious fire in their living room.  “Om Namaahh..Shivai” intoned the priest and tossed a few grains of rice into the flames. Neha stifled a yawn. This was the third hour of the puja by her last estimation.

Most people had a family doctor; the Shah’s had a family priest. He had performed this ceremony, intended to appease all nine planets, at the weddings of the previous three generations of their family.

Mrs. Shah had vehemently opposed any suggestions of procuring someone with a cheaper rate. ‘His presence is so lucky for us. See how everyone in our family has had successful marriages. My sister tried to act smart by getting a new fellow for her daughter and see what happened… divorce in a year!’

Now as Neha watched the elderly priest wheeze from the smoke and cover his coughs with a trembling hand, she hoped enough of his luck would rub off on him to not leave in a stretcher.

Despite the strategically placed table fans, Neha’s red tasseled blouse turned progressively maroon as droplets of sweat made their way down her back. Her normally curly hair had been tamed into submission by an hour of straightening. After waging a hard battle with the styling tool, it now lay meekly on top of her head in a loose bun, adorned with a row of tiny white beads.

Meera was not required for this part of the ceremony and was ensconced on a jute sofa across from Neha, her feet tucked underneath a pink saree. Mrs. Shah had been equally generous in passing her genes to her daughters. With dainty frames and fair skin, there was little to distinguish the sisters physically, except for a tiny mole on Meera’s lower lip, as if God Himself had put a black teeka on her as protection from envy. Meera munched on a tiny samosa and smiled guiltily at Neha.

Neha’s stomach gave an audible growl. It was so unfair. As a bride, she was expected to fast the whole day while Varun could eat whatever he pleased. She frowned as her thoughts drifted to her fiancé. She glanced at her mobile. He still hadn’t returned any of her calls since morning. Probably went for a smoke with his cousin from Bangalore, she told herself.

She got a sharp poke from Mrs.Shah. Neha looked up. “Please offer these flowers and ask Lord Ganesha to bless you with marital happiness” the priest repeated. Neha placed the petals at the foot of the idol in the center. ‘Pay attention Neha. You are the not the only one who had to get up early today…’ Mrs. Shah muttered under her breath.

Meanwhile in a flat in one of the more affluent areas of South Bombay, Varun paced the floor of his bedroom. Neha’s cherubic face had been blinking on his cellphone every hour or so, but he had disconnected every time. “Are you ready?” his mother called. “Yes. Maa. Just a minute”

His cellphone vibrated again. His thumb hovered above the end call button, but he hesitated. It was a text -“Its confirmed”.  Heart pounding, he grabbed his suitcase. His silk cream colored Sherwani was laid out carefully on the bed, the tiny ruby stones on the embroidery glinting in the sunlight. Next to it was a Titan watch, his first gift from Neha. Without a backward glance, he slammed the door shut.

First Page: It Takes Two – Romantic Adventure/Paranormal

First Page: It Takes Two – Romantic Adventure/Paranormal

Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.


Chapter One
“Come unto these yellow sands, . . .”

The stars spun madly, as if the galaxy had become a blender switched to frappe. For a brief, fractured moment Sharon wondered if it was the end of the world or just her sanity.

She hit the warm Caribbean Sea back first, hard, knocking the wind out of her. She lay for that brief moment, painfully suspended on the surface, unable to comprehend what had happened. Then the sea embraced her.

And tried to drown her.

Floundering, coughing, sputtering, thinking words that no proper lady would ever allow to pass her lips, she broke the surface of the calm Caribbean, gasping for air. Her thousand-dollar Luna evening gown quickly became several yards of waterlogged virgin tourmaline silk. The dress slipped off quite easily and sank listlessly into the briny depths.

Wiping the salty Caribbean sea from her stinging eyes, she searched for the Cruise ship, Celtic Myst. Minutes before she had been relaxing in a deck chair, watching the stars from the fan tail, waiting for her head to clear from too much champagne.

A scattering of twinkling white, red and green lights shown from the Celtic Myst. Moving away.

“Drat,” she said, watching the lights disappear. A cold knot tightened around her throat, tears blurred her sight.

‘The ocean’s already wet enough, dear.’ Aunt Miranda’s voice whispered in the salty silence.

“You’re right. No sense in getting all worked up just because I’m stuck in the middle of the ocean.” She

swallowed her fear and looked around.

The moon, in its last quarter, was high in the star studded sky. She pulled the few remaining pins from her hair and rolled to her back. “Need to conserve energy,” she mumbled, absent-mindedly.

She looked at her pale body as she floated, the oceans natural phosphorescence aiding the stars glimmering twinkle. Just how many 25 year-old virgins were floating in the Caribbean, clad only in Victoria’s Secret scanty’s? Before she knew it, a sailor would be along— he would be tall, his muscular body tan from life at sea, his hair would be dark with a bit of unruly curl to it. his eyes would be deep blue and when he spoke, the merest trace of an accent, would send the shivers ricocheting around her insides.

Smiling, she opened her eyes, her fantasy chasing the panic away. ‘Where I am? Why Was I thrown off? I paid full price for this trip, it’s not like I was a stowaway.’

“I must speak to my travel agent about this.”

This trip had been her first chance at rest and sunshine for over a year. Well, tomorrow she would get plenty of sun, if she made it through the night.

###

The sun hammered heat and light past her closed eyes into a brain that felt deep-fried. Shading her eyes, she looked around, praying for the sight of something, anything. She closed her eyes.

Water slapped her face. Choking, she opened her eyes. ‘Clouds. Monstrously Big, black clouds. Where did they come from?’’

Rain struck. Life-giving fresh water. Tons of it.

Daylight vanished as the black, wet curtain engulfed her. She was swept upwards on the crest of a wave as lightening ripped through the blackness. Again and again, lightening exploded.

She saw an outline that was neither sea nor sky nor boat.

An island.

With each thunderous blast of light, the island was closer. She could make out the dark silhouette’s of trees.

And rocks. Tall rocks. Cliffs.

Sharon watched, mesmerized as the waves shattered into white, phosphorescent explosions of unbelievable beauty against the cliffs. Cliffs that grew closer with each heartbeat.

Carried on the crest of a twenty-foot wave, she was hurtling into them with the force and acceleration of a freight train bound for hell.

She had neither the strength nor time to scream.