Sea Swayer

Bebulol Dive Resort Indonesia

Photo © Lera 76 via Google photosphere

This is a continuation of the story told in the previous flash fiction pieces: Hard to Port, Unstoppable Waves, and Deep Currents, with a little side-step into the story Tidal Returns. You might want to read those first, or just jump straight into this one.

Menawidasenala didn’t yell. This was too important.

Her son stared at the water-line, as if memorizing it for the last time.

“Eka, what did you think? That because I ride the highest wave, I can move the ocean?”

“Customs can be bent.” Hope pooled in his eyes. “She’s no lowly lander.”

Mena bared her forearm, displaying shining blue-green designs, the most intricate on all the islands. “Is she marked? Can she water-shift? Who will be your wind-scent?”

He grumbled.  “I can smell the wind as well as any woman.”

Would she pay for her indulgence by losing him?  Mena swayed, her jeweled necklaces clucking, signaling silence while she considered.  “If she stays, she must prove herself.”  She held his gaze. “The long swim.”

“But she’ll drown without…”  He choked.

“One year I give her, to gain Xinxoni’s blessing first.”

That was as far as she could bend, even for him.

Word count: 150.  Written in response to this week’s What Pegman Saw challenge, which lets us vicariously travel all over the world in Pegman’s footsteps. This week Pegman brings us to Raja Ampat Regency, in the West Papua province of Indonesia. Click on the link to see the other stories inspired by this gorgeous location, and to write your own!


26 thoughts on “Sea Swayer

      • Since Jordan used just about every trope known to mankind in his world-building, it’s hard to create a culture that doesn’t have some similarities! Although I suppose that’s better than when people lock onto one or two aspects of one of my cultures and say, “Oh, so they’re Egyptians?” or “Oh, so they’re Chinese?” Argh!


  1. Wow, mother-in-law-to be (maybe) has some high expectations of her could-be daughter in law. I hope she can swim at this point, so she use the year to train to swim long distance, and quite possibly rapids, undertows and all those horrible things (or sea monsters)that are in this place. Great tension and love joe you dived right in but came out with such a wonderful high-paced story. Hope your summer/spring is going great Joy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Amanda, I’m so glad you enjoyed it and got all that tension out of it! Of course it’s hard to get all the important things about the culture across in such a short piece. The secret is that this isn’t just about swimming like a normal person . When Mena says “can she water-shift?” she’s referring to how some women in this culture are blessed by their goddess Xinxoni and can transform into fish (think: dolphin or whale, not minnow). So this “lander” woman from another culture is unlikely to survive this specific challenge unless she can change into a fish. And yes, the mother (who is the leader of their people) was certainly expecting that her son would marry well — a woman from their culture who had magical powers and could be a full partner helping him captain his ship.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah I see. I feel bad for the girl, maybe she transforms into a selkie (throw an Scottish one in their). Or, maybe she becomes a shark and eats the other girls lol.
        Just my thoughts. Thanks for the explanation 🙂 Always enjoy your background

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hmm, interesting ideas… ! I’m not sure that eating the other women would endear her to the culture, but then, she doesn’t have much chance of learning to transform to any kind of fish in only a year anyway. I fear she’s in serious trouble unless she thinks of some new option. But who knows? She’s a bright person, maybe she has an idea that I haven’t thought of yet!


    • Thanks Karen, I appreciate it! I’m fascinated with my Ossarac culture too. The plan was to not to leak out too many of their secrets right away, and to see their mysteries from outsiders’ perspectives (most of my stories are written about the people the Ossarac call “landers”), and only much later learn what’s really happening with them. But it’s just too interesting not to go there!


    • Ha ha – well, every parent wants the best for their child, don’t they! And in this case, she’s the leader (like a queen) and is expecting that her son will choose a mate from their own culture, one who is powerful in their secret magic and can be a useful partner, helping him captain his ship. Eka is demanding a lot more from his mother, actually. They have strict rules not to bring outsiders to the islands, and never to reveal their cultural rites and secrets, and not only does he bring an outsider here, endangering all of them, he’s asking his mother / the queen for permission to *marry* her! It would be well within Mena’s rights (and expected by her people) to have any outsider who came into the territory summarily executed, so this was a crazy demand on his part.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah! Well, then. This changes a things a bit, doesn’t it? 🙂
        Looks to me, the apple didn’t fall THAT far from the tree in the stubborn-department, though …
        Fascinating story line and complex backstory. NICE! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for letting me talk your ear off about it! And yes exactly: Mena shouldn’t be that surprised that her son picked up her own strong and opinionated ways.

        One of the side effects of writing all my stories in the same large and complex world is that I have a ready-made background (or at least, part of one) for new stories. But of course it’s hard to squeeze much of that background into these micro-stories, so there’s always the iceberg below the water and all the reader can see is the little bit above the water.


  2. It’s a mark of the high quality of your writing that you communicate so much of your cultures in these stories. This story introduces people who have supernatural powers, and yet are very human in their character and motivation. Today’s world is particularly alluring!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Penny, that’s so kind of you to say. It’s challenging to communicate more than a glimpse of any of these cultures without making it sound like an “info dump”, especially while trying to make the characters and their emotions feel true. It’s a lot to wrangle into 150 words, so I’m always appreciative of a nice comment that tells me it worked!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with Penny, you always manage to write a fully rounded story, hinting at a complex culture and backstory with no info dumping! Pretty swish trick, that, and definitely shows what a talented writer you are, Joy.
    I hope this girl knows what she’s letting herself in for, because even if she does survive this swim, I feel she’ll never quite be good enough for Eka (according to his mother, anyway).
    Been away from WP for a few weeks, finishing the WIP – finally worked through and applied my betas’ feedback and the MS is now with a proofreader. How’s your spring/early summer gone. Joy? You still up to your eyes in work or have you managed to step into Eneana for a while?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hinting is all you can do with 150 words, but I’m very grateful to hear that the hints are coming across. And no, I don’t think Jallen quite understands what she’s in for, because Eka hasn’t yet revealed the secrets of his people. For that matter, even *I* am not sure what she’s in for, because I haven’t quite decided whether an outsider can ever be accepted by their goddess and be granted the magical powers that Mena expects her to have. See my comment to Na’ama above for more details on what Mena is expecting and why. This goes beyond a “queen” expecting her son to marry “royalty”; he needs a wife who can perform the sea-faring magic if they’re going to captain the “royal” ship together.

      I noticed that I hadn’t seen you around lately, and I’m happy to hear it was because you were getting writing done. Hooray! I have been working (job-work) nonstop for the past six months or so, so not much writing for me. The flood waters have receded a little, temporarily: instead of being up to my eyes, it’s more like up to my chin. So I can breathe, but I still have to keep paddling as hard as I can.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, had my longest absence since I started the blog – nearly a month between posts! I just found I had to dedicate what writing time I had to the book or the darn thing would never be finished – or so it felt at the time. Glad to hear things have eased off a little for you, though your job sounds very demanding and I applaud you for getting any writing done at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not really getting anything written, just these flash fiction pieces. But I am reading a bit of resource / background material and taking notes, and jotting down ideas for ongoing stories, so it feels like I still have a toe in the game, if not a whole foot.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Cape of Disappointment | Tales from Eneana

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