Over at Carrot Ranch the January 21, 2021, prompt is: “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that rephrases ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ Think of how the cliche replacement communicates a hopeful ending and aligns with your character or story. Go where the prompt leads!” Mine is a double.
Skipper. Always a corncob pipe stuck in his mouth, puffing away like that’s what powered the boat. Remember one time we got caught out in a bad nor’easter. That corncob grew cold but he kept it clenched in his teeth as he steered through the troughs and waves, me shivering scared in the cuddy cabin. I didn’t believe we’d weather that one. Then somehow Skipper had a free hand to relight his pipe under the brim of his oilskin hat. The storm was still pounding wild, but that round glow chipping at the dark told me we’d come through.
His hands at his chest clutching the blanket edge reminds me of him at the helm that night, our lives depending on his firm and determined grip. Now his breath wheezes like the gurgling stem of that corncob pipe. The electronic machines cast steady waves of green light, sounding ebb and flow. If it were a depth finder I could read it. I want to believe he’ll weather this one. That tube in his throat, does he think that’s his pipe? Aren’t his lips moving, champing at the familiar bit? I watch his hands. Light your damn pipe, Skipper.