Muddy Waters

Missy checked where her boyfriend, Mike, had gone. He promised to spend the day with her, but Kathy had his attention now. This would not spoil her day because she scanned the rive cove and spotted Tad and swam closer to him.
It didn’t take long for Tad to notice her. She splashed him and swam out to deeper water while signaling for him to follow. A secret place was nearby and she planned to lure him there with her teasing. The murky water under her served as the perfect cover for messing around in plain sight. I’m going to get Tad alone, well sort of, she schemed.
“Is this a game?” Tad asked after he caught her and placed his arms around her bare, toned waist. He glanced around as if aware of all the people in the river and on the gravel beach. No one appeared to pay any attention to them.
“It’s whatever you want it to be.” Missy arched her back and dipped her hair into the water to wet it again. She wrapped her legs around him then pulled herself upright. Her butt rested on the top of his swim trunks, and she felt something warm and stiff as she sank lower. She embraced him tightly then loosened her grip around his neck so her breasts barely touched his chest. The key-hole push-up bikini top she wore gave him a sneak peak of what he might have.
“What about Mike?”
“Mike can’t see what’s right in front of him.” She stroked his hair and protruded a pouty lower lip.
“I thought you guys were together.” Tad stated it like more like a question as if puzzled by her come on.
“He’s busy ogling other girls and showing off. You want to take advantage of that?” She pointed to Mike as he dove off the side of the river bank in front of a group of girls. Missy harbored no guilt and hoped Tad wanted to play. He smiled then embraced her tighter as they drifted further from the kid frenzy to a less populated area.
The laughter and screams of the public lowered a few decibels as Missy and Tad’s sighs and breaths intensified. She rocked back and forth on Tad’s lap. The swirl of muddy water hid the light grinding below while their heads, necks and shoulders moved in rhythm. He kissed her then nibbled on her bottom lip. When they had floated a little further from the others, Tad unhooked the bottom strap of her bikini top and slid his hands under it. She closed her eyes and moaned as he caressed her. She forgot the others could see and maybe hear her until a screeching bird flew overhead. She opened her eyes to a sweet lusty smile on Tad’s face.
She slid off his lap and brushed her hand across the front of his swim trunks. She knew he was ready as she turned and swam away. He followed. She led him upstream to a shallower area near some brush slightly out of sight from the gravel beach. After Christmas, people dumped their Christmas trees in the river to get rid of them. A couple of the discarded brown trees stuck up out of the water. Missy had visited this private spot before whenever she had a playmate.
“Mmmm, I think I can undress you out here.” he said as his hands explored lower.
“Not yet. Let’s make sure there aren’t any boats coming this way. I don’t want to be in a peep show.” She pulled away to look up and down the stream. When she was satisfied that no voyeurs were on the loose, she led him a bit closer to the brush for cover.
“I don’t mind if they peep. You’ve got me so hot now, I don’t care who sees.” He moved in close to her.
“Ooh that tickles, “she said as she felt a light touch lower than before.
“What? I’m not doing anything yet, but I’m gonna.” He leaned forward and stroked her stomach with his finger tips and reached down to hook his thumb into the leg hole of her swim suit when he bumped into something rigid.
“There’s something in my way.” He kicked it. The object dislodged and popped to the surface. It rotated and Tad jumped when he saw it was a body and it was spinning toward him. He shrieked and pushed Missy away. On instinct, he yanked his arms up under the object. It tipped to one side revealing a woman’s blue face with bulging eyes and gaping mouth. Missy winced as the body plopped down and splashed her. She screamed and slapped it away causing it to spin into the river current.
Missy frantically tried to get away from it as she tore through the water to the closest shore until a line of submerged Christmas trees blocked her. The scratchy limbs scraped her bare skin. She changed directions. Without thinking about her nakedness, she thrashed through the water to the original beach with all the swimmers. Her unrestrained breasts jiggled in view of everyone. Tad splashed and thrashed behind her. A crowd of people on and off shore stared as they made spectacles of themselves.
Mike, Missy’s boyfriend, noticed too. He saw her exposed, screaming with Tad trailing, almost within reach of her. Mike ran to the beach and clenched his fists; his face tensed like an angry pit bull. He got there as the two of them made it to the shore.
“What the hell are you doing to her?” He didn’t wait for an answer as he pounded Tad with one fist then another. Spectators circled the group and watched as Mike and Tad slugged each other.
“Hey, you were flirting with other girls, so what if I can show her a good time,” Tad yelled while he gasped for air and threw another punch.
“Stop it! There’s a dead woman floating in the river,” Missy said huffing out of breath and pointing in the general direction.
Mike stopped fighting to look and to chew out Missy.
“Why don’t you cover yourself?” he screamed and pointed to all the little boys standing around staring at Missy’s breasts.

14 thoughts on “Muddy Waters

  1. karengrikitis says:

    The introduction would be much stronger if the body popped up in the first couple of paragraphs. Much less interesting and seemingly irrelevant is the lengthy description of the amorous activities of the three characters, which could be condensed into far fewer words. I would also like more context – where exactly are they? why are they there? who are they? etc.

    • Ellen M. says:

      Thanks for the input. I have struggled with knowing how descriptive the setting should be. These characters are actually filler characters and I was trying to surprise the reader with the dead body. I’ll try again to get this right. The rest of the chapter which is about 2000 words described the body, spectators and first responders reactions. I’ll need to have about 2000 words. Thanks again.

  2. Pete Budic says:

    So I cheated a bit and read your reply above. If these aren’t important characters, especially Missy, then I think that quite a bit of this could go. It might be good for a movie version, but seems a bit extraneous for a book (not to be mean, I’m only learning this as I got it pointed out to me as well).

    Overall i thought the writing was pretty good, but if you end up keeping the scene here or somewhere else the dialog could really be smoothed out. A lot of the lines just didn’t sound like something someone would say, especially flirtatious co-eds 🙂 For example


    “What about Mike?”
    “Mike can’t see what’s right in front of him.” She stroked his hair and protruded a pouty lower lip.
    “I thought you guys were together.” Tad stated it like more like a question as if puzzled by her come on.
    “He’s busy ogling other girls and showing off. You want to take advantage of that?”

    could become (with very little change):

    “What about your boyfriend?”
    “He can’t see what’s right in front of him.” She stroked his hair. “Can you?”

    But the main thing is that if this part of the story is really about the body, get to that sooner and don’t waste as much time with the (almost erotica) story about the kids.

  3. Gentle Reader says:

    I felt like there was just a little bit TMI about characters I didn’t know enough to care about yet. Unless you’re writing some sort of erotic novel, it’s better to wait before giving explicit sexual descriptions about what characters are doing to each other. When I read this opening passage, it was like opening the door to a restroom and seeing two strangers going at it. Many readers will be turned off by a protagonist like Missy (if she’s the protagonist) who cheats on her boyfriend with some stranger. Remember that one of the things authors need to do is create a likable protagonist. Even though her boyfriend flirted with other girls, most people would say that having sex in the water with some stranger is not an appropriate response. If you want the readers to sympathize with Missy, have her break up with the boyfriend with the wandering eye before she engages in underwater sex with some stranger. As it stands, this story seems more like something a guy would take to read in the bathroom, if you know what I mean. If this is a thriller, the opening should emphasize the dead body.

    As for the writing itself, I think the opening line needs to be stronger, as does the opening paragraph. The opening line (“Missy checked where her boyfriend, Mike, had gone.) is kind of ho hum. Maybe use language that ties in her dead-end relationship with Mike to the dead body. For example: On the afternoon that Missy went swimming in Fill-in-the-name-of-the-river, she realized that time passed too quickly to waste. (Or fill in some other statement of theme here.) Her relationship with Mike had reached a dead-end, and she couldn’t ignore it any longer. It all began when… blah blah blah…

    Keep writing, and good luck!

  4. Ellen M. says:

    What I was really trying to do was open like CSI on television . They have a visual and I only have words. It just didn’t work with this scene and that’s good to know. I’ll try something else.

  5. Gentle Reader says:

    I understand what you’re trying to do. Don’t get discouraged. It just needs tweaking. Novel openings often get written and rewritten many times. What’s your premise?

  6. Ellen M. says:

    I have other chapters that may be reworked and moved into the first. The important characters are in them.
    The other thing I can do is write another scene for the discovery.
    Is that what you wanted to know by premise?

  7. Ellen M. says:

    Thanks for the link. Here’s my premise.
    When dead bodies start surfacing in the river of a small peaceful town, a young woman learns a cult is responsible and she must outwitt the wicked leader to save her own family.

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