Day Tripper


“Water gives life. It also takes it away.”

This post is being linked up to The Red Dress Writing Club prompt where we are to write a short piece – fiction or non-fiction – inspired by one or both of these statements in less than 600 words. This is my very first piece of fiction writing! I am very nervous about stepping outside my comfort zone but excited as well. I am looking forward to exploring this story in its entirety!


The waves rumble as they pound toward the sandy beach. My toes are quickly sinking into the soft sand, holding me hostage in one spot. Cold water swirls gently around my ankles before retreating back once more. The warmth of the sun hits my bare shoulders. The aroma of coconut fills my nose completely and a moment later is carried away on the breeze.

The ocean is a place I like to come and think. Ponder all the possibilities and all the what if’s.

My eyes had to adjust from the bright sunlight; to be sure I was not seeing things. Off to my right danced a pink water bottle in the crashing surf. My heart began to race as it knew before my brain did.

“That’s Mandy’s” my lips barely whispered.

I tried to lunge toward the pink speck, which I would not let out of my sight; but my feet, now ankle deep in dark wet sand, were anchored. The tide met me once more creating mini-pools around my legs. With a few hearty rocks back and forth, I was free and sprinting. Plunging into the waves like a hurdler, my hands grasped the rosy nalgene bottle. How many times had this been raised to my daughter’s mouth to quench her thirst? Hundreds? Maybe thousands of times? It still had the black heart shapes drawn all over the surface with black Sharpie. These hearts were to distinguish between hers and mine. We received matching bottles after a 5k charity run for the Susan B. Komen Foundation.

 I am transported back to our kitchen island. Mandy is opening our pen drawer and removing a white opaque pen with a black top.

“What are you doing with that?” I asked.

“Mom, I don’t want you using my bottle!” Mandy answered as she uncapped the permanent marker.

Wiping the counter I said “Does it matter? They are both the same.”

“Exactly! I want mine to be mine and yours to be yours. So, I am drawing hearts on mine. I can decorate yours too if you want. Stars or flowers?” she looked at me with one raised eyebrow, a gift inherited from her father for sure.

“How about stars?” I smiled.
“Stars it is!” she quipped while coloring in the first bubbled heart shape. We both giggled.

“Dear. Dear!” The slight touch on my shoulder shot me back to the present the giggles becoming only echoes.

 “Dear! Are you okay?” A tanned elderly woman, bent at the waist was hovering over me. Her soft white curls flowing around her bug-eye sized sunglasses.
“Are you okay? You ran over here so fast and then it looked as if that wave just took your feet smack out from under you. You’ve been sitting here for a few minutes…holding that.” She said in a gentle voice, pointing to the bottle I had clutched to my chest.
I tried to speak, but my voice was vacant. My mouth opened and then closed .

“Why don’t we stand up and move back just a wee bit. Hmm? Ok? High tide is coming in and I don’t want that big ‘ole sea to just up and take you.” She did not realize the heaviness of her words. She was just being kind and trying to help. She had no idea that the sea had done that to me already. Exactly 72 days ago, it took my youngest daughter from me, without a trace or a clue of where she is.

Until now. I looked down once again and notice there is something in the bottle.

I would love to receive your feedback. Please share in the comments below.

About Kelly Pugliano

Kelly is a lifelong foodie who shares her love of cooking, baking & writing about it on this blog. All recipes & photographs are made in her home kitchen or enjoyed during travels near & far. She has been featured on, iBlog Magazine and Capital Region Living Magazine.

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  1. says

    There’s no way this is your first piece of fiction.

    All I know is that this must not be your last!

    Well drawn characters, plenty of description, to the point that I could taste the salt in the air. I can see all of this happening when I close my eyes.

    Well done. And saying hi from The Red Dress Club!

  2. Brandon says

    ACK!!! NOT COOL!!! I mean, this was fantastic, but you CANNOT LEAVE IT LIKE THAT!!!

    So frustrating…

    You did very well! I am so impressed and proud of you!

  3. says

    Wow!! Very powerful.

    I’m loving this…and I am wanting more. Hopefully, since you said you were going to explore this story in it’s entirety, more will be coming.

    You have a gift for fiction.

  4. says

    Ohhhh…I love the ending. The possibilities for where this could go!

    There are a few spots you could cut words, tighten it up a bit but otherwise it’s quite well done.

    Welcome to the Red Dress Club

    • says

      Thank you! Since this is my first attempt…when you say tighten up, what do you mean? Can you give some examples? Which words should I cut?

  5. CDG says

    I like the non-linear, in the moment time line, and some of the small details, like the daughter getting the wry expression from her dad.

    Like Carrie, I’d say there are places that could be tightened up, but it’s a really intriguing story with solid characters, and I definitely want to read the next installment!

  6. says

    I think this is great. I would absolutely be hooked if I had picked up a book and read this as the first couple of pages. I am sensing a new passion! Can’t wait to read the next installment.

  7. says

    Wonderful job, sucking me in, feeling the beach. The relationship with her daughter. The sucker punch. The cliffhanger.

    Loved it.

    By tighten, they mean eliminate unnecessary words. Example: in “It still had the black heart shapes drawn all over the surface with black Sharpie. These hearts were to distinguish between hers and mine”

    It could be “Hand drawn black heart shapes decorated every surface – the hearts distinguishing between hers and mine.” – you don’t need to even mention the Sharpie because you explain how they got there in a following paragraph. It’s shorter so it’s “tighter.”

    I hope this helps.

    *Disclaimer* I’m new to editing – feel free to disregard any suggestions I make. :-)

    *Kelly K

  8. says

    Wonderful – I think you need way more than 600 words, though! So many places you could take this – better get your typing hands ready – we’ll be waiting for the rest of the story! Good job!

  9. says

    You do fiction well lady, no worries there. Love that this ended with maybe a positive spin and a chance for you to continue this story. Loved this!

  10. says

    What’s in the bottle??! I hope you keep going with this. (I can’t believe it’s your first fiction!)

    I like the memory of Mandy drawing on the water bottle. One of those moments that a mother has with her child that isn’t a big deal at the time but can mean so much when looking back.

    I think the dialogue there could be a little tighter (but I have trouble with dialogue, so maybe I’m not the best person to give this advice!) The sentences are very complete and not exactly how a child would “speak” in real life, if that makes sense.

    Such an interesting piece!

  11. says

    NOT FAIR!!! You can’t leave us hanging like that! That was a great piece. I was hooked, line and sinker. That ending ripped my heart out. She’s grieving, but suddenly she is offered a sense of closure and of hope. Beautiful piece.

  12. Michelle says

    Wow! I just happened on your blog and all I can say is you’re an awesome writer. I love this and I hope you’ll write more. Like everyone else I want to know what’s in the bottle!

  13. says

    I have to know what’s in the bottle! If this is your first piece of fiction, I’m in awe. It flowed so naturally. There were a couple of places that seemed a little loose, but I think it added to her confusion and desparation. Almost like we were in her head.

  14. says

    Your first piece of fiction? If you say so! Great job. I’m hoping that an adventure story will follow of her following the clues to her daughter.

  15. says

    This was phenomenal. I loved it. I can’t believe it was your first fictional work. Wow. Great stuff, truly.

    I get the comments about tightening it, I think you’ll get there the more you write fictional pieces. I edit my own writing CONSTANTLY. 😉

    I do have one other comment, I did notice that you floated between past and present tenses, and I don’t mean the memory *which I loved!* but in the beginning, so that part would need a touch of adjustment for me, unless I am reading it differently than others, then you can ignore me!

    GREAT stuff!

  16. says

    Oh this was so sad. Although I could have had a complete ending but i think this is fine in itself. The intensity with which the events opened their truths in the end was heavy and poignant.

  17. says

    DUDE! This is your FIRST attempt at fiction? This was sooo good! right down to the details of the water bottle! I loved the non-linear as well.

    I think the part where you tell about the hearts on the bottle can maybe be taken out since you have the flashback about them. You could just mention they are there and then flashback. The dialogue between mother and daughter tell why they are there. Does that make sense?

    And now you have to promise to keep going with this story because we all HAVE to know…WHAT IS IN THE BOTTLE!??

  18. says

    I’m SO impressed! Your first time writing fiction? I hope you continue. This was really, really good. I thought for sure she had just drowned, so I liked the twist.

    The flashback to the scene in the kitchen was well done. You did switch tenses – ” I am transported back to our kitchen island. Mandy is opening our pen drawer and removing a white opaque pen with a black top.”

    It should read “Mandy opened our pen drawer and removed…”

    Also, “is opening” is passive, if you are in present tense you would say Mandy opens.

    End of editing lesson! lol

    Really, really great job and I look forward to reading more!

  19. says

    Holy cow, wow! First attempt? You’re a natural. Editing yourself will come with experience (I speak like I’ve been at this for a lifetime, gah). Can’t wait to see what comes next!

  20. says

    As an aspiring writer I am just in awe at your natural writing ability…I actually kind of want to hide my stuff in a random corner somewhere because this is SO much better!

    • Kelly says

      You are too, too kind!! Don’t hide anything in the corner!! I have been so nervous to put my “book” stories down on paper for fear that they would suck so bad…but, this one has been received so well, that I have the confidence to keep going. :)

      Thank you for reading, and I hope you will keep writing!

    • Kelly says

      Thanks! So much more of the story is underway….great twists and turns in the plot!! So excited to go into that world when a new chapter is being written! How is your book coming along?

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