This week’s Flash Fiction Friday is a mish-mash using the two prompt words left in last week’s post (whānau and traffic), and the three concepts from P.T. Wyant’s most recent Wednesday’s Words post (a man in odd clothing, a tattered book, and a whistle).
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Casey reached back for Hemi’s hand as they crossed the small stream between the car park and the sands of Hot Water Beach on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula. “I thought we’d never get here.”
“I hate dealing with heavy traffic,” Hemi replied.
“Aw, it wouldn’t have been bad except for that accident.” Casey turned his head to flash a grin at his boyfriend. “Anyway, we still got here at a good time.”
Hemi glanced at his watch and nodded. “It’s an hour ’til low tide.”
“Perfect timing, in fact.” Casey lifted their shovel in salute. “Best ‘hot tubs’ ever.”
A cluster of people of varying ages—an extended family group, perhaps—straggled along behind them with their own shovels and buckets. Casey had to restrain himself from making an obvious double-take at the older man’s outfit. Not so much the incompatible pattern matchup between his swim trunks and open shirt, which was funny enough, but the socks he wore with his sandals. Socks. With sandals. On a beach. Not only that, they appeared to be hand knitted or crocheted socks. He carried a well-worn book in one hand, and a women’s large floppy hat in the other.
The group settled nearby at the tide line. Casey shrugged, dropped his towel, and began digging their own personal, natural, hot springs spa. The water that would bubble up from the coastal springs was rich in beneficial minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Simply put, it was an amazing experience, and he looked forward to a tranquil hour or so with Hemi.
He dug out a big enough pool for the two of them in no time at all. Hemi used the bucket they’d brought to fetch some ocean water to adjust the temperature in their little spa. They were all smiles as they slathered on sunscreen, then sat and leaned back on their elbows to wallow in the soothing heated water. Casey leaned across to drop a quick kiss to the corner of Hemi’s mouth, then closed his eyes and lifted his face toward the sun.
They both jumped when a shrill blast of a whistle shattered the calm. Casey brought a hand to his heart and turned toward the source of the noise. The whistle still hung from the old man’s lips. The child standing near the water’s edge turned and ran back to the group at the man’s hand gesture.
Casey turned with wide eyes at the sound of Hemi’s chuckle. “Really?” Casey mouthed the word, but remained silent. Not that he was surprised Hemi would be more amused than annoyed. Nor could he really blame the old man, even for that piercing blast, considering the reputation of the riptides at this beach.
Hemi smiled serenely and lifted a shoulder. “Reminds me of my whānau.”
Ah. His large, extended family. Well, they’d produced a warm-hearted and congenial young man in Hemi, so Casey was inclined to disregard the interruption to his meditation. It wasn’t as if it was a private beach, after all.
They rested their heads on the sand piled around the edge of their little bath, and Hemi’s hand slipped into his. With the distraction of Hemi’s thumb skimming back and forth along Casey’s wrist, he barely even noticed when the old man started reading aloud from the tattered book he’d brought.
Wikipedia: Whānau (Māori pronunciation: [ˈfaːnaʉ]) is a Māori-language word for extended family, now increasingly entering New Zealand English, particularly in official publications.
Maoridictionary.co.nz: 2. (noun) extended family, family group, a familiar term of address to a number of people – the primary economic unit of traditional Māori society. In the modern context the term is sometimes used to include friends who may not have any kinship ties to other members.
Leave a prompt word in the comments, below, and I’ll use it in next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please, up to 15 total.