How to Swim (Draft - Looking for feedback!)
How to Swim (Draft - Looking for feedback!) romance stories

tentwentyninety Community member
Autoplay OFF   •   5 months ago
First piece of fiction writing since my GCSE's 6 years ago! Looking for feedback as I consider whether writing is for me, and whether to even continue or not.

Note: I am a photographer by trade and was initially thinking of using this writing as a narrative for a photographic story or short film.

How to Swim (Draft - Looking for feedback!)

A soft glint travelled across the surface, it rode the crests of the waves, forming white peaks as they travelled. But despite the sun it was cold.

To dive beneath the surface would plunge you into a dark, void of sound, world, where the thoughts would run wild.

Emerging to the shallows you would see your reflection, scattered across the blue around you.

It would be easy to find yourself lost here, as so many had done previously.

But like these past explorers of times gone, you would feel content here, floating, bobbing amongst those still here in these rolling waves.

But it would be wrong to assume one should become too comfortable, and to instead expect the inevitable storm that would rock this idyllic peace.

Then, Zoe blinked. I could now once again see her face.

It was a slow blink. As her eyes opened, they veered off to the right with a slight arrogance... a confidence. 'Oh damnit', I thought to myself. I'd given her the wrong answer.

We were sat at a table on the corner of a gentrified cobble street.

Behind us stood a weathered brick wall that had somehow remained untouched for centuries, upon which this Parisian cafe's sign hung. 'Cafe Cuillier' in Montmartre. Zoe let out a sigh.

A singular line of smoke followed her breath as it left her mouth. It lingered in the humid air, only dissipating as she let out another, though this time whinier, sigh.

Here at the table, the sun rays rained down on us.

Where the rays met the silverware resting on the table, they would bounce off in kaleidoscope fashion, bouncing up and somehow finding a way to crawl around my sunglasses, into my eyes.

It stung slightly.

Finally, it was time to speak again. I began to open my mouth to utter my first word. Zoe's lips had already formed a pucker in defense, as if ready to reject what would come from mine.

"How about Mexican?"

Her expression changed; pucker now turned to a grin. Second time lucky it seemed. Her left hand moved slowly towards the ashtray to put out her cigarette.

Accompanied by a crackle, embers spat out as she pressed down. The signs of Zoe's agreement with my idea were seemingly apparent.

A far away clock chimed to notion to Paris that five o'clock had arrived. We had been sitting in our spot for well over two hours now.

Our second coffees now sat in front of us, still lukewarm only by the heat of the sun. Zoe had still not spoken. She was looking at me.

Her eyes lingered on my nose, examining me for the millionth time this day. I copied her and stared back.

She was sat back, the wicker chair in which she rested seemed to fold around Zoe, its frame around hers.

With her head tilted to her right, her neck length, dark brown hair fell over her shoulder. A golden chain wrapped around her neck, holding a small locket that rested on her pale skin.

I noted it was the one item she would never remove. To this day she had left me guessing what the locket contained. Today she wore a cream shirt, with buttons that stopped at her collarbones.

"It's an old Dior top my mother gave me" she had told me that morning. I had told her how nice it looked.

Covering her legs were a pair of white trousers that would flap in the wind. The cuffs of which sat above an aged pair, of what were two once white, trainers.

Zoe liked to walk the streets of her city, rain, shine or snow.

A minute had passed since I had spoken. Her eyes looked away, towards the street, flickering between a well-dressed old lady riding past on a green bicycle and a young boy walking his dog.

To my dismay she swiveled round in her seat and reached for her pack of Marlboro Gold. They were the only brand she smoked. Sometimes it felt as if they were her source of oxygen.

The first time I saw Zoe she had a cigarette perched upon her lips, both the top and underside stained by her red lipstick.

Another cigarette meant she wasn't as satisfied with my answer as I had previously hoped. Another puff of smoke escaped her lips.

She finally spoke, "How about we just walk and see what there is?". As usual she spoke with an air of arrogance, as if to suggest 'Why hadn't you thought of that?'.

I didn't have an answer so decided to nod my head in agreement. In return she let out another sigh, which had now become exasperated. It had become a noise I was all too familiar with.

I now took my turn to reach out for a cigarette. Till meeting Zoe I had only smoked roll ups, as all my friends in England had.

As my hand picked up the packet, rings gleaming in the still present sun, Zoe sat, watching my every move. Her head suddenly cocked to one side as I withdrew a cigarette.

Her left eyebrow raised as if surprised by my actions. To me she resembled a curious puppy. She of course had paid for this packet. A fact she obviously wasn't keen on suppressing.

We had earlier that day, wandered into a local tabac in search of such a packet. The store we found had a low, red door frame. I needed to stoop to enter.

Zoe had spoken to the shopkeeper in her native tongue while I stood behind and tried to absorb as much of what I was hearing as I possibly could,

attempting to translate these foreign sounds into words I could understand.

The elderly man behind the counter moved his head over Zoe's shoulder in order to look at me, wispy white goatee and moustache in tow. He reminded me of Colonel Sanders.

Zoe followed suit and turned to face me as well. They turned back to face each other, uttered a few words in French and giggled. To feel as if I belonged, I let out a small laugh of my own.


Feeling out of place had become something I'd grown accustomed to since stepping off my flight. The flight had only taken an hour, yet home felt so far away.

Some nights I yearned for familiarity, but quickly the draws of this city would once again take their reins.

I now drew a breath of my cigarette as Zoe extinguished hers, before returning to her slumped pose. A welcome breeze rushed past us, taking ash from the table with it.

Zoe's hair fluttered for a moment then settled back in place.

"Time for wine then?" I asked. Impersonating me, she nodded. Zoe then raised her hand in the air to catch a passing waiter's attention. The little man started to stroll over.

He looked older than he likely was. A disheveled blue shirt protruded from his waistband, just managing to reach over his rounded belly.

His tie hung too high up his chest, it's horizontal stripes only broadening his plump figure.

I looked at Zoe and asked, "How about I try order?". A full grin took over her face, eyes sparkling. I could tell she wanted to enjoy the scenario that would soon ensue.

"Monsieur, nous voudrion un bouteille de vin rougue sils vous plait." I managed to say lyrically in my best attempt at the French accent.

A similar grin to Zoe's now appeared on the waiter's face. His hand reached up to part a scruff of hair covering his eyes.

"Of course, sir" he replied. I laughed as I had done in the tabac. The waiter waddled away.

I felt uncomfortable and Zoe noticed. Her grin returned to its resting pose. Perhaps there was some human in her after all.

She spoke in an uncharacteristic voice with a hint of what sounded like pity, "You're getting better". Maybe it was now I who looked like a puppy. I smiled coyly.

Zoe's hand now reached across the table towards mine. Her touch was warm. I looked at her, eyes focusing on hers. She quickly blinked, barring me from entering the blue once again.

Her fingers started to fidget with my sleeve cuff. This was Zoe's way of showing affection.

As we waited a lull in conversation once again befell the table. Instead of the portly waiter of earlier, our bottle of wine arrived in front of us via the tray of a young waitress.

She had auburn hair, curled into a burn behind her head, dark lipstick and amidst her freckles a lonely mole.

Unlike her male colleague, this lady's blue shirt fit perfectly, wrapping around her, complimenting her figure. It was clear to any observant eyes the waitress was very attractive.

Suddenly I winced. Zoe's fingernails had begun to dig into my skin. She too was examining the lady stood tableside. I turned away, from the redhead to the brunette.

Her blue eyes stared through gritted teeth. I noted jealousy.

My relationship with Zoe was undoubtedly a psychological game. Today we had reached our fifth set. I wondered which of us would claim match point come sun set.

The waitress seemed to sense the tension, her hand pouring the wine with a slight tremble. She quickly finished her job, and after a forced smile quickly retreated inside the cafe.

Zoe's claws released.

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