The Fifteen Minute Novel: Day 235

The Fifteen Minute Novel is a novel written fifteen minutes at a time with each week day’s section starting with the sentence from the previous day. At least it is attempting to be a novel. For now I am just aiming at one continuous story, worked on for fifteen minutes each day. Started Friday January 1st, 2021 (in case you want to search for the beginning. I can’t wait to see where it ends up. It could be good, or it could be a mess. We’ll have to see. For now, here is today’s fifteen minutes.

Monday, November 29th: Day 235: ‘There is no telling now,’ he thought losing his smile at the memory.

‘There is no telling now,’ he thought losing his smile at the memory. Whether by accident or design his mother was gone.  He felt the emptiness inside him.  They weren’t close.  She was a hard woman to get close to.  But she was still a part of him.

The line moved forward and James tried to shake off the feelings as he stepped up to the counter.  The friendly clerk looked at him with curiosity.  “Hi,” James said, feeling suddenly self-conscious. “I’m here to talk to Joel about dive lessons.”

Her smile brightened.  “Of course,” she said.  “Let me call back and get him for you.” She reached for a phone under the counter, dialed a number and told Joel he arrived.  James thanked her and stepped to the side so he could wait without hindering the line.  Behind him a small boy marched up to the counter, a bag of water containing two swimming fish inside.  He kept poking the bag and looked dangerously close to bursting it.  His mother paid no attention to him and focused on the girl behind the counter. 

James took another step to the side, away from the counter and possibly exploding fish bag.  He might end up getting wet in a dive tank but he had no desire to be doused by fish water while standing on dry land.

“James?” someone said.  James turned away from the boy with the bag and faced the man he guessed to be Joel.  Joel was Tall Blond and well-muscled.  He looked vaguely like he stepped off a beach themed advertisement.  A surfer momentarily dressed for walking on dry land. James tried not to find him intimidating as they shook hands.

“So you are looking to dive,” Joel said.  “Any specific reason? Vacation coming up? Anniversary?”

James smiled.  “I suppose that would be a good reason.  I don’t have anything that concrete.  I realized the other day that I always wanted to learn how to dive and always let myself get talked out of it.  So I thought, why not look into learning now.”

James offered a half smile, feeling a bit lame. Joel nodded at him as though this was a perfectly reasonable explanation.

“At least you don’t have completely unrealistic expectations at this point.  We’ve had people want to become experts overnight so at least you don’t have a preset timetable,” Joel told him.

“Well, I don’t really expect to become an expert,” James said.  “I just thought it would be fun to try.” 

James followed Joel back to the back of the building moving further away from the child with the bag.  Behind him he heard an ominous pop and a splash followed by the low wail of a small boy now holding a broken plastic bag.  There was a frantic rush to save the fish, but Joel kept walking and James followed having no desire to ride to the rescue.

James expected to be led to an office, but instead he was led to a back room with a large tank.  There were three people in the tank, one of whom looked like an instructor.  All three had scuba gear on. There was little James could make out on any of those faces behind the masks. James listened as Joel ran him through the details of classes.  The classes seemed to combine learning things out of the water and then practicing them in the water.

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