Beneath the Water – Seed of a Dream

The harsh fluorescent lights lit the cafeteria, glaring off the linoleum tile floor. I shuffled slowly, taking my place in line, the repulsively familiar aroma of mystery meat and poorly cooked vegetables permeating the room.

The line moved too quickly, speeding up the inevitable.

I avoided the hot food side and grabbed a sandwich, thankful an option existed given the stench.

Plate in hand I walked, no longer hunched over, eyes downcast and hiding like the year before. My gaze was determined, challenging anyone who dared interfere with my goal. I passed rows of the classic lunch room tables: dark brown benched ones that folded in half for storage, eight people to each side.

I reached the far corner and sat at the very end of the last table.

It was my spot, and had been for over a year.

A quick glance to the opposite end showed me the same story as every school day before.

Laughter. Whispers. Looks.

As the months sped by, the ones directed at me became fewer, as my stoic reaction no longer gave Them the thrill of drawing fresh blood.

I no longer cared…. much.

The third girl blatantly ignoring me was my secret friend. It was an unspoken rule between us: I didn’t exist when They were around, and as a reward we could hang out when the other two were busy.

The rest of the time I was alone.

As I slowly bit into the unappetizing sandwich, I counted down the minutes to escape: every lunch and recess I was a prisoner led to my weekday torture.

Everyone had someone, groups of friends formed years ago; everybody had their place.

Until last year, my place was with Them.

Then I was tossed overboard and found myself in the ocean. Floating. Lost. No one to ask for help. No one close to pull me out – all others busy with their own previously formed clique of friends.

At first, I swam with all my strength, in denial over my fate, fighting to prove I was worthy.

Then an epiphany.

I stopped and treaded water, realizing They were not worthy of Me.

I found myself alone, no life raft around. No safe haven.

But beneath me, under the waves, was a world to explore – one I had visited when little and abandoned as I grew up.

I ceased the fight to stay afloat and sank far beneath the surface.

As I drifted down, my legs transformed into a tail as the orange walls became a castle on the ocean floor. The greasy stench evaporated as I discovered the sweet scent of the brilliant coral reef before me.

I forgot the other world, full of backstabbing cruelty and isolation, as I flicked my fin and swam toward the castle.

In this world, I was never lonely.

This was where I would live during my future lunches, bus rides, and recesses – giving life to a dormant part of me: My Imagination.

They had unknowingly gifted me with the seed of a future dream: to be a writer.

Thank you.


A Red Dress Club writing prompt

The Red Dress Club: This week’s assignment is to write a short piece, either fiction or non-fiction, about something ugly – and find the beauty in it.

Word limit is 600.

A special thanks to my writing partner Kirsten for her feedback! Also to MadsBloggingMom for tossing random ideas my way until it sparked the idea to revisit this time in my life.

This (nonfiction) story takes place about a year after Rising from the Ashes to be a Better Person, the post I did for the first remembeRED “Gift of 5 Minutes” prompt.

As always, I greatly appreciate constructive criticism – I want to improve and continue my dream.


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos ( sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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44 Responses to Beneath the Water – Seed of a Dream

  1. Leighann says:

    I’m speechless
    I’m lost in visions of mermaids and underwater worlds.
    Where there are no bullies, no lonely feelings.
    Just happiness.
    This is spectacular

  2. Lizz says:

    Wow. I was wondering how you’d bring this back around to beauty, and love how you did just that. Fantastic!

  3. Shari Green says:

    Wow! Powerful. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

  4. LindsayK says:

    Oh, that was beautiful.

  5. Trish Loye Elliott says:

    Wow, you are an excellent writer. I read the previous post as well as this one. Nice work. Lot of Showing rather than Telling which really gets the emotion across. Love these posts! Don’t ever worry about putting them up, they will strike a cord in everyone who reads them.
    When are you going to start your next novel?

  6. Mandyland says:

    Oh wow. I’ve got goosebumps. Goosebumps!

    This was so amazing. I didn’t see where you were going. I was trying to see where the beauty would lie in the ugliness of the room, in the ugliness of the situation, in the ugliness of the people.

    And then, there it was. The whole world was transformed.

    Awesome job.

  7. I adored every word of this. I cringed and then I flipped my tail with you! This was such a creative take on the prompt and I am thrilled that you shared it with us!
    I really can’t find any other words, so…..


    Thank God you are a writer!

  8. tracy says:

    This is just incredible! I could feel every word and see the scenes. Wonderful.

  9. Frelle says:

    oh girl.


    Im so sorry, but so glad at the same time. My escape into my imagination, especially aided by headphones and music, is the gift they gave to me.

    This was

  10. tsonoda148 says:

    So well done. This touches so many parts of the heart and mind, especially for those of us who may have experienced something similar. Yes, writer indeed!

  11. Erin says:

    LOVE This! I was in that same spot when my father died and no longer fit in! So excellently put, and your writing is amazing!

  12. I love this interpretation of the prompt and it’s beautifully written. Are you swimmer? You have had a strong connection to the water in both this piece and the one last week. And those friends that deserted you? I have so been there. So much of your life is shaped by the people that do you wrong. In a good way.

    • I am not a “swimmer” – no grace exists in my movements while attempting swimming strokes. I can swim, but I prefer to keep my head above water. I grew up in Iowa, about as far from any oceanic body of water possible.

      I first met the ocean on a family trip to Disney World at 13. Too cold to swim, I stood, fascinated, as the indescribable pull of the tide whisked sand away from beneath my feet – inspiring many school daydreams.

      The release of The Little Mermaid might have helped.

      I wouldn’t see it again until college when I went to Puerto Vallarta, scuba diving for the first time.

      Forget the drinking and the sunbathing – I wanted to stay beneath the water and bathe in the quiet solitude as fish swam so close you could touch them.

      I can count on one hand the number of times I have visited the ocean – only furthering its appeal.

      Just not by swimming.

      My life is very shaped by my social world falling apart, in both positive and negative ways. I am who I am and I don’t apologize for it or change to please anyone.

      Glad I fished you out of spam.

      • What a gift! A piece of writing just for me!

        It’s so interesting that you are so drawn to the water yet have only seen it a handful of times. I have a weird relationship with the water myself. I think it stems from hating myself in a bathing suit and not wanting to get my hair wet. Both incredibly incredibly pathetic behaviors.

        Regarding social standing in high school, we should have lunch. We’d have lots to talk about.

        • I get the bathing suit thing. Put me in pool, surrounded by my peers, and I’m the dork in the fishbowl without water.

          Put me in the water, the ocean, and give me tank of oxygen? I’m at home. And in a wetsuit, eliminating that whole bathing suit issue.

          Now I want to write more about water. I love inspiration.

          I’d love to have lunch. First, if you like shopping, I need a makeover so you’ll be seen with me in public. I’m a What not To Wear poster child, hindered equally by my lack of free time to shop with two toddlers, and my DNA lacking the fashion gene.

          Also, whatever enables one to sing in key (think Tom Cruise in Top Gun – he’s better), but if I don’t burst into spontaneous song you should be able to live with that.

          • I was actually just on the phone with my friend and we were talking about our mutual aversion to the water and she said it’s because we are both sagitarius(es?) Apparently, it’s a fire sign. I don’t tend to believe in astrological anything but it makes for an interesting theory.

            As for lunch, we could skip it and go shopping instead. At the moment, I believe I still look reasonably in style. But my kid is only a year old. Which means I haven’t bought a stitch of new clothing since I got pregnant (with the exception of maternity wear). So give me a few months and I’ll be out-of-date and untrendy with the best of them.

  13. Kir says:

    OH wow, it’s SO good. I felt all those things with you. The ending is just PERFECT. It’s even better than the draft. YOU did all this, it’s so GOOD.
    You really know how to weave words, make me SEE something. Great job!!!

  14. craig says:

    Cliques are ugly. And the prettiest ones can be the ugliest. And you became a mermaid – brilliant analogy – and the ugly turned you into this – “a seed of a future dream”. I heart this!!!!

    Let’s see….

    What was my favorite line? “I was a prisoner led to my weekday torture” – anyone who has been at this recess – knows that torture.

    God Bless and Keep you and yours

  15. Kelly G says:

    Amen sistah! I could smell that nasty cafeteria and felt the shame. Great job! I think my favorite bit was your use of the Them vs We vs Me. And to find the silver lining in all of the adolescent torture…that is the calling card of strength, m’dear.

  16. Oh this took my breath away. Really. I hardly breathed when I read it–the pain was palpable. And then so was the triumph. What a story. And what a triumph. I too am glad you’re a writer. Eff ’em.

  17. Elaine says:

    It can be a terrible, sinking feeling being left out. But you turned it into a glorious swim. Congratulations. Beautiful.

  18. Loving the way you responded to the prompt – what a bold vision and a harsh reality. It is remarkable that you took away such a strong dream from such a trying time. Kids suck.

    I have to say, when someone asks for concrit, I normally do my best to supply something. But this was truly a well crafted piece, with a strong opening, great structure and a perfect-note ending.

    I think I learned about writing just reading it, and have no doubt you will hit your goal of becoming a writer, becuase you already are.


  19. Yeah, I rock.
    Kidding. I’m so glad I could help though I had no idea what I sparked. This was so cool. That word sucks but really, I just loved what you did here. I felt the loneliness, the torture and then the beauty of the escape into your own world. And you were singing my song (love the water imagery!)

  20. Shell says:

    The mean girls. How clueless they were about their cruelty. But, those of us who survived came out stronger.

  21. Really loved the imagery of falling into the imagination. Very powerful.

  22. angela says:

    Excellent job! I was reading some of the book “Odd Man Out” today at the library (book about aggressive behavior/bullying in girls), and this is such an honest example of that problem. I LOVE that you were able to take yourself away from that world and find the gift of imagination and the ability to express it inside yourself.

  23. MamaRobinJ says:

    Having read the previous piece, I knew this was going to end up somewhere good. Totally didn’t see the imagination taking hold – what a great ending, both in life and in writing.

  24. Jessica says:

    Oh so good, this is amazing, reflecting on your childhood is an amazing strong point in your writing. My stomach was in knots through this whole thing. I hated those girls for you but am so glad your imagination grew from it all and you are here to share your words with us. So, so good.

  25. Jennie B says:

    This post really moved me, and I truly became immersed in your words.

  26. Galit Breen says:

    Really wonderfully done. A perfect view of the circle of life, how things work out and have meaning. I did want to hug that girl, though.

  27. Yuliya says:

    Oh we have all been there? Haven’t we? And so I ask, who were the bullies? Where are they now?

    So beautifully written, great job. And of course I will now go back in space and time and sit at that table with you!

  28. kris says:

    As a woman who was a small girl who spent much of her time in the world of imagination, I adored this post. In my imagination, nothing was as it really was . . . everything was so much better in my mind. Weird, then, that as an adult, I am so much more comfortable with truth than fantasy.

    Fantasy seems weak to me.

    Truth. I will speak the truth and shove it down their throats. I will not be forced into escape.

    But as a child, I sought refuge.

    And I see the child that you were.

    Thank you.

  29. I;ve never really thought about it from that angle. It is definitely an ugly turned into a beauty here. I love the orange fins, and the castle under the sea and how you lived there. YOu made me want to live there too.

  30. Amy says:

    I can so see that child. I want to reach out to her, to tell her that she’s not alone. I saw the “ugly” so clearly that I was afraid there wasn’t going to be any beauty. The beauty surprised me so much with its, well, beauty. Gorgeously described. Loved this!

    Here from TRDC!

  31. Karen says:

    How wonderful that the child found a place to retreat to – imagination and writing – when life was unkind. We all need a place where we can find comfort when things are rough. I love your writing, too. So well done!

  32. Mandy says:

    This is so fantastic! I only hope my own children can have such strength when faced with bullies in school :/ I remember it so clearly, and your writing describes it perfectly – the feelings, the physical manifestation of the emotions.

    Wonderfully done. Three cheers for your imagination. 🙂

  33. Kelly says:

    Wow. This was so good. I hate to read of such sadness in kids….and I am sorry you went through this pain….

    And I am soooo glad you became a writer! I have enjoyed reading your prompts!!

  34. In the end? They unwittingly gave you a gift. Something they couldn’t take away.
    Something beautiful.

    Hugs you!

  35. Anne says:

    Jumped over here from Pretty All True. Loved this post! I was surprised, when I looked up from my computer, to see the walls of my house instead of the walls of my high school cafeteria. Beautifully written…..

  36. Angie says:

    A wonderfully evocative piece. Loved it.

  37. Pingback: The Road and the Green Glow | Writing with Chaos

  38. I just read part three/detour prompt and hopped back, realizing I must have missed your writing on the ugly/beauty prompt…and I’m glad I did!

    First, yes, this gave me the missing background I needed for your part three of this story. I could feel your pain, your isolation. And loved what a treasure you rediscovered in being forced to tap into your imagination to survive the loneliness. You definitely transformed the ugly behavoir you encountered into something beautiful and we’re lucky to read the outcome. :>

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