To be honest, I almost HATED this prompt. It did not appeal to me by any sretch of the imagination. I have never been skiing, have never left the continental United States, and therefore, I had no real basis for which to compose interesting, let alone entertaining, fiction. Forgive me. I have relied on stereotypes and have only laid a thin foundation of any character development. There is not plot, either. I’d advise you to enjoy the piece, but I’d feel like a sarcastic jerk.
PROMPT: Two skiers, one from America and one from France, get stuck together on a ski lift in the Swiss Alps.
PIECE: This was Bernadette’s first time leaving the United States. She decided that after the messy divorce with Dan, but before what was to be a drawn out and ugly custody battle, she’d take a much deserved break. Their only child, a beautiful boy named Nicholas, was with her mother and her father for the week, and would be with Dan the following week. It was not an ideal situation – far from it, actually – but regardless of classification, Bernadette needed a break. She was at the absolute limit of her mental and emotional abilities. Nicholas needed someone stronger than that, so really, this vacation was a time to get her head straight and lace up her ass-kicking boots. She would return home refreshed, renewed and ready for whatever was needed to be handled.
Bernadette closed her eyes and was quietly drifting in a manufactured kind of stillness, and did not notice the man seat himself beside her on the lift. Jacques eyed the woman beside him from the sides of his dark eyes, from the intimate corners with an intrinsic and instinctual dislike and distaste. Jacques had never seen the woman before, which meant she was new to the slopes and the surrounding area; she was a tourist. Therefore, she was an interloper, rudely infringing upon his much needed escape. What with the global economy being what it was and having to watch his company – the one he created from the ground up – slowly but surely go under, he just needed a few days. He knew he was going to have to leave his apartment in France as he could no longer afford the rent. Things were going to be changing for Jacques in gross, major ways. He just needed a few days of skiing to collect his breath and bearings.
Both Bernadette and Jacques just need a break. They were not to get one.
The lift became stuck – technical error? Was it a man-made problem? – halfway up its trek to the top of the hill. Voices rose and floated to Bernadette on a breeze, bubbling and gurgling with frustration and concern. She opened her eyes, looked around, and asked the obvious question: “What’s wrong? What’s happened?”
“The lift is stuck,” Jacques replied flatly. Clearly, he was more annoyed than anything else.
“Does this happen from time to time?” Bernadette asked with timidity. She was trying to rationalize her nerves away and put them far from her. She was looking for compassion, for comfort from a more experienced skier with nerves of steel.
“What do you think?” was Jacques response. He was not going to offer comfort. He was too agitated to do anything other than sit and sulk.
“Are you French?” was Bernadette’s question. The timid aspect to her tone of voice had dissipated and she had adjusted her seat so that she was facing Jacques head on.
“What do you think?” Jacques responded again. Bernadette laughed humorlessly and turned to stare at the frozen tundra below. Suddenly, she wished to be home and she thought how ironic of a sentiment that was, that she laughed again … once more, with feeling.