Assignment: Using third-person limited point of view and present-tense verbs, write a short opening scene (@300 words) from an unusual physical perspective. Then write the same scene from a different point of view (@300 words).
Harrison’s limbs are stiff. It takes a painfully long time for them to respond, as if some unseen creature is holding them back. Move, move, move, he tells them, but they are sluggish and heavy, struggling against the weight of his clothes. He feels the panic within him, yet if feels so distant, like it’s not his panic, but someone else’s. He concentrates on staying above the water, tries hard to ignore the chunks of ice spinning and ricocheting off his flailing limbs, tries hard to ignore the darkness that has swallowed him. He feels like he is trapped in the middle of Space Crusaders, that pinball game he likes to play at the bowling alley in town. He is the ball, trying to escape through the bottom hatch, but he has no choice or control over his fate.
He sees Paul and Geoffrey only a few feet away from him and he comprehends that the movement of their lips indicates speech, yet he hears nothing. They circle around the hole in the ice, the hole he is treading in. Throw the rope, throw the rope! Harrison tries to say to them, tries to be them, so he can toss the rope to himself. He knows the water is painfully cold, yet he is numb and only feels the growing weight of his body, pulling him downward. Then, he sees the rope floating next to him, scattering the floating ice and he blinks automatically to avoid the water it flings at him. He grasps the rope and his brain screams to grip it tightly, but his hands seem to ignore his urgency. He senses Paul and Geoffrey’s voices nearby, or far away, he can’t tell anymore, but focuses intently on them, he so desperately wants to be at their sides.
His mind is going numb, but it pushes his limbs again. One last flail of the feet, one last tightening of the fingers. The rope retracts and his body moves. Again, Harrison feels the rope go taught and he begins to notice he is no longer surrounded by the never-ending blackness. With another panic driven pull, the ice is supporting his hips. His mind starts to shut down as his body automatically begins to roll sideways, across the fluffy white snow and away from the watery abyss.
The far-reaching whiteness of the ice is cold, but Paul likes it. He likes how the wind flattens the ice and snow, making it look clean and crisp. He barely remembers the blues and greens of summer, barely understands how this is the same place. The pristine white is broken up by distant black specks, of fishers out for a long day on the ice. Here, but a few feet away, is their hole, disrupting the vast white desert. Instead of a perfect round black circle, it is jagged, and Harrison’s head is bobbing among the angular pieces of ice. Paul can also see waves stirring, but traces of Harrison’s arms under the water. Paul no longer feels the frigid cold air, for he is hot with adrenaline. He watches Harrison struggling to keep the waterline at his neck, his face contorted in pain and panic. Harrison tries to climb out, to be back on the white shores, and Paul calls to his friend, yearning to have him back at eye-level.
Paul tears his eyes away to spy their backpack lying strapped to the sled just as they had left it. He trips over Geoffrey, who is still frozen in place, and makes it to the pack. Fumbling, Paul digs through their stuff, why do they bring so much stuff with them anyway? He finds the rope at the bottom and pulls it out, their thermos’s, snacks, and extra mittens spilling out the sides of the bag. “Geoffrey!” he urges. Together, they untangle the rope and Paul swiftly throws the rope to Harrison, who is painfully slow at acknowledging it next to him. “Harrison! Come on! You can do it!” He and Geoffrey both call to Harrison, it is so close to him. Harrison grasps at the black water and finally snatches onto the rope. Paul and Geoffrey dig their heels into the ice and pull backwards in unison. They exhale together and lean back again. Their spirits lift as Harrison edges forward out of the enveloping blackness. With another tug, Harrison is out of the water. Paul is sweating and his breath is hot and steamy against the frigid air.