QUESTIONS • by J.D. Rice

I break the surface of the water, gasping for air, spitting dirty seawater from my mouth. I glance around. She’s watching me from a distance, her head bobbing above the gentle waves. Annoyed. She’s been asking the same question for five minutes now. “What’s so important down there?”

She clings to the side of the paddleboat, slowly drifting farther away from me. And yet, here I am, in the middle of the bay, diving again and again, looking for that lost piece of our perfect day. How could I tell her what I’m looking for now?

“I think I lost my cell phone,” I lie, before crashing beneath the surface once again.

She waits. So patient. Why couldn’t today have gone as I planned? I wonder, sinking deeper into the murky water. Why do things always turn out like this? Why can’t one thing ever go right?

My fingers reach the muddy floor of the bay, searching. My lungs burn. Can’t I hold the air in a little longer?

No, my body answers. I surface again. She’s looking more agitated by the second. The perfect day is ruined.

“Please, would you just let it go?” she insists, struggling not to lose hold of the boat. I don’t bother to answer and dive again. When I surface, I find that she’s even farther away from me. The tides? Must be. But I can’t wait. I don’t give her a chance to question my actions again before diving. The water is so murky, I can’t see anything when I open my eyes. I can only feel with my hands, grasping, searching.

What will she think? I ask myself, that I care more about a stupid cell phone than her?

I stay under longer this time, letting the fire in my lungs linger. Wherever my hands go, I find only mud, sea shells, and the occasional nipping claws of a crab. Finally I rise again for air. Gasping, I look around me, searching for the drifting paddleboat, and for her. The distance between us is widening.

I take a moment to breathe and watch her. Her brown hair is tinted green from the water. A piece of seaweed dangles from one ear. Somehow, despite all this, she is still beautiful.

Then she asks, “Do you want me to help you?”

Unexpected, but isn’t this exactly why I’m in love with her? Why do things have to go the way I plan? I realize. Why can’t today be perfect just as it is?

Smiling, I make my way over to the boat.

“Forget about it,” I say, giving up on my search, “I’ll help you with the boat.”

She smiles.

“But first, I have to ask you a question.”

J.D. Rice is a seminary student and aspiring writer living in Winona Lake, Indiana. His work has also been featured at 365 Tomorrows and

Rate this story:
 average 4.3 stars • 3 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Sheila

    Good story. I like the way you resist spelling out what he’s looking for and the question he’s going to ask at the end. Builds suspense nicely in the mid-section, too.

  • If he is going to ask her to marry him and he was looking for the engagement ring that he dropped overboard the story is brilliant. It’s the only thing that makes sense. Somehow, you suggest this very early in the story. That’s awsome. The story is tight and very well written.

  • I gave the story five stars.

  • Sandra Crook

    Not a lot happens in this flash, but what does happen is well-portrayed. I liked the effect of leaving the reader to conclude what he’s looking for, and what the question is. Enjoyed it. Thanks for the read.

  • ajcap

    I GOT IT! I’m so impressed with myself, usually I’m left feeling kind of dense at the end of some stories.

    And very impressed with the story. Had no idea what he was looking for until the very last line. And I like the idea that she was drifting away from him. And I like that he realized things didn’t have to be planned to be good. All that packed into one little piece of flash. I am impressed.

    I would have left out ‘I wonder’, though. Stating the obvious.

  • Rose Gardener

    First time I read it I missed the point entirely and thought ??
    Then I read the comment on the engagement ring and suddenly it fell into place and I absolutely loved it!
    On second reading it went from 1 star to 5 stars just like that- so perhaps for the thick or unromantic amongst your readership (like myself),you should consider adding something about the ring. Perhaps even a hint from the sparkle of a diamond would go unseen in such murky waters?

  • It’s not often that a story makes me say, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!” This one did. Thanks for a delightfully romantic piece of flash, JD!

  • Jen

    At first, I totally missed the point, I wondered what he was really looking for and why he didn’t want her to know. Then near the end I thought, “Oh, he’s looking for a ring!” Very cute story, it captures a great slice of life. I wouldn’t make it any more obvious that he’s looking for a ring, it adds suspense to the story.

  • P.K.D. fan

    Being a chap with an I.Q. of about -100, I didn’t get it either. When I read the comment on the engagement ring (thank you Mr Hogan), the story made perfect sense. No stars to 5 stars in 1 second flat!

  • Kit

    I thought it was perfect. Five stars.

  • Rob Walker

    Wonderfully written Mr. Rice! I very much enjoyed the gripping search and the conclusion of not having every be perfect to still be perfect. I can relate very well.

  • Rob

    I understood it perfectly. I gave an extra star for saying so much with so few words.

  • vondrakker

    Seems like there’s no resolution to this piece of flash fiction…..????
    4 stars more ques than answers

  • Amanda

    Vondrakker – The resolution is that he realized that he didn’t need the proposal to go as planned for it to be special and memorable. He realized that his love for her and her love for him was strong enough to get past the fact that he lost the ring. He decides to propose to her anyways, and the story ends letting the reader imagine the response. It’s actually very clever, pulling the reader into the story and leaving them thinking about it afterwards.
    Wonderful story, so romantic! 5 stars!

  • Simone

    A sucker for romance, I hoped early on that it was a ring he’d lost, but then I worried he’d get hurt or drown. It’s a talented writer who can make me worry about what’s going to happen next. Excellent read. Five stars from me.

  • I thought it was perfectly clear what he was looking for. Very well done. The only thing I wondered was why her hair was tinted green from the water, but then again, it was pretty murky.

  • Whitney

    What a great story, Jeremy! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! 5 Stars.

  • Linda G

    Yes, definitely 5 stars. Show, don’t tell, and the author did just that. I wouldn’t add anything more to clarify. I think the last line gives the reader what they need to make the connection if they didn’t “get it” early on.

  • Well done flash.

  • I knew that this was about a lost engagement ring by the end of the first paragraph. The title helped give it away. I enjoyed reading it, though.

  • BUD

    I had problems with this. I missed that it was a ring he was looking for and I read the piece about three times while reviewing everybody’s comments too. I have to give it only 3 stars.


  • Very well done, sir! 5 stars

  • Saint

    Nicely polished, but I find that a good spit-shine will do a piece a bit more good

  • I could guess the climax but the story just nearly perfect. 4 stars.

  • Corina Marie

    Jeremy– this left me with so many questions, yet satisfied me at the same time… awesome read 🙂

  • Alanna

    This story is more than awesome 🙂 The more I read it, the more I like it! Always keep writing, Bud. 🙂

  • P.K.D. fan

    You could say this story has a certain “ring” to it!
    I give myself 5 stars for the bad pun.

  • L.K.M.

    You maintain a really good flow – but can we see more dialogue from both characters? It seems like there’s more to be discovered.

  • Ivan L.

    I loved the buildup and sweet ending. Makes me miss diving though, so you have done a fantastic job good sir!

  • Aida

    that was short and sweet. i liked it, keep up the writing Jeremy!