The First Line: Totality

Besides the Chuck Wendig prompts I do each week I also try to complete the prompt from The First Line each quarter.  The First Line is a journal that publishes four times a year and, each quarter, provides a prompt in the form of a sentence that is to be used as the first line in your story.  There are no restrictions on genre or form, but every story in each issue opens with the same first line.

I have been making sporadic submissions to TFL for several years now and have never succeeded in being published.  This is my submission for the current issue, which I sent in at the beginning of May.   This isn’t one of the best things I’ve ever written, but I had forgotten about the deadline and had to throw it together on the last day.  I figured it wouldn’t get published.  I’ll try to get an earlier start next time.  Please to enjoy!


The plan suddenly made sense.  Toby looked at Gar and grinned.  “We can do this,” he said.

Gar nodded, but didn’t say a word.  She’d been telling him since Tuesday that everything would work out.  The fact that it took him this long to see it didn’t faze her in the slightest.  In fact, she had accounted for it in the timing.  She knew him that well.

The eclipse was tomorrow.  That meant they had to be in positon tonight if they were going to pull it off.  She already had a spot picked out.  She’d chosen it more than six months earlier, when she first read stories of the eclipse.  She realized there would be a lot of interest in the event and recognized the opportunities it presented.

Ten minutes later they were in the car.  They were heading downtown when there was a quiet ping.  Gar looked over at Toby, who was driving.  “What was that?”

He shrugged, then the indicator light caught his eye.  He grunted.  “Gas.  Light just came on.”

It’s okay, thought Gar.  I built in some extra time.  I knew we’d have to stop for something.  They pulled into the Shop & Save.  While Toby filled the tank she went inside and bought a Snickers bar and a bottle of water.  She got Toby a grape Fanta.  The old guy at the register—his name tag called him Frank—smiled and rang her up.

“Big day tomorrow, eh?” he said.

“You have no idea,” said Gar.  She picked up her purchases and headed out to the car.  Toby was waiting for her, having pulled up to the door from the pump.  He cackled when she gave him the soda she’d bought him.

“My favorite!  Thanks, Gar,” he said.

Gar nodded a reply and waved her Snickers bar in a “that way” motion.  As she took her first bite Toby backed out, made the left onto Redmond, and headed for the park.

They slept in the car in the lot beside the Green.  As she squirmed in the backseat trying to find a comfortable spot, Gar wondered if she could have waited until this morning to leave.  Then she could have at least slept in her own bed.  When she awoke, though, she decided it was worth it.

Dawn shone through the windshield.  She opened the door and got out.  She walked out onto the Green.  The dew sparkled and dusted her shoes and a clean, fragrant breeze carried the morning to her across the vast expanse of grass.  She couldn’t see the sun yet, but its light was rosy and new in the sky to the east.

“It’s gonna be a good day,” said Toby, coming up beside her.  He put an arm around her and hugged her close.  She smiled and stood on her toes.  She gave him a kiss on the cheek.  Every now and then he was the charmer she remembered from college.

“You set up,” she said.  “I’ll go get breakfast.”

She drove over to McDonald’s, where she bought McMuffins and hash browns.  As she came back down Redmond she saw the kid with the arrow sign getting ready to go to work outside the pawn shop.  He’s out early today, she thought, and in a fit of good mood and optimism, pulled up beside him and offered him one of the extra hash browns she had bought.  “Hey, man, thanks,” he said, and waved as she drove off.

Gar got back to the park with a big smile on her face and saw that Toby had done exactly what he was supposed to while she was gone.  Their chairs were set up, the cameras were out and organized, and he had remembered to put everything on the tall, flat rock as she had asked.  She had wanted that rock, and had gotten here last night to make sure she got it.  It was the highest point on the Green and would give the best view of the eclipse.

She gave Toby his breakfast and they settled in for the morning.  The eclipse wouldn’t start for another three hours.  They had time.

Three hours later the Green was two-thirds full and no one had a better vantage point than Gar and Toby.  She smiled.  Her plan had worked.  She had a camera out and a clear shot of the sky when the first piece of the sun disappeared.

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