A Story That Occurs Only in Dialogue

“Not that way – the water’s too rough. Cut a little to the right and we should be able to make it between the logs.”


“There we go. Should be smooth at least to the next bend.”



“Mm hmm.”

“Ted…what are you thinking about? You seem lost.”

“No…I’m right here. Just soaking it in. It’s good to be on the river again. Sun’s finally out, birds are singing.”

“It is nice. But are you sure? It’s just felt a little tense since we left.”

“Hm. I suppose. You sure you want to do this? It’s a mighty fine day out here. Be a shame to ruin it. ”

“Ted, that’s not fair. When you’re off in your own world I can’t enjoy all this. I’m not here for the scenery. You know that.”

“I’m just sayin’, let’s enjoy what we have while we have it.”

“While we have it?”

“Mm hmm. Say, look at the tree over there – looks like it’s just barely hanging on.”

“I see it.”

“Feels familiar somehow.”

“I’m not sure what you mean. There’s a rock up there – I think we should go left of it. But what do you mean about that tree feeling familiar. You’re giving me a bad feeling.”

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to. I like it when you’re happy.”

“Thanks I guess. It’s just that when you say things like that I get worried. Like you’re going to tell me something awful. I don’t know…I’ve just felt so lucky these last six months. And I just don’t want anything to happen to what we have. But I just get so worried sometimes and then you go saying things like that about the tree back there. Tree.”

“I heard you.”

“No – there’s a tree ahead.”


“Anyway, sometimes I just worry that it’s all going to come crashing down. Like maybe I’ve fooled myself into believing I could be happy again. I’m sorry, I’m probably just making a big fuss over nothing.”

“Hmm. Yeah. I suppose that’d be a thing that could happen after the way he left you.”

“Ted. You’re not gonna leave me. I know it. I just have trouble believing it sometimes.”

“Yep. Say is that rapids I hear round the bend?”

“Rapids? Oh yes…yes there are. I can’t see them yet though.”

“Ya know….I kind of enjoy the rapids. How about you?”

“You know me. You know I’d prefer to be on a lake. I mean, what I’d prefer to be drinking hot chocolate back in the cabin. I can feel my heart beating faster already just thinking about the whitewater up there.”

“Kinda fun, innit?”

“Oh whatever Mr. Outdoorsman. If it makes you feel more alive I guess it’s alright.”

“Funny thing…feeling alive”

“We’re gonna have to keep to the left up here Ted. It’s all shallow on the right. I don’t like the look of those rocks on the left though.”

“A little louder up front – I can’t quite hear you with the water.”

“I said ‘Keep Left.’”

“But the big rocks are there.”

“Yeah but it’s too shallow on the right. Too shallow – too many rocks – No! To the left. Left. Left. Left! Left!”

“Push off it!”

“I can’t! We’re gonna get stuck”

“Push off with your paddle – we can’t get crosswise.”

“I’m trying Ted! But it. I can’t get it… It’s just I’m too… It’s…Why didn’t you go left!?!”

“OK OK OK. hold up. Hold up. Hold up. We got this. I just gotta back us up. Alright push off the rock as hard as you can with the paddle and then keep pushing off – we don’t want to get turned around here and go through the rocks backward. Alright, I think I can get us free…I just… Ok…Push…Push…Push…Push!”

“I’m pushing!”

“OK it’s going we’re getting free. No NO NO – not backwards! Paddle backward! Left! Now!”



“I was afraid back there.”

“Well, that makes sense, Sally. But we’ve got a nice fire and a good lunch here on the shore. We’ll dry out.”

“No…I don’t mean the water.”


“I just…it seems like every time it gets going rough that I end up on my own.”

“Well, what? Were you thinking I was gonna jump out the canoe and leave you there in the rocks on your own?”

“What do you think? Yes. I was afraid of that. I was afraid that you were going to say that I wasn’t doing a good enough job. That it was my fault we were stuck. It’s what stupid Roger did.”

“Well hopefully I’m not stupid like stupid Roger.”


“Well, I’m sorry that I made you afraid. I do like the rapids.”

“I know.”

“Sal, there is something though.”


“It’s just…you know that tree back there. The one that was just hanging on?”

“I remember it, but Ted what is it? You look like you’re in pain.”

“Sal, when you’re going down the river and you get in a tight place and there’s all that noise and movement and it feels scary, what’s the one thing that would make it worse than anything else?”

“Being alone.”

“I found something out this week Sal. And I guess I don’t know if you’re gonna want to stay in the canoe with me. I hear those rapids coming up around the bend and I just figure I can get through about anything if you stay in the boat with me, but I couldn’t blame you if you don’t. I can’t bring myself to look you in the face just yet. I don’t want to know just yet.”


“I just know you been through so much already I can’t see it being right to ask you to walk through this with me. I mean…I don’t even know…It’s just so…”


“So if you wanna pack your stuff and look for a better partner when we get back…”

“Ted! No! We’re gonna get through this.”

“Sal, that’s it though. I’m not gonna make it to the other end of this ride. I’m not gonna get through the rapids. I’m stuck and no matter how much paddling I do I’m not getting out. . . . six months. I’ve got six months, Sal.”

Written in response to the Reedsy Writing Prompt: Write a story told exclusively through dialogue.