How we think it’d play out…
Sweat glistened on Nicholas Sparks’ brow as he sanded down the boat, his seventh that morning. Squinting sensitively into the sun, he stepped back to cast a critical eye over his work.
“Good,” he thought. “Now the hull is nice and smooth.”
His rope-like muscles were plainly visible under the sleeveless T-shirt he’d chosen for the morning’s labours, but wasn’t like he’d planned it that way or anything. Raising a hand – a delicate artist’s hand, yet at once strong and masculine; a hand as comfortable turning the pages of a rustic cookery book as it was fixing a leaky roof – to shield his eyes, he beheld the approach of Octavia Butler across the sands.
Her progress was slow, as she stopped now and then to pluck and read a message from the many bottles strewn across the shore: messages Nicholas himself had written to an imaginary sweetheart, he remembered with a rueful smile. It would take her forever to read them all. Perhaps that was an idea for his next film. Or did he write books? He couldn’t remember, he noted with a rueful smile.
Octavia was almost upon him, brandishing a sheaf of his scribblings like a soggy dagger. “Nonsense!” she raged. “Claptrap! Nothing but insipid, sedatory reinforcements of the patriarchal hegemony!”
Nicholas leaned easily against the newly-sanded boat and grinned, a little ruefully. “I can’t be blamed for writing what people want to read,” he said, realising as he ran a hand across his chin that he hasn’t shaved for a couple of days, and his stubble was probably lending a dangerously rugged aspect to his features. “Or watch. I forget which.”
Dark storm clouds had gathered above the feuding pair; the first droplets that threatened a downfall were already falling. “If you don’t mind,” said Nicholas, “let’s get on with this. I have a lot of boats to sand.” He indicated behind him. It was true.
“We’re not even so different,” he continued, to Octavia’s obvious disgust. “We both write novels with strong, confident female protagonists. And I too find myself fascinated by the concept of the… biological imperative.” He stepped forward, taking Octavia’s elbows in his strong hands as the sky began to open, soaking the pair. He adjusted his stance ever so slightly, all the better to replicate the cover photo from one of his books, or films.
Octavia chose this moment to deliver a well-timed headbutt that sent Nicholas sprawling across the recently-smoothed boat. She stomped off, muttering.
PREDICTED WINNER: OCTAVIA E. BUTLER
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