Write on Wednesday – Two Fat Ladies

I’ve chosen an exercise I missed before I discovered Write on Wednesday. And this week a timed piece was very appealing. The exercise is to choose the 8th book on your bookshelf, turn to the 8th page and scroll down to the 8th sentence. Write the sentence on the top of your page and write for 5 minutes.

The 8th book on my bookshelf was Margaret Atwood’s The Year of The Flood – a wonderful book,which I hope is in no way a prophetic glimpse into our future. Not pretty, but disturbingly believable.

hanoi direct

Halong Bay*

I wasn’t that worried. Still, they check everything.

The customs officer was lifting up my carefully packed clothes, rolled as tightly as my nerves.. He kept glancing up at me. I held his eye, but was it too much? I was worried my smile had the rictus of a death mask. I wiped the sweat of my clammy palms against the tails of my flowing scarf. Silk, orange, picked up in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. He unzipped my toiletry bag.

‘Are people always this nervous? I’m feeling guilty just standing here..’

He paused from his inspection of my Estee Lauder night serum, ‘Not usually, no.’

‘I’ve got some rocks.’


‘Yes, limestone, from Halong Bay. Have you been there?’

His momentary flash of interest quickly waned. ‘I don’t even get to see Botany Bloody Bay.’ He dropped my little brown bottle of serum into my toiletry bag. ‘Did you wash the rocks? Thoroughly?’ He was already pushing my case along the bench, looking down the queue for more likely offenders.

‘Oh, yes,’ my hand brushing against his. ‘Thoroughly.’

I eased my case and it’s carefully laundered and concealed cache of diamonds away, my jaw finally releasing it’s clenched grin.

Write on Wednesday is the brainchild of Gill at inkpaperpen blogspot.

Many thanks to Gill for creating a wonderful community for writers to gather.

Head over there to see what the other WoWers have written this week.

* Image credit – halongbayvietnamtravel.com

12 thoughts on “Write on Wednesday – Two Fat Ladies

  1. I think anyone who has travelled can relate to the sense of tension in a customs queue (even if the contraband is a half eaten packet of Oreos!!).The scariest ones I nave come across were in Vietnam, so the “Bloody Botany Bay” tricked me. I love how Ms anybody with her Estee Lauder serum is a diamond smuggler! Very clever!

  2. Loved it! I always feel guilty going through Customs for some strange reason – even without contraband lol. I really liked the description of the dress, I could see it in my mind, even the wet prints of her clammy hands. I am looking forward to reading more from you!

  3. You are a wonderful writer. I only started to sense halfway through that she was playing the Customs Guy. I felt the nerves. Cleverly played, by you as the writer as well as your character. My favorite image came in your very first line, the bit about the clothes rolled as tightly as the nerves. The only part I wasn’t sure about was the dialogue “I don’t even get to see Botany Bloody Bay” but I am not sure WHY I’m not sure. I stumbled when reading it and I have reread and reread but can’t think why it made me stumble, perhaps as Kate mentioned, I was thinking she was in Vietnam until this bit. Anyway, this is absolute nitpicking – your piece intrigued me.

    RE: Your feedback on my piece, (I did reply on my post but in case you don’t get to pop back) I totally agree with the lines you were unsure about. The whole alfalfa image was what I came up with before writing, once I started writing I thought of the Spiderman image instead and thought this was better. BUT I was so attached to the caricature/alfalfa thing that I forced it in. Fitting this line in was the most time consuming part of the piece! Just goes to show, if something doesn’t write well, it probably doesn’t read well either. I’m glad you brought it up! Thanks

  4. Well, you had me right up to the last line. I genuinely believed that she was just another traveller who automatically felt guilty when questioned by customs.

    Lots of really good detail and like Gill, I loved the line about the nerves rolled as tightly as the clothes.

  5. Nice job on this! I too believed that she was just an innocent traveler simply feeling nervous at the customs line. Way to intrigue your audience!

  6. Fantastic twist at the end! And you had me thinking she was so innocent.
    Loved the line about the clothes being rolled tightly like her nerves. I always feel guilty at customs, or if I get pulled over on the road for random breath testing, though I’ve had no reason to feel guilty!
    Your writing flows so smoothly, it’s effortlessly read.

  7. To be honest I have to reread it again because I don’t understand what the rocks doing to the story. Then i came to pass Kate’s comment mentioning it’s diamond smuggling, that’s when I understand it..(oh, poor me and my grasp of English.hehe) And that’s when I have appreciated the excellence of the story – the twist is amazing! I also love the line “…smile had the rictus of a death mask”, though I have to look up in the dictionary the meaning of rictus which I am glad I did because I’ve learned a new word and how to use it in a sentence.=)

    I think I’ll be using this prompt next week.

    Sharing my smiles back in W.o.W.,


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