Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved
[M1] Vickie wandered around her apartment
that rainy Saturday, putting the
finishing touches on the generic furnishings. Without her things around, it
looked like a hotel suite, blank and without character. ‘Tabula rasa, ’
thought Vickie, ‘just like my
future. A clean slate, ready to be rewritten. ’ She changed into her robe and slippers,
feeling like a frumpy hausfrau . The dreary
day outside complemented her mood. ‘Tea usually makes me feel better,’ she
thought. ‘I’ll nuke some water and watch the news, fall
asleep in front of the tube and feel better in the morning.’
Vickie opened the door. John and Tess stood outside in the rain, looking awkward, sheepish and concerned. “May we come in?” asked John. “It’s a little on the humid side out here.”
“You love me anyway, huh,” Vickie attempted to smile.
Now Vickie did smile. “Don’t beat around the bush, John. Why don’t you come out and say what you really mean.”
John crossed his arms over his chest. “For smart
neither of you is being too smart about your personal
life. Why don’t you wait
for him to come back, Vickie, so you can talk
this thing out?”
Vickie sighed. “I don’t think
so. I don’t
think it would change anything.” The telephone
answered it. “Yes, yes. I’ll
it’s for you.”
“Ms. Johnston, this is Hannah, Cliff’s cook. We’ve never met, but Cliff has
me a lot about you. I talked to
other day, and he tells me you’re planning to leave.”
Hannah.” How bizarre. Was even Cliff’s cook ganging up on her? “I’m done with
the project, after all.”
“Look, Ms. Johnston, I don’t want to look like I’m interfering. And I
that what I want to tell
you will sound like I’m trying to take advantage of you. But Cliff
hasn’t done this since his dad, Colonel Hawkesclyffe, was killed.”
he left, Cliff
dinner in his room, didn’t come down to the kitchen like he
usually does. I brought up a tray and left it by the door , knocking and telling
him it was there. Well, when
I went up to bed, the tray was still there, untouched. And you know how Cliff
care about her that much? “Oh, um,
well, I don’t know what to say. Uh,
thanks for the information.
to see him
again. Thanks. Good‑bye.”
“Who was that, Vickie?” asked Tess.
“Hannah, Cliff’s cook. As if you didn’t know. Okay, if everyone’s going to gang up on me, I’ll wait until Cliff comes back to make my final decision.”
John and Tess looked at each other
. “Thanks. But you should also know
that we’re not all ganging up on you. We
talked to Hannah, but her calling was her own idea , not
ours. Tess, maybe we should go now, and
let Vickie think . Or rest. Or, whatever.”
already retreated into her own mind. ‘Cried. Oh, no, this just makes it worse. Why couldn’t he just be a black‑hearted
pirate all the time instead of the
wonderful guy he is? [M4] Why did he have to be only almost perfect?’
about the outline caught Vickie’s attention
she dug a little into her memory. “That
looks like Middle
Yemen Just a minute, guys, don’t go yet.” Vickie increased the volume as John and Tess looked
“…are still unclear, but it appears that the
was successful , and that Prince
Kulinahr has been confirmed as the legitimate leader of Middle Yemen by the
Parliamentary Council . The
whereabouts of Colonel Hafez Fahrrad are still unknown.”
Vickie let out a whoop of joy, and almost missed what came next.
“In a related story, Sir Humphrey Hawkesclyffe, founder and owner of Hawkesclyffe Computers, has been reported missing in the street fighting and confusion in Middle Yemen. Sir Hawkesclyffe was apparently
involved in some
business in the country and may have been
caught up in the fighting.
The government of Middle Yemen has assured both the British and American
ambassadors that Sir Hawkesclyffe’s safe return is a top priority.”
Vickie stared at the television, stunned.
‘Oh, shit. He’s
gone and put Kulinahr back in power . That’s what he was doing that was
so secret.’ “John,
Tess, do you realize what
, it means he’s missing. I’ll get in touch with our people right
now.” Washington John moved toward the door.
turned the tube down.
“Yes, it is.
Vickie, I’m going to
come clean. Cliff and I were planning
this all along, since Fahrrad overtook
“You knew! You rat, John
! I could
have missed a heck of a lot
of heartache if you had told me before this.”
Tess both back.
“How do you figure, John ?” Tess asked.
only mean that Fahrrad has him. Don’t mistake, Fahrrad’s clever . And
desperate. The world is changing around him; he hasn’t many places to go. I just know that he’s going to
try to use Cliff as insurance.”
“But Cliff has never been caught before,” Vickie said in a small voice.
“Cliff has never let himself get caught before,” John
not voice her fear. This time, maybe he hadn’t wanted to escape. After
the way she had treated him, after he had
trusted her, he could
have wanted to get caught. Or didn’t
care. ‘Oh, dear God, please let him be okay.
[M2]Dialog must sound realistic but shouldn't be everyday stuff. Cut out the pleasantries and get to the meat.
[M4]Yeah yeah, wonderful guy--we've heard this only a couple dozen times before. Get on with the story, already :)
[M5]I say the same thing maybe three times. Sometimes I write around the idea instead of writing the idea itself. That's fine in draft, but editing is for finding and writing the real nugget.