Behind you

For an OU course, Start Writing Fiction.

Assignment: Pick one of the characters from the opening video, Keeping track of useful details. Write a short character sketch – no more than 200 words – in which you concentrate on appearance and any particular mannerisms you noted.

Actually, it’s a bit more than 200 words, and it’s probably more about the narrator than the girl, but it ran away with me.


Behind you


It amuses me to observe her as she observes others. She sits in the centre of the café, so absorbed in noting down the traits of the people in her line of sight that she doesn’t think to look behind her, where she would instantly spot me, watching her every gesture and smiling.

She is young, this girl, no more than early 20s, and the fresh curve of her cheek and the eager way she bends over her tatty notebook with each new inspiration remind me of myself at that age.

She has skin the colour of milky coffee, smooth black hair tied back into a short, neat pony tail and wears clothing that seems somehow too thin for the season. But perhaps she is one of those trusting souls who leave their coats on the rack beside the door. I’ve never been able to, myself. This is London, after all, not some village in rural… what is she, Indian? Thai, perhaps? I can just make out that the characters she is so diligently scribbling in her notebook are not English. But she’s most likely a local, like me – as far as anyone is ever local in London – and simply confident in her youth.

I find myself wondering whether, in another 20 years, I will be even more cynical and defensive than today. And I look over my shoulder, just in case that older me is already there, making notes.

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