Writing exercise #7 – Leaves

The start to another “adultery leads to a murder plot” story. I do know where this one’s going too; the final line is Laura walking down the path from her house to where a large black limo awaits, thinking “Eats, shoots and…”


Laura scooped up the last of her ramen and thought about words. Of course as a translator she was pretty well always thinking about words. Syntax, grammar, lexical shifts, onomatopoeia, grammar, puns, punctuation, grammar…

It was words that had finally made her decide to kill Kenny. No, not those words – although of course she’d been tempted on some level from the very first time he said his name. No, it had been the words he’d used in a text message that had sealed his fate. A text message not even intended for her, but that he had written – thumbed? – in her presence. As though nobody had ever managed to read someone else’s texts were following the movements of their thumbs over the screen.

Not that ‘I luv u’ really needed much deciphering, of course. After that it had been the work of but a moment to log into his mobile phone account; his password was the same for every account he had – “N0ttsFore5t”, which in itself ought to have been warning enough – and find out which number he’d been ringing most often. She’d recognised it instantly. It was probably the number, other than Kenny’s, that she rang most often too. Melissa. That bitch. Her own sister!

It had taken a while to get over that particular discovery, but once she’d recovered her equilibrium it was pretty obvious what she had to do. Kill both of the adulterous bastards, preferably during one of their repulsive fornication sessions.

She’d found it quite easy to get hold of the gun – translators are pretty resourceful when it comes to research – but finding an opportunity to use it so that she wouldn’t immediately be banged up herself had proven more delicate.

Then she started doing regular interpretation gigs for the Tunisian Embassy. Soon she started travelling abroad with the ambassador or various diplomats. And they always travelled on a private jet and they never had their passports checked. Laura just had to pick her trip and she knew she could kill Kenny and Melissa and climb on a plane to Tunisia, a place she’d loved ever since she first visited as a student – and coincidentally a non-extradition country. Once there she’d jump ship and settle back down to continue her peaceful life translating medical leaflets. She reckoned most of her clients wouldn’t even notice she’d moved to another country, still less become a double murderess.

Writing exercise #6 – Designing

She looked again at the brightly coloured objects in front of her on the desk. Some kind of aeroplane with excitingly swept-back wings, cockpit and long-since lost pilot – she vaguely remembered a small blue figure with tentacles  – and a chunky-wheeled tractor.

She sighed and lowered her head slowly to the desk, shoving her keyboard away with her forehead.

The problem with design briefs, she’d always found, was that they’d seem perfectly clear when the client explained them to her, but as soon as she sat down at her desk and tried to bring them to life she seemed to lose every bit of inspiration she’d ever had. And this was the most demanding client she’d ever worked for.

Still, she’d always managed to come up with something sooner or later, and her clients kept coming back. So she assumed she must be doing something right.

Which was just as well, because there was an enormous amount riding on this job. Far too much, really. Was this a challenge too far?

Then she remembered what her husband Ian had said to her when she’d once tried to explain this to him. “Inspiration can only get you so far, Moll. After that it’s training and years of experience and sheer bloody determination that gets you through it. It’s not the time you actually spend on the work that your clients are paying you for. It’s all those years learning how to put in that time and produce something they’ll love.”

She sat up and smiled to herself. Ian had always known what to say. Exactly the right words. Her eyes went back to the toys. Yes, the stakes were definitely worth the effort.

She drew a piece of paper towards her. This job had to be absolutely secret. She wasn’t going to risk committing anything to digital media for prying eyes to find. She’d do this the old-fashioned way.

It was the kids’ toys that had given her the idea from the start. No matter how much she tidied up there were always hard bits of plastic littering the house, ready to trip or stab the unwary.

Her mother-in-law, Elaine, had badly sprained her ankle at one point following a run in with an errant Moshi Monster truck. And of course Elaine had then repeatedly pointed out how dangerous it was to let the kids leave their toys about. Not that she ever lifted a hand to help on her infrequent visits. She’d rather sit in the kitchen being snide about Molly and indulgent with Ian.

And that was another thing that was going to change if she got this right.

Quickly and with confident strokes she began to draw the object she needed.

The blade-like wings, supported by the solid bulk of the tractor – that was what she was trying to replicate. They needed to be a perfect match for the real objects, so that afterwards she could replace them with the real toys, discard the weaponised version – she hadn’t quite worked how yet, but she would – and then call the police.

“It’s my husband”, she’d say. “He’s… he fell, slipped on the stairs, on the kids’ toys. Please come quickly. I think…” she’d sob, “I think he’s dead.”

And even that bitch Elaine would back her up. And Ian – her lying, cheating bastard of a husband – wouldn’t be able to walk out on them as she now knew he was planning to.

She’d get to keep the house, and the kids… and that lovely big life insurance policy.

And all she had to do was create the perfect accident. Now that really was a Grand Design.