Don't Judge a Bag By Its Contents

Don't Judge a Bag By Its Contents

November 13, 2011 Writing 22

The phone rang shrilly in almost the same instant she had managed to move past the town line. She’d learned nothing from anyone, but she couldn’t tell if it was due to anyone really not knowing or being too afraid to talk. With the answers still eluding her and the dreams becoming a nightly occurrence, she was desperate to find someone who’d be willing to talk.

“Mrs. Chisholm?” It was a woman’s voice on the other end. It sounded familiar and different at the same time. Kate finally recognized it as belonging to Valerie, the waitress at the diner where she’d had lunch.

“How did you get my number?” She didn’t remember leaving her card there. She was trying to be discreet about having been there at all, but apparently it wasn’t working.

“I found your son’s bag of goldfish under the table. It had his name and your cell phone number on it.”

“Oh. I see. Well, you can just throw…” she started.

“No, Mrs. Chisholm, you really need to come and pick the bag up.” A light popped on in Kate’s head as the realization that this really wasn’t about the baggie hit her.

“Oh. I see.”

“Ha. On that, no, ma’am, you really don’t see. Can I expect to see you soon, say by 8:00 pm?”

“Yes. I need to make some arrangements but I can be there then. Will you please put the baggie someplace safe?” Kate hoped that Valerie would pick up the hint that she didn’t really wish to return to Rupert Hills so quickly. Valerie sounded as nervous as Kate felt.

“Yes. In fact, if you want, I can meet you somewhere along my way home. I don’t live in town. I live in Dixon. There’s a little café there called Cuppa Joe’s. It has the best coffee in Missouri, if you’d like to get a cup before you get back on the road.”

“Sounds perfect. Can I call you back at this number if I need to?”

“Yeah. It’s my cell phone. If I don’t answer, it’s because I’m ‘busy’. I will call you back as soon as it’s convenient. Can’t afford to lose my job over this!” Her laughter held a hint of fear, and Kate suddenly realized exactly how much Valerie had on the line. She said a silent prayer that whatever Valerie knew, it was worth whatever repercussions she received if she was caught. “All right, so you will be at the cafe at 8:00 pm to get the goldfish?”

“Yes. I’ll see you then. And Valerie?”


“Thanks for calling. Malcolm would be lost without those goldfish.”

As she hung up, a seed of dread sprouted in her stomach. Somehow, she knew this would come back to hurt her and most definitely Valerie. She looked at her watch. It was 6:30 pm now. It had been an unfruitful day, despite the strange phone call she’d received. Martin still hadn’t answered his phone. She was grateful that Fallon was always so willing to help. She would owe her big time tonight, though.

Fallon had a date.


For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, alyssagoesbang challenged me with “close your eyes and reach your left hand out. the first thing you touch–write a story about it. fic or non-fiction”. (It was a baggie of goldfish crackers that I touched). I challenged Amanda with “Do whatever it takes.”

This is based on a character from my NaNo WIP, and while it doesn’t exactly fit in to where I actually am in the story, it fits into to the storyline.

Concrit is always appreciated.


22 Responses

  1. Angelia Sims says:

    You know I am a big fan of your writing! That said, I’m not sure I get this. I love the conversion though. It could be because I am tired. 🙂

    • DM says:

      Hmmmm. Or maybe because I know whats happening, I need to add a little more to the scene to make my readers see it fully?

      • Sarah says:

        Needing to add more depends really on the story you’re writing, not just us readers today. While yes, I really want to know more about the information she’s after and why Valerie is risking so much to tell her…if in the actual novel there’s been more information given for it before this comes up – you don’t need more in the scene. LOL. It’s a tricksy thing writing for both when you’re displaying part of it.

        Me, personally, I really enjoyed this little snip. It makes me very curious about what’s going on, and wanting to see more. It was just enough enticement. I like how you included your prompt into it. I could feel Kate’s urgency to get the information she was looking for…and Valerie’s desperation to be understood without talking aloud. Wonderfully handled in a mostly dialogue scene.

        • DM says:

          You make a very good point. I did add the small intro before the dialogue, but that’s just for the site. The teaser is what I was hoping for, something to draw you in. I’m glad that this was successful. Thank you for the strong concrit.

  2. Carrie says:

    You definitely get the idea that there is more going on and that Kate is involved in something “not good”. There’s a sense of fear and you’re building tension with the last paragraph and the seed of dread.

    I think you could ramp up the tension a bit with the dialogue to show how nervous Valerie is about making this call. Kate’s impressions of her tone of voice, detecting fear, nervousness…you do mention this once but I think it could be commented on earlier too

  3. TheKirCorner says:

    even not knowing what is going on, I liked it. I enjoyed the back and forth, the tension and the mystery. As always you weave a great tale. 🙂

  4. Sara says:

    I loved the mystery and wanted to know more. I loved the prompt, as well. That’s a clever idea.

    My favorite part was how you handled the dialogue between these two women. The interplay between getting THE MESSAGE across and yet keeping it disguised. That was very well written.

    Thanks for sharing this and for grabbing the bag of goldfish:~)

    • DM says:

      Thank you.This make me anxious to get to this part of the story already, but I’ll wait. It’s building and ebbing exactly as it should.

  5. floreksa says:

    I would have had no clue how to work a bag of goldfish into a story. Great job! Leaves me really wanting more.

  6. Lance says:

    Carrie’s critique is spot on. Your characters are dynamic enough to make us on the edge of our seats through dialogue.

    I loved the details and Kate’s sense of things. You are hitting your stride with this story. Very good.

  7. K. Syrah says:

    Nice. I like that you’re able to pull NaNo and II in together – it’s interesting inspiration, and moves you in unexpected ways! I was never able to do that.

    I like the small details about where she was in relation to the town, and things of that nature. It gives it a great sense of reality. I’d comment on the dialog, but I won’t because it’s been done :-p. The speech, the description… I’d love to read the entire thing.

  8. I loved this – I liked the conversation between the women, light on the surface, but filled with tension (but I’d like a bit more). You really draw your reader in: why was she in town asking questions? What does the waitress know? What is on the line? Who is Fallon and will things go badly for him? Minor nitpick: should that read instant rather than instance? I’m wondering, too, if these are the individual serving sized bags you pick up at the store, why she would have put her cell phone number on the bag of goldfish.

    • DM says:

      Thanks, Kelly and you are absolutely right about instant. Thanks for pointing that out. The story was based on the baggie of goldfish my son left on the kitchen table. It was not prepackaged, just goldfish in a ziploc bag.

  9. can i read your novel now, please? 🙂 I’m so intrigued. granted, I have no idea what’s really going on, but that of course is to be expected given that there’s no context from the novel here. i like the way you wrote this. i agree with what another commenter said – you could definitely make us even more uncomfortable (in a good way!) by ramping up the nervousness for the characters. maybe SHOW us a little bit more of what’s going on on the waitress’s end of things? but otherwise, as always, i love the way you write! 🙂

    • DM says:

      Ohhh great idea!! I’m actually working into this segment now, so yeah, I could totally turn it to the cafe briefly and show “something” on her end. It would definitely add to the oh no factor.

  10. Oooh, you can’t just give us this! I want more, now! 😉

    • DM says:

      Well, if you’ve been keeping up, you know that everything I have posted has been from NaNo lately. This piece still hasn’t been tied into my story, but I’m getting there. I’ve gotten to this day at least. 😉

  11. Hopping for Write on Edge today. Nice to meet a fellow writer. Your bag of goldfish made me chuckle.

    I posted on my blog yesterday about a NaNoWriMo cash prize contest, not offiliated with a sponsor, but still cool.

    Also, paranormal nonfiction author Pamela K. Kinney guest blogged today about ghosts/hauntings. And earlier this week I wrote about my haunted trip to The Marshall House in Savannah, Georgia. There should be something for everyone worth reading. Nice to meet you!

    Hop on by.


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