31 DaysDay 7: BODY ENGLISH {the prompt follows at the end of this post}


Not the First Time

Scarlett sat on a bench, her legs swinging a pretty good beat as she watched the door to the bank where her mother was taking care of whatever it was she did at the bank. Her mother liked to call these kinds of Saturdays mother – daughter dates, but really it was just a bunch of errands. It certainly wasn’t the kind of date where they got their nails done or had coffee in the park and Scarlett told her mom about the new guy, Samuel, in her English class that she liked.

She though he might actually like her, too, but she wasn’t sure and she would have loved to ask her mom about it. But that’s just not something she and her mom talked about. Scarlett swung her legs a little faster.

“You’re not getting very far,” a voice said behind her.

Scarlett spun around to see Samuel smiling down at her. She smiled back and tucked a stray hair behind her ear.

“Mind if I sit?” Samuel asked.

“Please,” Scarlett said, and scooted over a little so they wouldn’t accidentally touch.

“Check it out,” Samuel said, nodding in the direction of the ATM where two guys appeared to be in a pretty intense conversation in the shadowy corner. “What do you think that’s about?”

Scarlett smiled. This was one of her favorite games to pass the time when she was out with her mother and she was curious about how Samuel would do at it.

“What do you think?” she asked, testing him for his initial take.

Samuel sat for several moments watching the two men who looked to be in their early to mid-20s. “It’s got to be about a girl. No doubt about it.”

Scarlett watched the two men. One seemed tense, almost jumpy to her, glancing around repeatedly as his friend seemed to do a lot of the talking. From where they sat, it was difficult to say for sure, but the guy who was talking seemed to be doing so with his teeth clenched. Or at least his jaw pretty set.

“Too easy,” Scarlett said.

She watched the jumpy guy, who she dubbed Crew Cut because of his short cropped blond hair. He didn’t look like someone who’d cheated on his friend’s girlfriend. He was too agitated. With the thumb of his left hand he tapped out a series of beats on his thigh and his eyes darted around as if he wanted to move on, away from the bank.

“Okay, then, you go,” Samuel said.

Scarlett held up a hand, indicating she was taking mental notes. The second guy, who she dubbed Lean To because of the way he kept leaning more and more into Crew Cut, seemed much calmer, and his demeanor certainly didn’t come across as a guy who’d found out his girl was cheating on him with Crew Cut.

“Lovers?” Samuel tried.

Scarlett shook her head and smiled. “You’re not very good at this,” she said.

“Fair enough,” he said and smiled. “It’s my first time.”

“Well, you have to watch them carefully. The way they move, stand, interact,” she explained. “Clearly they’re friendly, though I’m not quite sure they’re friends.”

“Really,” Samuel said, watching the two guys.

“They haven’t really smiled much. They’re really intense and the guy on the right is pretty antsy.”

Samuel nodded.

“The guy on the left is in charge. That’s why he’s always leaning forward and doesn’t appear as edgy. The guy on the right, Crew Cut, he’s changed his mind about whatever they were supposed to do.”

Crew Cut?” Samuel asked.

“It’s better if they have names,” Scarlett explained.

“So, who’s the guy on the left?”

Lean To.

Samuel laughed and Scarlett joined in. “I didn’t say they had to have good names,” she added. “Anyway, Lean To’s hiding something in that bag by his side. He’s ready and he’s doing his best to convince Crew Cut to stop screwing around already. See? He just poked him in the chest to make his point.”

“What’s his point?” Samuel asked.

“That Crew Cut agreed to help him and he’s not backing out now. Not this late into the game. But Crew Cut, he’s spooked. Something’s got him worked up and he doesn’t think they should follow through. Not today. He’s shaking his head and his eyes are wide, like he’s trying to convey he senses danger.”

“Or maybe that he senses us staring at him,” Samuel said.

“He’s oblivious to anything outside of their small circle,” Scarlett said. “He’s trying to hand his bag back to Lean To. See that’s why I figured he was in charge. He clearly brought both bags.”

“So what’s in the bags?” Samuel asked.

Scarlett sat bolt upright and tensed. “Did you see that?”

“What?” Samuel asked.

“He opened the bag.”


“The guy on the left,” Scarlett whispered.

Lean To?”

“This is serious,” Scarlett said. “We need to find someone to stop them.”

“What are you talking about?” Samuel stared at her as she stared at the two men.

Lean To pointed a gun at Crew Cut until Crew Cut pulled a mask over his head; Lean To did the same and the two turned toward the bank doors.

“My mother’s in there,” Scarlett said as she stood up. Samuel grabbed her hand and Scarlett wished she could tell him that this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened.


{Just a reminder, we try to keep these writing exercises to 30 minutes maximum. And I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 30 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 30 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing.}

Writing Prompt: BODY ENGLISH – write a “conversation” in which no words are said. It might be best to have a stranger observe this conversation, rather than showing us the thoughts of one of the people in the conversation. This exercise will challenge you to work with gesture, body language, all the things we convey to each other without words. {Exercise 60 from The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction by Brian Kiteley {note, this is an affiliate link}


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