The assignment was to take a group of four items and write a story about the person who had those items in their personal bag. My items were a deck of playing cards, a lighter, Chanel lipstick, and a sparkly rock.

Becoming a Writer – Week One


Olivia leaned toward the mirror to put the finishing touch on her eye makeup when her boyfriend walked into the flat they shared. “I’m in the bedroom” she called to him, happy that he was home after his third night shift that week. But as he walked in the door she saw him slip a pack of cigarettes into his pocket. “Craig, you promised me you’d stop,” Olivia reproached him. He had promised her, three weeks ago. As far as she knew he had been doing quite well, using nicotine patches instead. Craig shrugged; “Work’s been a handful,” he muttered, not looking at her.

Olivia sighed forcefully and tossed her Chanel lipstick into her bad – she could finish getting ready later. “I’m going out for a bit. I’ll see you later” she said sharply. As she walked toward the door, she grabbed his lighter as well. It wouldn’t stop him from smoking, but it made her feel better. The lighter joined her lipstick and a pack of playing cards in her purse. She walked rather huffily to the nearest park and sat on a dry bench. Realistically, she knew it wasn’t that big of a deal. Lots of people smoke, and it wasn’t like she had asthma or anything. She just didn’t like the way it smelled or the fact that Craig was always stepping out for a quick puff. Him quitting hadn’t seemed so bad either. He had been more grumpy than normal for the first week or so, but then he said the cravings were going away and everything was getting better. She pulled out her deck of cards and started absentmindedly shuffling them against her leg while people watching.

As Olivia was looking around the park she saw a young couple with a small child start to bicker. It was about something small, but Olivia was struck by the man’s expression. He looked bored and exhausted, like bickering with the woman was all he ever did and it was wearing him down. When he looked at the child Olivia could see love shining out of his face. But that vanished when he looked at his companion. Olivia wondered if it had ever been there, or if their seemingly constant fighting had slowly eroded it. The man suddenly looked in her direction; she dropped her gaze to the playing cards, realizing she had been caught staring. Olivia stared at the cards instead, really looking at them as she hadn’t since they were given to her.

They were a gift, from Craig of course. They met at a mutual friend’s party where someone was entertaining people with simple card tricks. Olivia had thought it was amazing. The next time she saw Craig, it was at another party and he was the one with the deck of cards. Eventually he confessed to her that he had learned the magic tricks in the hopes of impressing her. He gave her the deck on their first anniversary and taught her every trick he knew.

Just then, the bickering couple’s child toddled up to Olivia’s bench. She smiled at Olivia and mumbled some gibberish that, clearly, had some profound meaning. Charmed, Olivia slipped the cards back into her bag and played with the child until her parents noticed she was with a stranger. When they called her back she giggled a bit and gave Olivia a sparkly rock before toddling to her father. Absentmindedly looking at the rock, Olivia pondered her relationship. She didn’t ever want to be like the couple in the park, together out of obligation more than anything. She knew she loved Craig, but did it mean that he hadn’t told her he was smoking again? Olivia slipped the rock into her bag and left the park.

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