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by j.oreilly 

Posted: 13 September 2010
Word Count: 645

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Tess Murphy was seriously considering selling her house. She loved it, but given how little time she spent in it, she was beginning to wonder if it was surplus to requirements, given that she currently appeared to be living in her car. Shoving her seat back, she propped her feet up on the dashboard, planting one firmly over a sticker added by the previous owner. ‘Patience is the key to paradise,’ it said with unwavering smugness.
It was 6 a.m. The fact that paradise was overrated had become clear some time around 3. Flicking open the glovebox, she rummaged inside and pulled out a packet of nuts and a small bottle of water, and knocked on her Ipod. Maybe what she really needed was a career change, she thought. Something in an office, where she could wear her beloved heels and sit on a neat little chair that swivelled, and use her education as her parents had intended, and where she’d have room for her legs.
Where she’d have to make meaningless small talk with people she didn’t like, work set hours, and follow the rules. Which was why, at the age of 21, she’d gone into business for herself. Ten years later, here she was. Cold on the trail of a man in his mid twenties for the third night in a row. Normally this was easy. She knew every trick in the book, every move they pulled. If there were a million ways to hide the lie, the majority of men used the same handful.
But not this one. Yawning, she palmed the last handful of nuts from the bag. The job had seemed pretty straightforward when she’d taken it on. After three all nighters in a row, she needed a rethink. This guy was good. He was very, very good.

The right turn was sharper than it looked, and Tess made a hasty grab for her second hand sat nav as she winged it round the bend one handed and hoped that nothing was coming the other way. Not that she was particularly concerned about her battered mondeo, but she didn’t really want to kill someone elses car. The paperwork would be a nightmare for starters, not to mention the shouting, swearing and possibly crying that would be involved. She was so tired her stomach hurt. The swearing alone that she’d generate would make everyone in a ten mile radius start bawling like a baby.
Fortunately, luck was on her side, and no vehicle or pedestrian on the other, and she made it round the narrow driveway without incident. The car park was wide, sunny, and gravelled. And almost full. She spotted two possible spaces, and gunned her car towards the first. Positioned at the far side, under the shade of a cherry tree, it offered both shade and privacy. The first would stop the chocolate stashed in the glove box from melting, and the second would let her slip out of her jeans and t-shirt and into something more appropriate.
Shoving the gear stick into first, she flung the long front end of the car into the space. Tight, she calculated, but doable, jamming her foot hard onto the brake seconds before her front bumper reshaped the door of the shiny blue Mercedes that occupied the right hand space. Selecting reverse, she applied her foot to the accelerator. A quick back out, back in, and it would be parked, then she should have enough time to change and add some makeup. Should even have enough time to do something with her overnight hair.
Should have checked her rear view mirror first. The crunch was long and drawn out, even as her head whipped back against the headrest then rebounded as her old, crummy car bounced off whatever she had driven into, stopping only millimetres from the front wing of the Mercedes.

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Comments by other Members

Cornelia at 14:37 on 13 September 2010  Report this post
This looks like the start of something good - a kind of chick-lit detective story.

I think you have one 'given' too many in the first paragraph but othwise it goes along very smoothly.

I liked this bit in particular:

After three all nighters in a row, she needed a rethink. This guy was good. He was very, very good.

I'd like to read more of this.


Astrea at 19:09 on 13 September 2010  Report this post


Okay, just personal opinion, but I definitely like where you've started it. It's intriguing, pulls the reader in, makes them want to know more about why she seems to be living in her car.

Refreshingly un-stereotypical considering the market you're aiming for, but sufficiently recognisable as fitting within the genre so as not to be rejected out of hand.

The one little stylistic nit-pick I had has already been mentioned, so won't bother repeating.

In the second extract, I'd hyphenate 'do-able', otherwise it looks a bit odd, also second-hand. The final sentence could possibly be broken into two.

Good fun, though - best of luck with this

j.oreilly at 09:28 on 14 September 2010  Report this post
Thanks ladies, it does need some final polishing I know, so it isn't completely there yet, I will look at the 'givens' I've used.

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