Writing Excuses 10.5: The Market - Orphan

Writing Excuses 10.5 writing prompt: Take three different characters and walk them through a scene. Convey their emotional states, their jobs, and their hobbies without directly stating any of those. The scene in question: walking through a marketplace, and they need to do a dead-drop.


The man that gave me the box wasn’t a very good man. He was tall and skinny and he smelled. But he gave me a shiny silver penny and said that if I took this box to the other end of the market and came back, he could would give me another.

Two shiny silver pennies?

All for taking a stupid little box across the street.

The market is busy. Busy means pockets and pockets mean pennies and pennies mean dinner.

But if I don’t hafta steal to get dinner, then that’s okay too. People don’t come after you if you don’t steal so much.

No one looks at me. It’s like they don’t even see me, even though I’m the tallest of Talitha’s crew. Well, except for Talitha herself. But she’s old. 20 years at least, that’s ancient.

Halfway across the square, there’s a ruckus. One of those metal men has fallen down and lost his head.

I stop and laugh, but only for a moment.

It’s not polite to laugh at stranger’s misfortune. And you have to be polite not to get caught. Talitha says.

But it’s funny. The metal men are everywhere now. Not like it used to be. Back when I was still small. Back then, the metal men were only in the rich parts of town.

The metal men are no fun. No pockets. No purses. No pennies.

The metal man isn’t interesting though. He just lays there. He has a box too. It looks like my box. But the smelly man didn’t say that there would be any other boxes.

Would would a metal man want with a penny anyway?

I start walking again. I really wanted to get the silver penny that the smelly man had already given me out of my pocket. There were things you could only do with the lighter silver pennies.

But then the other boys would see. They might come and take my penny away. Talitha wouldn’t be happy then; she said that if I got beat up again, that was it. I was done.

I’m not sure what exactly I would be done with, but it didn’t sound good.

I liked my job.

I started again, only to feel a sudden pain in my foot. I’d kicked something.

I looked down and jumped up, all at the same time.

The thing I kicked? It was the metal man’s head.

How did that get over here?

It was staring at me with those gemstone eyes. They weren’t right though. Normally those eyes never stop moving. The metal men don’t have to eat, they don’t have to sleep. They cut right into our pickpocketing they did when they started policing the market.

But this one didn’t seem much interested in me. All laying there, a head without a body, it didn’t seem to be reacting at all.

Was the metal man dead?

I never really thought about that. If they moved around and walked and talked, I guess that meant they were alive. And if they were alive, well then I guess this one could just possibly be dead.

So he won’t be needing those eyes.

I took it.

The head I mean.

It was heavier than I expected.

It mean, it was metal, right? But it was heavier than my own head. And the metal men never seemed to mind. And it was shiny.

It wasn’t too bad.

I could do this.

Luckily, no one seemed to notice that I’d taken it. In fact, they all seemed to be very careful not to notice anything that was going on.

People don’t notice things they don’t want to. Talitha always said that.

The rest of the way, there were other metal men. They weren’t helping the one that broke. I guess the metal men are just like people after all.

There was a fire at the end of the market. I left the box by the fire.

There was another box, just like mine.

Two shiny silver pennies for them, two shiny silver pennies for me.

They don’t have a shiny metal head though.

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