Playing in the Shadows

This was a writing exercise on Critique Circle. The requirements were to write in third person and focus on one person doing something without talking, conducting surveillance on someone. Also, there can be no emotion.


The man stopped as he rounded the corner of the city block, his eyes catching the form of a pipe on the ground in front of his feet and just against the wall of the building. Barely noticeable in the cover of night, he had not seen who had dropped it. He had his suspicions from the sound of stiletto heels clicking at a fast pace in the distance. The pipe was hastily thrown, a fresh chip was dismembered and lying nearby.

He rubbed his chin as he stooped down to pick it up. As he lifted it with two gloved fingers, he noticed a ring of pink lipstick around the pipe mouthpiece, so delicately placed there and barely leaving an imprint of the lips matching it. He flipped back his trench coat, and ran in the direction of the heels. She didn’t smoke. He smirked, one corner of his mouth upturning as the wind rushed past him. Not often anyway.

Smoking was her tell; a sign she had started a new fling. She could lie through her pearly white teeth and as long as she had a slender cigarette pipe to match her perfect figure and sensuous legs, she couldn’t keep the secret. She’d always been able to get away with it before, stating some excuse he would eventually buy into. This time, he was going to find her. Even catch her in the act if he had to, although he wasn’t sure how he would handle himself in such a situation.

He suspected she knew he was following her. This was a traditional pipe after all. She was trying something new. Did she drop this pipe, hoping he wouldn’t notice it? He caught wind of a familiar scent mixed with smoke. Lifting the pipe in his gloved hand to his nose he inhaled quickly. He lowered it. It was her. She could blend into a crowd of women with that perfume, but the smoke lingered. She was close.

As he rounded the next corner he saw her, the moon casting a gentle blanket of light on her features. One of her beautiful opalescent legs was pushed up against a brick wall. The other was lifted, the heel flat against the rough brick. She wasn’t alone. Her body was locked with another. There she was, her lips fully tangled in a sensual embrace with a man he recognized — his best friend for the past ten years. He threw the pipe down with such force that it shattered, and the two lovers jerked, eyes darting to pinpoint the sound. Finally, her eyes engaged with his as he took a step forward from the shadows. Caught.

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