Here’s a little piece following a collective challenge from friends in my local writing group: I had to write 250 words to include “five feet tall”, “Interviewing children in Mozambique”, and “Shakespeare – especially Hamlet”
The plane touched down, bounced and eventually settled on the runway. “Welcome to Maputo, where the local time is …” Maria couldn’t focus on the rest, her head was still swimming from the free alcohol. When the seatbelts sign went out, there was a mad scramble as everyone stretched up for their bags and duty free: Maria, as usual, couldn’t reach that high and had to ask the man next to her in the aisle to help.
He smiled and passed her suitcase down to her. “Your first time in Mozambique?” he asked.
Was it that obvious? “Yes,” she said, “just here for a couple of weeks.”
As they navigated immigration, luggage retrieval, and customs together, she shared everything with this handsome stranger. “I’m here to run a Shakespeare project with local students,” she said. He smiled, but said nothing about himself.
He offered to share a taxi into town: it would have seemed rude to refuse. They travelled along the shiny new road from the airport, a black artery of modernity running through a desert of poverty and decay. She saw the hotel from a distance, reaching up into the sky and looking down upon the dilapidation around it.
Her companion spoke to the driver, in a language she did not know. He looked back at them both in his mirror, and nodded. Just before they reached the hotel, the car turned off into a side alley, and stopped: the driver got out.
The rest is silence.