NaNoWriMo Day 9, Chapter 9 using freewrite prompt "nail biting"

Hello, I am taking part in NaNoWriMo 2019. For those of you who don’t know NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. (I guess it should be called InaNoWriMo as it is now International!) The idea is to write a novel length story (at least 50000 words) in one month (so at least 1667 words a day for 30 days). Last year I took part and “won” (ie I wrote over 50k in a month). This year I am going to give it another go.

As I did last year I will use @MarianneWest’s daily freewrite prompt as a starting point (so each day I will use and write for 5 minutes with @mariannewest’s prompt in mind. I will then write another 1500 odd words and publish it on the blockchain so you can see what crap I come up with!

Today, was a busy day and I only managed just over 1000 words. But I’m still on target to finish by the end of November. I’ll try to write some more tomorrow.

Today is 9th November 2019 and I am using yesterday’s prompt to write the ninth chapter of my story


Today’s prompt is:

nail biting

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If you are interested you can find the previous Chapters here One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight

Whilst Phil talked he watched. He couldn't help it. Years of training from his work in the police force.

Lots of people who talked a lot were so lost in what they were talking about they didn't notice anyone else. Most people could not even pick up on simple cues and reactions. Little hints that their story was not interesting to the listener - looking away, yawning, doing something else. Phil had spent a lot of time listening to people like that.

He was not one of them.

He observed. He noticed that the girl he was talking to - Marlie - had a nail-biting problem. Her nails were chewed, as was the skin around them. Other than that, she was neat and tidy, and there were no other signs of self-harm.

Her boyfriend was interesting. Billy. He had flinched when she said that, opened one eye and muttered something about only Marlie calling him that.

"My name is William," he'd said, before closing the eye again.

“He thinks Billy makes him sound like a little boy,” Marlie said, a smile on her face. “Thinks people respect him more if they call him William.”

“My name is William,” William-Billy said. “That’s the name on my birth certificate.”

Phil thought they probably had this argument quite often. It had that familiar half-joke-half-serious feel about it.

Phil had seen William-Billy react when he told Marlie he used to be a police officer. Phil thought he might. People said you shouldn’t judge people on first impressions, but as a police officer Phil had learned to trust his instincts about people.

And all Phil’s instincts told him that William-Billy was a wrong’un.

There was something about the way that he carried himself that made Phil think he wasn’t exactly small-fry in whatever it was he mixed up it. Possibly, drugs. Possibly something worse.

It wasn’t just the way he looked - although his hooded top and his attitude screamed drug-dealer to Phil. No, it was something else. Something Phil couldn’t quite put his finger on. But Phil was suddenly interested in the man. He wanted to find out more about him.

Marlie seemed like a sweet kid. Kid, he should probably say young woman. To Phil, anyone under the age of fifty was young and anyone under the age of thirty was a kid. He would guess that she was in her mid-twenties. Whatever, she was a good listener, looked like she was actually interested in his stories. She would probably make a good police officer. All the best police officers knew how to get people to talk to them, to tell them more than they wanted to. Phil smiled. Perhaps he should suggest it to her. It would probably wind up William-Billy.

“What’s so funny?” Marlie said, the smile on her lips mirroring his.

“I was just thinking you’d make a good police officer.”

Another flinch from William-Billy.

“I could put in a good word for you, if you are interested.”

Marlie suddenly looked embarrassed. She looked away from Phil, looking out of the window.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“No. It isn’t you. It’s me. I couldn’t be a police officer. Even if I wanted to.” She looked back at Phil. “I have a record.”


“Yes. Ah.”

“If it was juvenile, it might not count. Depending what it was.”

“It wasn’t when I was younger. It was something that happened last year.” Marlie straightend up. Gave her head a little shake as though to clear it. “But let’s talk about something else. Something less… police-y.”

Phil laughed. “Okay.” He stopped and rummaged in his bag, pulling out two apples. He offered one to Marlie. “Why don’t you tell me about you. Where are you headed?”

“Thanks.” Marlie took the apple and bit into it.

“Sorry, William-Billy,” Phil said. “I only have two apples. And I’m too hungry, and too selfish to give my last one to you.”

“We can share, Billy, can’t we?” Marlie said, her mouth full of apple flesh.

“Don”t sweat it,” the man said, his eyes still closed - although Phil suspected not completely. “My mum always warned me not to take gifts from strange men.”

“She sounds like a sensible woman.”

“She was.” Billy’s eye flickered open for a second. “She’s dead.”

“I’m sorry,” Phil said, meaning it.

“Don’t be. It wasn’t your fault.”

They were silent for a moment, after that. Phil crunched his way through his apple, then dropped the core into a paper bag he was carrying to put his rubbish in.

“So where are you headed?” He said when Marlie had finished her apple.

“I don’t know.”

“William-Billy taking you on a mystery tour?”

“Yes,” Marlie looked away. “Something like that.”

Something had changed, Phil realised. A barrier had gone up. He knew better than to push it. He sat back and looked out of the window.

It suddenly struck him what it was that was odd about the young couple. He had been sitting on the coach with them for almost an hour and neither of them had so much as looked at a phone. He didn’t know anyone under the age of sixty who didn’t check their phone at least every fifteen minutes. He glanced around the coach. Pretty much everyone else on the coach was either staring at a phone or plugged into one, listening to music, or pod-programmes, or whatever they were called.

Phil opened his bag again and removed his phone. He didn’t really use it. Just for emergencies. He didn’t even have it switched on half the time.

“You don’t mind me checking my messages do you?” he asked Marlie. “I don’t want to be rude.”

She didn’t look up, but shook her head. “Go ahead.”

He made a show of pressing the buttons.

“Oh damn,” he said, showing Marlie the blank screen. “It must be out of charge. I don’t suppose you have a charger that would fit this phone, do you?”

Marlie shook her head.

“I don’t have a phone. Not any more.”

Phil looked at her. “Oh?”

“She had it nicked,” William-Billy said, sitting up and staring at Phil. “Pickpocketed. My phone was taken too. Would have reported it. But you know what it’s like. Police are fucking useless.”

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