CW: “Missing point of view” and “Not a merchant.”

The prompt asked for a story, but I was inspired to write a poem during a recent walk I took. Figured I’d share it with you as well. (Posted underneath the short story.)


There’s something exciting and magical, but scary at the same time about landing in a foreign place. So many adventures to be had, yet so many unknowns.

Mandy took a deep breath as she stepped off the plane and onto the apron*. The air smelled differently than it did in Boston – less fuel emissions but more… dust and sweat? She scrunched her nose.

“Well, here we are!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms up in the air. Marrakesh wasn’t her ideal destination. It wasn’t Cindy’s, either, but when you decide to book a last-minute vacation on a budget, you take what you can get.

“I’m telling you – this is what we both need. No mention of work or Mike. You’ll thank me later,” Cindy replied, as they made their way toward the airport terminal. Even though she had been thinking of quitting her job for months, it still stung when she got fired. Not that she’d admit that to Mandy; her friend had enough on her plate with the divorce proceedings.

With just a backpack each, they didn’t have to wait for their luggage at the carousel and were able to clear customs speedily, making their way to the taxi in no time.

“I can’t wait to get to the hotel and take a 14-hour nap,” Mandy announced once inside a cab. The long trip was getting to her and all she wished to do was rest her head… She pushed the button on her door panel, but the window didn’t come up. She tried the button a couple more times, but ultimately figured that it was either broken or permanently disabled – it would get really hot, really quickly inside the car with no AC and the windows up, she suspected.

“Yes, I know. We’ll take it easy the first day or so and just sleep in and lounge by the pool.” Cindy smiled gently at her friend, whom she loved dearly. Traveling on a whim was not Mandy’s cup of tea, so Cindy knew that she had to make some concessions of her own during the trip to make it a pleasant experience for them both.

At the hotel, the two women picked up their room keys, dropped off their luggage, and went to eat at the hotel’s restaurant on the ground floor.

“To all-inclusive, baby!” Cindy cheered with a glass of local palm wine.

“I’m sticking with Western food and drinks. At least for the first 48h.” Mandy took a bite of a cheeseburger and washed it down with Coke. “This burger is well done. What a waste.”

As they exit the restaurant, Mandy grabbed Cindy by the arm and pulled her close.

“Did you notice that guy that we just passed? We saw him at check-in, too,” she whispered, glancing backward. The guy was looking straight at her.

“Yes, he’s the concierge. There to help you with whatever you may need. He’ll carry your bag, lead you to the pool, grab you a drink…”

“Haven’t you heard of all the terrorist attacks and kidnappings in Western hotels?” Mandy eyes the hallway before entering their room.

“Sometimes I think you watch too much news. I’m quite happy being ignorant. Especially on vacation.”

Mandy made sure the door was securely locked and the blinds were drawn before they went to sleep. One can never be too careful.

The following day, Mandy and Cindy sunbathed and swam and ate and drank.

“You’re right. This IS nice,” Many reported at dinner as she took a tiny bite of a Moroccan-style sardine. “What’s the plan for tomorrow?”

“I want to go to the market – maybe get some spices, buy some ceramics… You know, do what tourists do – walk around and appreciate the surroundings,” Cindy replied as she spooned her eggplant and tomato mush onto a slice of baguette. “Mmmm…”

They had dinner, watched a couple of movies, and went to bed.

“Rise and shine!” Cindy exclaimed as she opened the blinds the following morning.

“Ughhh,” Mandy grunted and tossed her pillow at Cindy.

“You can’t sleep ALL day! There will be nothing left at the market. Here, put this on. Maybe we’ll even get some nice stuff for free.” Cindy placed the pillow and a flowery dress with cinched waist and a deep V-neck on Mandy’s bed.

After a quick shower, more groaning, and a small breakfast, the ladies left for the market which was conveniently located about 15 minutes away from the hotel.

“Do you want to know what happens if you’re having a heart attack and the EMT arrive only to ask you questions in their godforsaken language?” Mandy asked to pass the time. “You die.”

“Mandy!” Cindy scolded her friend. “Thankfully, we are not dying. Well, not immediately, anyway. Or, at least, I hope so…” Cindy waved her thoughts away. Remember you’re on vacation.

They walked mostly in silence the rest of the way. Cindy was taking pictures of pretty much everything, while Mandy looked for anything that would seem familiar/homey to her.

“Wow.” Mandy stopped so abruptly that Cindy bumped into her.

“What?” Cindy asked, looking around, confused. “Oh, I know – it’s breathtaking!” She scanned through all the stalls filled with Moroccan goodies – carpets, textiles, ceramics, and more.

Mandy saw that, too. But what made her stop in her tracks was the number of people at the market. A wall of people that seemed impossible to break through. “It’s too crowded. We should come back another time.”

“Oh, stop it. Come on.” Cindy tugged on Mandy’s arm and pulled her toward the first stall filled with colorful lamps, lanterns, and candle holders.

“Remember to pace yourself,” Cindy chuckled. “Don’t spend all your money here. We have plenty of other stalls to stop by,” she pointed down the alleyway.

Mandy picked up a candle holder made from a recycled sardine can. “How much?” she asked the merchant.

“Twenty dollars,” he replied

Mandy scoffed and put the tin back. “I could make that myself for a dollar ninety-nine.”

She did like a brass lamp with green and yellow stained glass pieces, though. She could even see herself paying $30 for it. It would look great in her new office.

“I think I’m going to get this one. What do you think?” Mandy asked Cindy but received no response. “Cindy?” she looked around for her friend but couldn’t see her anywhere. “Cindyyyyy?” her call was muffled by the general noise of four million people walking around and chatting.

Mandy put the lamp down. “Do you know where my friend went?” she asked the merchant, who looked at her with a blank expression. “My friend. Did you see where she went?” Mandy repeated.

“200 dollars,” he answered and handed her the lamp. “Only for you.”

“What?” she put the lamp down in front of the merchant. “My friend!” she said, looking around frantically.

“Ok. Ok. 150. Final offer.”

“I don’t want your stupid, overpriced lamp. I just want to find my FRIEND,” Mandy spat at him.

At that point, the merchant got very animated and started speaking Arabic. Or Berber. Mandy hadn’t known the difference. He shoved the lamp at Mandy again. He seemed to be filled with anger one second and then sadness the next.

Mandy grabbed the lamp from him. Is this key to finding Cindy? Did someone tell him to give me this so they would recognize me as Cindy’s friend? Are they going to ask for ransom? Her thoughts ran a million miles an hour, so to match that, she started running, too. Even though she kept saying ‘Sorry’ as she bumped into shoppers, they kept looking at her with disgust. Yelling coming from behind her made Mandy turn around. But it wasn’t Cindy or her kidnappers. It was the merchant from the lamp stall; yelling and running after her. They might have Cindy, but I am of more use to her alive than dead or captured. She kept running, bumping into people, apologizing, and running some more until she got to the end of the alley and turned right. Mandy took a deep breath in and then took a peek at the alley. The merchant was up on a crate, looking around for her. But she was safe. All she had to do was make her way to the hotel and alert the authorities… The embassy…

A hand on her shoulder made Mandy snap back into reality and she jumped, swinging the lamp.

“Ooooh. That’s a nice one. Must have cost a pretty penny. Bet it’s heavy, too, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t swing it at me.” Cindy stood in front of her with two cups of Moroccan tea.

Mandy hugged her friend, making sure that she wasn’t a ghost. “You’re OK!”

“Watch out! You’re gonna spill the tea!”

“Where have you been?”

Cindy rolled her eyes. “You can’t tell by me holding two cups of tea after telling you I was going to get something to drink?”

“You did what?” In the corner of her eye, Mandy noticed the merchant make his way toward the end of the alley. “Never mind. Let’s go. I’ll explain on the way. Hurry.”

*Apparently, ‘tarmac‘ is not a correct term to use in that context. Did you know?


“Not a Merchant”

You can buy mascara
to darken, thicken, and lengthen your eyelashes;
You can buy hair dye
to cover the gray or change your hair to a more fashionable color;
You can buy lipstick
to apply coloration and texture and make your lips appear more desirable.

You can buy new clothes,
You can buy a purse,
You can buy jewelry,
You can buy a watch.
You can buy all that
to look smarter, sexier, or more professional.

But, you can’t buy a new soul
to be a better human being.
I am not a merchant
but your God.
You can’t fool me
with masks, ornaments, and trinkets.

I created you with love,
perfect in every way.
It pains me to see
you lose your ways.
Cherish your spirit
and nourish it.

It doesn’t cost anything
and you don’t have to wait in line for the newest upgrade.
Be humble and kind
and do what’s right.
For your soul is in danger
not just today but for all eternity.


“Write a story inspired by the word ‘merchant.'”
– prompt used for this CW piece.
[Source: BlogBattle]


P.S. As always, you are more than welcome to use this prompt to inspire your post. If you decide to write something, be sure to pingback to this post so that I can get an alert and check out your piece. (A post on how to do pingbacks can be found here.) If pingbacks are not your thing, feel free to simply leave a link to your piece in the comment section below. The more, the merrier!

Stay golden,

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34 thoughts on “CW: “Missing point of view” and “Not a merchant.”

Add yours

  1. If you want the latest upgrade
    You must go to the source.
    Your outside raiment cannot ever
    EVER change your course.

    If you’re looking for the guarantees
    You must beware of where you look:
    The pictures on the internet
    or what’s inside The Book.

    The gurus and the self-help guides
    Won’t see that which you hide.
    But your God does and He tells you
    “Your answers are inside!”

    Your prayers and petitions
    Will not fall on deaf ears.
    Intuition is God speaking
    and He will dry your tears.

    The stuff we use to “improve” ourselves
    Can only change outside.
    But God can Grow the best in you
    Your best you is inside.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I did not know that I should use “apron” while walking on the tarmac. Things I learned today.

    These were great, but I think I’m getting too used to your horror-bent – I kept waiting for a shoe to drop.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was half convinced that a kidnapping or murder was going to happen, so I was surprised when it didn’t, and instead turned one of the girls into a thief! 🤣

    I’ve heard the term apron before, but it’s not commonly used (nor do I usually use it).

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I love this story and poem, Sam. Your descriptions are so vivid that I almost felt like I was there with Cindy and Mandy. I could feel the suffocation of being in that cab with stuck-shut windows (I’ve been in a taxi a couple of years ago in the hot weather with a faulty window, too.) I could also feel Mandy’s sense of panic when she couldn’t find Cindy. This is a great story and a lovely poem.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I love that you used shorter paragraphs for the story.
    I don’t think I am great at reading, so this makes it easier for me to follow.
    Like most comments already mentioned, I feel like I was there in Marrakech. I have never actually been there, but some southern Eastern Europe have the same type of atmosphere. All special price for you my friend, mass produced in China 😅.
    Great twist again too!

    I loved the poem too!
    I once listened to a book called “skin deep” and it has pretty much the same message.
    Question though: do you think you can see if someone is a good or bad person by the way they look?
    Some people claim the eyes of serial killers show their evil. And all is I see is just two dots in which ever eyecolor they have.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love dialogue. As a reader, and as a writer. But that seems to be frowned upon by more experienced writers, so I try to add more descriptions and longer paragraphs. But this one just felt right to do it that way. Glad you enjoyed reading it. It flowed for me as I wrote it, too.

      What a great question. I used to be kind of obsessed with looking at people’s eyes to try to figure that out. Eyes can definitely show a variety of feelings and emotions. However, I also like to look at the bigger picture – the face, the clothes, the mannerisms, etc. Yes, I think sometimes you can just tell by a glance at their eyes but other times it can be harder.


  6. Oooh, I loved this adventure story, with these two friends entering what is to them a strange new culture for them to explore–and to perhaps learn a great deal about themselves in the meantime. Your descriptions really brought me into that busy, vibrant area. It’s also a great example of the fears that can come from visiting an unfamiliar location, especially with all the warnings and such in our world today. It was easy to connect with both Mandy and Cindy in these circumstances.

    Brilliantly done!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You got me! From the beginning I suspected Cindy was up to something nefarious, especially after Mandy expressed concern about kidnappings and later on Cindy picked out the clothes for her to wear. When Cindy disappeared, I thought it might be a ruse to get Mandy accosted, or maybe Cindy fell victim to her own trap. But then Cindy shows up with tea … and Mandy leaves with a ‘free’ lamp (coincidence after Cindy’s remark about free stuff?). Great way to teach me not to take your writing for granted! 🙂 It’s obvious the only English the merchant knows is how to haggle, a gem of amusement in this tale. Absolutely loved your poem, too. Sort of a two-for-the-price-of-one bargain!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My alternate ending was to get Mandy accosted and then Cindy comes back with the teas and can’t find her friend, but I wanted to have this post be a complete story and not leave it open. (I’ve been doing quite a bit of it lately, which makes me wonder if that’s how longer stories are created.)

      As always – thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. What a great ‘free’ catch!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. That was an enjoyable tale, filled with action and colour, both Mandy and Cindy three dimensional young folk on an overseas adventure in a land I could almost see and taste.
    I must admit being of a Fantasy bend there was an anticipation of Cindy being trapped in some oriental item. Entertaining surprise when she turns up with two cups of tea and Mandy has become a thief. The tantalising ending of Mandy being quite content to hang onto the item and not return it with an explanation, another twist…’she will explain’.
    Very enjoyable.

    The poem was a lovely addition, redolent with truth about the shallowness of the stuff we garb ourselves in and judge other people by.
    The last two lines:
    ‘For your soul is in danger
    not just today but for all eternity.’
    Truly clinching it.


    Liked by 1 person

      1. Troubled with reading & writing too much Sci Fi & Fantasy is getting to assume everything is about those subjects.
        It was fun to realise I had been reading about folk in a more ‘realistic’ situation….and have the feeling there could be a few more stories with Mandy & Cindy; characters with potential.


  9. I love how you keep me on my toes. I never know what to expect from you! Last time I didn’t expect horror, and it caught me off-guard. This time I anticipated it, only to be surprised again.

    The story seemed to be about a willingness to try new things and approach the unknown. Similar to last month’s tale. The one friend’s reluctance, which turns into accidental thievery, all over worrying about nothing. Had she simply followed her friend’s advice, perhaps she wouldn’t be wanted for theft. But—on the other hand!—if her friend had gotten kidnapped, wouldn’t we all be thinking, “Gee, I wish she hadn’t spent so much time haggling for that damned lamp!”?

    The poem at the end was also lovely. You can’t buy a better soul, but you can work towards one without spending a penny. What’s that old adage about the best things in life being free?


  10. A great story. I felt myself identifying with Mandy – being out of her comfort zone and the panic that overcame her when she found herself alone. Being deaf in one ear I also know how easy it would be for her to net hear her friend tell her where she was going.
    An even greater poem – important message!

    Liked by 1 person

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