Chapter 4

Written by: Linda Alley

The passport slipped from her sweaty fingers to the floor. The hand that picked it up held it open at the photo page to reveal Amanda Campbell, US Citizen; she was a green-eyed forty-one-year-old with a stylish black bob cut.

“Thanks.” Mia held out her hand, resisting the temptation to snatch it back.

The passenger behind her was Japanese, with a ducktail beard and a salmon pink shirt. Had she seen him before? She couldn’t be sure. It was never faces that she noticed. His silver-grey eyes lingered on the photo.

Arigato,” Mia said firmly, taking the passport.

He gave a short bow and moved up to the desk.“Ma’am!” The agent called after Mia as she hurried to the restrooms. “Don’t you have a bag to check-in?” She shook her head.  “You are flying from Tokyo to Los Angeles, aren’t you?” The agent’s brow furrowed in polite puzzlement. “That’s right.” In the ladies’, Mia stared back at Amanda Campbell’s reflection. Her black bob tilted slightly over one ear. She had to be more careful. Who would help if she screwed up? Max? She laughed hollowly at the thought. Mia straightened her wig and walked back out into the terminal. Ensconcing herself in a bar, she ordered a glass of sake and observed her fellow travellers. Some people noticed eyes; others were drawn to hair. Mia was a born Features Writer; she noticed magazines.  The man under the departures board was reading Rodman. Mia had been 23 years old when the amateur fishing mag had commissioned her to interview the crew of a cargo ship about fly fishing techniques. An unbidden slideshow of images played through her mind. There was Max, his bear paw hands impossibly deft as he taught her sailor’s knots. Their shared look of awe at the sudden splash of a whale’s tail at sea. A massive trout, writhing on the deck, as Max grinned at her like a kid on Christmas morning, high-fiving his nearest crewmate, a Japanese youth with the shadow of a ducktail beard. 

Mia stood. The reader glanced up. It was him. Ducktail.

She rushed towards the security scanners. Slipping off her shoes, belt and handbag, she dumped them in a tray. Mia looked back. Ducktail was three people behind her.  In front, a family of five were divesting themselves of liquids and laptops.  The youngest didn’t want to take off her coat.

Mia shuffled her feet and rolled her boarding pass into a tight tube. Suddenly she leaned forward, tugged the kid’s coat off, and tossed it onto the conveyor belt. The girl’s mouth opened trout-like, but the security guards were already beckoning the family towards the walk-through metal detector. Mia took a deep breath and followed.

A piercing bleep cut the air. A female guard hurried forward and began patting Mia down. Her hand closed over Mia’s pocket. Mia felt a bubble of nausea surge upwards. How could she have been so stupid? The guard pulled out a small, silver key.




Love the cliff hanger end and the chapter is so visually clear. Great characterization and pace.