Finding Agnes: Florida

She grabbed her carry on from the overhead compartment and walked to the door. She wished her ears would pop.

She walked down the jet bridge, the voices of the others mingling in her head.

As she emerged from the dark walkway, her eyes took a moment to adjust to the florescent lights of the terminal.

She was disoriented by the small crowd of passengers that had disembarked just ahead of her. Some were trying to find their next gate, others were trying to find baggage claim, a few were already pulling out cell phones to notify someone of their arrival.

Strangled by the stale air of the airport terminal, she felt dizzy. She looked up at the signs, and made a run for the exit.

She pushed through the double glass doors and filled her lungs with the fresh but humid air. She closed her eyes and felt the sun warm her face.

As the dizziness subsided, she opened her eyes and looked around. Cars were lined up along a curb, people milling about waiting for whoever they were waiting to arrive. Some were holding gifts for their loved ones. A few held simple signs with last names, drivers waiting to take important people to important places.

She saw a twenty-something man loosely holding a white sign with bold lettering, a cigarette dangling from his fingertips. She walked towards him, throwing her shoulders slightly back to mask her trepidation.

“Miss Johnson?”

“Please, call me Matilda.”

“Welcome to Florida, Matilda.”


This piece was written as a part of my fictional work-in-progress, Finding Agnes. You can find more about Matilda here.

Red Writing Hood is a weekly writing meme from the Write on Edge community. Constructive criticism is appreciated.

This week’s Red Riding Hood prompt: The prompt for this week is to use setting to deepen the development of your story.  You can use it to give insight into a character or a conflict or simply to evoke an emotional mood from your reader. If you choose memoir this week, take us to a location that holds particular meaning for either a particular event or for your life as a whole. You have 250 words, so make them count!


Photo credit to ckramer. It has a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.

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13 comments on “Finding Agnes: Florida”

  1. Stacey

    You captured the experience of disembarking well and the scene at the airport was spot on. I was curious why she felt a sudden need to be outdoors. One piece of concrit, the sentence in the second to last full paragraph that starts “Cars were lined up…” was a little confusing.

  2. Erica

    I too wondered why she wanted to get out of the airport so quickly but it’s a work-in-progress so maybe doesn’t need explanation?

    I liked the ending. It definitely left me wanting to read more.

    I would simplify this sentence–> felt the sun warm her face. It doesn’t flow well. Maybe change it to something like “the sun warmed her face”

    i think you missed a word here–> Cars were lined up along a curb, people milling about waiting for whoever they were waiting to arrive.

    “for whoever they were waiting for to arrive.”

    i have much to learn about editing so bear with me please. OK this sentence here seems problematic –> Cars were lined up along a curb, people milling about waiting for whoever they were waiting to arrive.

    I would change it to cars were “lining” up along the curb while people “milled” about. It doesn’t seem right using “cars were lined up” with “people milling” I don’t know the technical term.

    Was any of this useful? Please I’d love feedback.

  3. Lance

    My middle daughter flew for the first time a couple of months before she turned 4. When we left the Atlanta airport and walked to our car she said “daddy, we’re back to normal now”.

    That’s how I felt when she closed her eyes and left the terminal. well captured.

  4. SAM

    I have only flown once when I was 5 and I have no recollection of it. I enjoyed this experience with the sights, sounds, and smells in the airport. I also wondered why she rushed for the exit–was it the stale airport air?

  5. shelton keys dunning

    Airports are overwhelming creatures during busier hours. I think you captured that image nicely. My concrit would be the use of “some” “others” “a few”. It seemed repetitive or overdone. As intense as her reaction to landing was, the effect of the “big picture” was almost too calming. Perhaps a focus on one or two specific details to keep it chaotic. Include the random shouts of “Where’s the blasted bathroom?” or “Can you hear me now?”. Have her trip over someone’s haphazardly placed luggage or someone rudely step on her feet.

    The cigarette was a nice touch and I love the “Welcome to Florida”. Well done!

  6. Nancy M. Campbell

    I really like how true this is to the flying/airport experience. It moves the story along, as her actions indicate some nervousness on her part.

    A small suggestion? You start many sentences/paragraphs with the pronoun “She.” You may consider editing for sentence variety/fluency in later drafts.

  7. Nancy M. Campbell

    I left a comment, but I fear it was eaten.

    Short version: I love how this moves the story forward, and how true it is the flying/airport experience.

    Since many sentences start with the pronoun “she,” you may consider editing future drafts for increased sentence variety.

  8. Carrie

    I think you captured the “ugh” feeling from air travel quite well. There is definitely a sense of uneasy and need for fresh air after being cramped up in a flying tin can for hours 🙂

    I have the same critiques as others: there are many unnecessary words that could be cut and a lot of the sentences begin the same way. In such a short scene variety helps to make the images come through stronger, keep the reader going.

  9. Cheryl @ Mommypants

    I liked the disorientation we all feel when we get off the plane in an unfamiliar airport. And the little detail about the dangling cigarette was perfect.

    I think you’d be more effective if you chose more specific words for your descriptions. For instance, “She wished her ears would pop.” would be more evocative as “She yawned, opening her mouth as wide as she could, wishing her ears would pop.” Or something like that. Probably not quite as wordy. Or “her eyes took a moment to adjust to the florescent lights of the terminal.” could be “she blinked in the fluorescent lights of the terminal.” It’s much more active and descriptive.

    Instead of telling us, show us, and I think your writing will sing even more.

  10. Cameron

    I always wish my ears would pop faster. I think you’ve set the scene with a lot of authenticity. I agree with the need to narrow the focus a little to punch up the urgency, but not overmuch. I like that she’s kind of washed over by the airport atmosphere.

    I, for one, like the implied words in your sentence structures. I tend to do a lot of it myself. And since I know you edit professionally, I know you know when you’re breaking the rules for effect. 😉

    Always a pleasure to read here, Rox.

  11. angela

    I think Cheryl makes some great suggestions for little things that will deepen the “show” part of your writing.

    You do such a great job capturing that strange mood found in airport terminals. It’s such a strange collection of people, some on their way TO places, others on their way FROM, and everyone with different stories.

    Great little touch with the driver having the cigarette!

  12. Patricia Royal

    I liked how you described the inside and her need to get outside. Then when she looked around outside, it still had the same crowded feel as the inside. It was like just having the open sky was enough of a difference to sooth her.

  13. Wisper

    I think that this is a wonderful snapshot of the airport. I agree with the suggestion of adding in a little more of the chaos of the airport on her way out. It may help increase that urgency to get away from it. Then again, more of an explanation may come at a later part of this longer WIP. If that’s the case I am even more intrigued than I am now. Great job!

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