Let’s say there’s a woman coming down the stairway into a hotel’s bar one late afternoon. She wears a dirty crepe-de-Chine infinity scarf. The bartender mops the floor where she’s sitting on a bar stool and tells her he heard she separated from George. As a reader you know she’s a regular. At the other end of the bar is a younger woman talking, not to the man beside her but to a cat lying in the triangle of sunlight cast through the open door. She’s wearing a trendy skirt, but the hem is coming down. As a writer, you make up a story. This young woman is leaving the man beside her. All she can see ahead are the viscous summer sidewalks and the 3 a.m. calls which will make her lie awake and then sleep only with the help of sleeping pills. She touches the loose hem and wishes she had a safety pin. Use the double meaning. Wishing she could fix things, she smells the disinfectant the bartender uses on surfaces. She can’t find words to say when the man beside her leaves, but she makes friends with the woman wearing the dirty scarf. She can’t talk to the man she loves but loneliness drives her to make friends with a stranger.
Isn’t it fun to rearrange things for our characters?