Friday Freebie: Coffee Date

A belated gift to your for National Coffee Day (this past Tuesday.) Behold: The Coffee Date…

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            When he told her he loved her, she asked him why. They’d been sitting at the same sticky counter of the same dingy café for an hour, tops, and the words had been somewhat of a shock to her system.

She studied him when he didn’t answer.

The man’s hair was black, slick. He smelled of Old Spice aftershave and some off-brand deodorant. His tie dangled around his neck, and his collar was unbuttoned.

Maggie had stopped sipping her latte for this slovenly man; she needed an answer. Time, after all, wasn’t free—and neither was this decaf, non-fat vanilla grande with extra foam. “Why do you love me?” she repeated.

He gave her a look that said, “You’re kidding me, right?” But his tone was civil when he replied. “Work with me here. We come to this joint every day, yes?”

“Yes,” Maggie agreed. What was he getting at? “We do come here every day, goodness knows why.” She gave a meaningful look around the café, her nosed turned up.

He smiled and nodded his agreement of her assessment. “And we both order the same decaf, non-fat vanilla grande latte with the extra foam on top, right?”

“Right.”

He chuckled, a deep, rich sound that made her hopes sore up to dangerous heights. “So when I said ‘I love you,’ did you really think I was talking to you?”

Reality snatched at Anticipation’s tail, holding it earthbound. Blinking hard, Maggie flipped over her copper hair, forming a veil between them. She did not want him to see her expression. On the outside she was angry. On the inside, though, she was raging. Darn tears spoil everything.

He leaned over and whispered through the confessional screen of hair, his breath reeking of coffee and vanilla. “I said I love the food. It’s to die for, isn’t it?”

Maggie scoffed. What had she expected? A proposal? Marriage? A Family? Ridiculous! Finally, after all these weeks, she worked up her nerve and asked him the question that had been burning on her lips: “Who are you? We’ve never met, right?”

A pause. He laughed, one loud blast of sound: “Ha!”

The curtain of hair between them parted. “What?”

“Nothing. It’s just…when you said that, you reminded me of someone.”

Maggie’s eyebrows shot up into her bangs. “Who?”

“That’s the thing,” the man said with a frown. “I don’t remember.”

Paging Dr. Foor. Dr. Foor to radiology.” It was a cold, feminine voice blasting out through speakers somewhere in the room.

The two looked at each other. They looked around for the speakers, but couldn’t find them.

“Well, this was fun,” said Maggie, rubbing her forehead. “Tell me you don’t love me again some time.”

“It was a pleasure for me, too, miss.”

Dr. Foor from radiology shook his head. He’d been standing there, observing the odd exchange, pity welling in his eyes. “They must’ve really loved each other, once upon a time.” He turned to his patients. “Come on, Mr. and Mrs. Miller; time for your CAT Scan.”

Free Friday Read (Because I Felt Like It)

(This was written in last week’s writing group. We were all given the same opening line and were told to write the rest of the story until time was up. The following came from goodness knows where.)

Lace ties unraveled from her hair.

Rapunzel had been living a lie. Sure, she was stuck in that tall tower with the witch as her warden, and there really was a real prince who visited her every weekday when the witch was out. The lie? The lie was…complicated.

Her hair, her glorious golden locks, were full of lice.

Her Prince Charming, who climbed the long tresses hadn’t noticed…yet. Perhaps he figured that his raging case of itchy scalp was the fault of his faithful companion, a man named Philoneus, who was cursed to walk on all fours for the rest of his days, unless he found someone to love him just as he was–but that’s a different story for a different day.

Rapunzel had tried everything to get rid of the lice: shampoos, tea tree oil, hexes. But the lice were still driving her bonkers.

It came down to this: would she do what needed to be done to save her sanity and end the wretched itching? Or would she keep her true love?

“Sanity before hu-MAN-ity.” She lifted her straight razor and went to work on her hair. “Goodbye, Prince Charming, never to climb my locks again. Farewell.” The blade snicked across her scalp, golden waves tumbling.

The City: A Slice of Life

In honor of this fairly bad day, I offer up this little vignette. Enjoy.

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The city, in all its infamy, loomed before Cindy, the one, the only, the fabulous…But it mattered no more. Cindy was a has-been, a washed-up star of the moving pictures before they became talking pictures.

Where there ought to have been wonder, Cindy looked around her with disdain. “Can’t they clean things up?” she thought, like she was still somebody. Someone. Something.

The buildings climbed heavenward, and the farther into the city she strutted, the taller they grew. It were as if someone, God maybe, had taken a giant watering and willed the dead concrete to sprout roots and reach for the stars.

Cindy had been a star, a bright, shining star. And now what was she? A black hole?

“Move it, a-hole!” a balding buffoon barked at Cindy, who had just stopped to light a cigarette.

So, Cindy was an a-hole. “And what does that make people who live in this city by choice?” she wondered.

She changed her mind about the cigarette, dropped it to the busy sidewalks and watched as some elderly slut in heels ground it down unwittingly. The ashes scattered beneath many quick-moving feet, and blew into oblivion, caught in a stray wind. It was a metaphor for her life: all hot one minute, withered to nothingness the next.

In her mind’s eye, she was back in her childhood home, all dressed from head to toe in satin. Cindy’s skirt was blue, the top white with a blue sash bow tied around her left arm. “You’re my little star,” Mother said as she nursed the youngest, Sarah, a golden-haired child with no sympathy for Cindy’s drama.

“I’m going to act on the stage when I’m big,” she told her older brother, James, who snatched the nosegay right out of her hands and held it aloft. “Jimmy, give it back. It’s mine, from my many adoring fans.”

“You’ll never make it on stage,” James laughed, passing the nosegay to their younger brother, Clark. “You’re too dim.”

Dim, Cindy thought as she now stared at the graffiti on a brick wall in a back alley. It reminded her of that moment in her childhood, the moment when she had decided once and for all that she would prove James and her father that they were both wrong. And now here she was, in a big, strange city with no money and no name and no star.

She thought of her father, James Senior. He had been bald for all of her existence, and maybe then some. A stern man, he had unsuccessfully forbidden her from pursuing a career in film. “It wouldn’t last, Cynthia,” he would tell Cindy. That was before they found the cancer in her throat.

He’d been right: it was all hopeless, cigarette ash in the wind. Maybe she’d take up writing song lyrics. “My career is dead.” In this day and age, it could be a hit, an anthem for a generation. My career is dead. Dead, mute career-woman walking. She slumped to the ground and wept.

A Frayed Knot and a Short Story

This is where a joke could possibly be inserted. But this isn’t funny. This is serious. I’m serious: my nerves = frayed.

You see, one of the sad truths about being a writer is that we take things too lightly and too seriously at the same time–at least, I do. “What is she taking seriously now?” you ask. Good question:

– Twelve things out on submission, waiting for an answer

– Writing/publishing future

This song

And I am a bundle of nerves. But if I were very serious and very stressed, I would be writing my book right now and not worrying over publishing. A treadmill walk, isn’t it?

So, to end this rambling/weird post, here’s a micro fiction that I wrote. I hope it stresses you out and makes you laugh, because I am so stressed and need a good laugh right now. Behold:

The Ice Cream

She sat in the park and at her ice cream slowly. It had been given to her by a stranger jogging past. Just the end of the cone, mind, and it wasn’t chocolate. It was Strawberry. Mm. Daisy’s favorite.

What would Mom think? What would Mom do? Try to grab it out of her mouth, no doubt. Maybe even make her throw it up. The thought made Daisy hurry and finish that treat before Mom got back.

Daisy saw Mom down the way and quickly scarfed down the rest. She smiled at Mom innocently…tail wagging.