Love and Coffee

            Alicia loved to come into work early, before the light and the bright lights turned on, before the first customers congregated before the door and waited for her to flip the sign to “Welcome!” and greet them with grace.  She made herself a coffee from one the of shop’s full bodied blends: a dark roast, a deep bitter so thorough and so dominant behind a little half and half.  Alicia took this drink to the window wall and sat where the kitchen did not share its brilliant glow.  Palms and fingers cherished the warm touch, cheeks received a thousand warm wet wispy kisses, and her presence melded into the dying silhouette.

            One by one her co-workers came, letting one another in while Alicia absented herself from interaction.  She did not greet, did not turn to face or accept good morning bids except with a faint smile and a reply too feeble to dialogue.  If asked, she would justify her seclusion as meditation, but really she just shied from the world and its people.  Her shell of cool and calm protected her; won her peace by assuring no rivals, or allies for that matter.

            A new worker showed his new face at the door and unknowingly beckoned to her with his eyes and his knocks.  Alicia would have ignored him, let the café’s all-star go and greet him with all her endless blonde hair, but this boyish excuse of a man stirred her to blush and dream.

            She’d get up, greet him; smile and establish her charm.  When he saw her sitting so isolated he’d ask about her and feel drawn to the questions swirling around her enigmatic presence.  Wonder would infatuate him with tantalizing curiosity as his brewing fantasies realized each and every morning just how near and possible their love could be.  And when he finally approached her she’d string him along to an eventual confession and they’d get married the day before yesterday.

            Saylene opened the door for him, and she snared another lover to be denied and shelved with the other wannabe boyfriends.  They went to work, and Alicia hid in the refuge of her coffee, but the heat had faded to warmth and no longer clouded her chilly soul with that wonderful fog.

            Outside, the regulars mingled by the front door lights.  Among them, was there a dreamer infatuated with her consistent welcome?  A dreamer for this dreaming girl to wish about love and hope for luck to pre-determine and destine some chance encounter; to date according to fate and not her own courage.

            Alicia grimaced till frustration boiled over and she got up to let the customers in.

            The next morning, Alicia made her coffee and sat in her usual spot.  On her table, she set up a sign that read:

Hey new guy!

Wanna get love and coffee?

I’ve been dancing back and forth between “make love and coffee” versus “get love and coffee” for the last line. “Make love” comes off stronger, but I’m worried it’ll be misinterpreted as “let’s have sex and coffee”. Let me know if you have an opinion on this!


Giving up on a story: sometimes, it’s for the best.

So I gave up on the short story that bound me for a year.

After persisting for so long and so futilely, I decided to pursue volume writing and blogging. I wrote a fiction short short story, and when I cataloged it, I couldn’t help but notice the date of the last completed short story.

November 13, 2012!!!

I realized then, that giving up was absolutely the right decision.

I started Waltz on Water during WCU’s Spring Literary Festival. Listening to all these awesome writers speak charged me with writing vigor and inspiration, and I hit 3,000 words within two days, but then as the festival wound down so did my muse. I hit about 6,000 words by the end of spring and then I kept getting stuck at the same damn point.

I’d write, feel good, and then go back the next day and recognize some flaw so subtle but not in line with the rest of the short story. I kept repeating this series of “try again, fail” until I evaded writing outright.

I can’t identify the problem, because I think Waltz on Water simply surpasses my current writing skill. Maybe hanging around all those great writers allowed me to channel their grace and unlock my full potential, if only for a moment. I lost the beautiful spirit that I drew from those writers and now, Waltz on Water evokes only a gray pain.

When I listened to Paul Harding speak at the Aspen Literary Festival (On Youtube), he was asked the question, “have you ever abandoned a short story?” and he answered “no” quite emphatically. That drove me to finish my short story, but I just kept getting stuck at the same point and I realize now that I don’t have the answer. I attribute some of my stubbornness to my own little ego, which absolutely adored Waltz on Water.

I write because I can’t find what I want to read, what I truly love to read, and if I just finished this short story I could just point to it and say, “I love stories like this.” It would define me as a writer, but I realized now, quite late:

I’m still not sure who I am. I know the parameters, and could tell you what I’m not, but I could not summarize myself with a single statement.

Fairy tales? Magic? Fantasy meets reality? The merger between surreal worlds and realistic people? Yes, but there’s more, and I wrongly assumed myself complete.

You can’t shortcut sheer writing volume.

To borrow from the Bill Bellichick school of thought: nobody makes a Super Bowl team. Create the best team possible that can take a shot year after year, because even when you go all-in you’ll probably fall flat on your face, as I did.

Here’s to quantity over quality! Or at least enough quantity for said quality to matter.