Welcome to my newest writing experiment! The idea is, every week I'll go to a cafe with my laptop, sit for half an hour, order a coffee plus the cheapest thing on the menu, and let what I see and hear in my surroundings inspire me to write a short piece.
Disclaimer: I know what some people are like, so while this may be obvious I think I should reiterate that this is a work of fiction. The point of this exercise is to let my surroundings inspire me - and that's all this is. That means the things you read here is likely a mix of reality and imagination. If, in some bizarre occurrence, you think you're one of the people I've described, then please remember a) that this is all in the name of writing and enjoyment and there is no offence meant and b) it probably isn't you anyway. I should also point out that any names - place or person - will have been changed.
Now all that's done, I hope you'll enjoy this first piece - it was a really, really hot day.
October 20th, 2012
A blackboard is propped against the doors of the café, pale blue chalk scratched out in absurdly neat handwriting the specials of the day. 'Appealing salads', screams the board. Luckily they also have good coffee.
The walls are lined with a pattern of hearts and spades in an intricate design, imprinted on a shiny sheet of metal. Under the stream of sunlight, they gleam with a dull grey lustre, lending the room a rustic, Parisian atmosphere.
A woman struts in wearing a tight fitted teal green dress studded with large pink floral flowers. She has a pair of oversized sunglasses balanced precariously on the tip of her nose and her lips are spread with gloss the shade of ketchup. When she turns around, above her baby pink pumps, a tattoo of an anchor on her leg becomes clear, black and burnished, coupled with a matching tattoo of a treasure chest on her other leg. She tosses her pale—almost white—blond hair back over her shoulders and accepts the low fat yogurt she has ordered.
Sitting at a table pressed against the side of the wall, a man sits in jeans and a loose floral shirt (is it floral season?), sucking the straw in a glass of ice chocolate. He is middle-aged; there is a tired looking wedding ring nestled tight on his finger. There is a pair of worn mud-brown leather loafers on his feet with white laces – evidently new – that stand out brightly against the faded brown. He never takes his shades off; they are his protection.
An elderly couple – him in a faded blue and white striped Billabong shirt, her dressed completely in white down to her sneakers – exit the café. 'Thank you,' they say cheerfully to the waitress behind the counter as they pass by. The waitress smiles and says 'thank you' in return. We are living in a thankful city.
Across the street, a much younger couple walks hand-in-hand. He is pointing out buildings and sidewalks, chattering excitedly, gesturing with gusto. She hides beneath her shades, lips pursed, her free hand clutching her handbag tightly, nodding as they walk.
There is suddenly high pitched squealing and loud laughter. An exponential line of girls wander in, all wearing brightly colored sundresses and sandals. 'He said what?' One of them screeches, and they all collapse into giggles as they settle into a table at the corner, shuffling to squeeze all of them around the tiny marbled tabletop. There isn't enough room so they have to sit stiff and straight like Barbie dolls. 'I had to work all day yesterday,' one brown-haired Barbie announces to the group, 'I had to push this really heavy cart all the way from Turner Street to Fork Street. I was exhausted.' Another Barbie sympathizes: 'That is, like, illegal.' She agrees.
The sun is blazing. The heat is melting my phone. The air conditioner in the cafe is broken. Out on the road, a family in a bright blue sky-colored Honda whizzes by, windows down, smiles on their faces, a large straw hat visible in the back seat.
Summer has returned.