Lorna’s Gin-spiring Prompt #4 – People Watching – The Coffee Shop #Ginspired

The lovely Lorna over at Gin & Lemonade With A Twist Blog has started a new writing prompt.

She hasn’t named her challenge, so I have – Lorna’s Gin-spiring Prompt!

This week, we have the words: Write about someone you see while People Watching.

I am recycling a much older post which I had taken off my blog – a bit of fiction which was kinda about people watching… and there are a few instalments that followed it too!

The Coffee Shop
She sat amongst the crowd, looking aimlessly around. This wait… It seemed like forever she’d been sat there, mentally twiddling her thumbs. She didn’t want to really do it, what if people thought she was mad?
The queue at the counter grew and shrunk, almost like the ebb and flow of the tide. Six customers, five, four, three, oh, up to five again. Then down, four, three, two. And up again. It was a continuous flow of caffeine-starved individuals, or groups of friends, meeting for a catch-up.
Glad she’d got there early, bagging her favourite spot, she had set up her ‘tools’ ready for the day. Laptop up and running, pen and paper, iPod ready with suitable music.
She was on her third drink so far, and it was only 10am. But still, she was waiting… Her cursor flashed at her impatiently on the laptop screen. She glanced at her notebook… An empty page stared back at her.
Slowly, the coffee shop emptied and there were just a couple of tables occupied. Great! A bit of calm. It’ll happen, any time now. Before the lunchtime rush started would be good. She hated being jostled around, or glared at, as she sat at her special table, not moving, but gathering empty cups over the day. Wouldn’t but be easier if they served coffee by an intravenous drip for people like her? So no need to queue up again and again. And while they were at it, a colostomy bag, to save the trips to the toilet too.
Looking around, she observed the others, manning their stations. She wasn’t the only one, regularly haunting this place for days at a time. There were a couple of others.
There was old Bill. He used to come here with his wife, was here at the opening 23 years ago he told me once as we queued for our refills. They would come each Monday to Friday at 10am for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Apart from when they were away, they were here every day.
Until his poor wife, Mabel, was taken ill. Cancer, he told me. Breast cancer. They hadn’t realised there was anything wrong. Mabel hadn’t noticed anything unusual, Well, she wasn’t used to really looking at herself, or feeling for anything different.  At her age, she thought she was past all that nonsense. Then one day she noticed a stain on her bra, discharge from her nipple, and realised that was not normal. Off they went for the checkup.
And after all the tests it was discovered that she had breast cancer, at quite a late stage too.  No wonder she’d been feeling so tired recently.  The weakness hadn’t gone unnoticed, but she had put it down to her advancing years.  The doctor suggested all the treatments, but what would it do?  Strip her of more energy, her hair and of her dignity, and for what? Maybe a year or so extra onto her life.  She took a decision, with Bill’s agreement, to not have any treatment, and to live whatever life she had left as best she could, with her head held high.
They continued their daily routines, while Bill watched his wife gradually grow weaker and weaker. Soon she could no longer get out, the appointments and check-ups were becoming more frequent.  As the end drew closer, she was admitted into a hospice, and before the day she left Bill forever, she made him promise to always go to their ‘special’ place and have tea and cake, and remember her.  She would joke that maybe he’d meet a kindred spirit there to take away the loneliness.  So here he was, regular as clockwork, Monday to Friday at 11am.  it had taken him a while to stop ordering two cups of tea. Habit, he said. But still, he would sit and reminisce, thinking of his beautiful Mabel and when they would be reunited.
Then there was Sarlota. A beautiful, haunted-looking girl who sat at the same spot every day for up to Two hours with her skinny lattes.  She would sit, and wait, drinking her coffee, and after a phone call, she would up and disappear.  sometimes it was more or less straight away, sometimes it was for longer. but without fail, when that phone rang, she went.  She had never got a chance to speak to Sarlota.  In fact, she wasn’t even sure if that was her name.  She had heard her say it on the phone sometimes so had christened her anyway. She had a slight accent, possibly Eastern European, but who knew… She wondered who would phone her, and what was so important that she would often leave a fresh cup of coffee and rush off…
Today, however, as the crowds dispersed, she noticed another solitary camper.  A new face.  A young guy, maybe her age.  Dark hair, slightly longer than his collar, jeans and a simple tee shirt and jacket. A pair of last seasons Nike on his feet and a pair of black rimmed glasses rested on his nose.  He was reading a book, she couldn’t quite see what he was reading, but it must have been good.  He hadn’t looked up it seemed since he sat down an hour ago.  Quite possibly she had been staring too hard, and he must have felt it, that sensation of someone’s eyes on you.  He looked up, and straight over at her.
She looked away. Oh, how embarrassing! To be caught staring at someone.  Especially when she had something more pressing to do!
She quickly picked up her pen and started to draw.  She had to make herself look busy.  As she doodled, her mind started to wander. What might his story be? As she looked up, she noticed him watching ‘Sarlota’. Then she saw a strange thing, his book that he was reading was covering what looked like a phone, and he had it pointed right at ‘Sarlota’.  He appeared to be filming or taking pictures at least.  Why would he be doing that?
Bill was still sat there, looking at his cake.  He hardly ate any of it nowadays, pushing it around his plate, then after finishing his tea, he would leave.
‘Sarlota’s’ phone rang. She picked it up, answering “Sarlota” then listening and within a few minutes, she had gathered her things, ready to leave.
The guy behind was watching. It looked like he was definitely taking pictures. As she left, he got up too, and quietly followed her out of the door, seconds later.
Bill sat, oblivious to his surroundings. No one else seemed to have noticed… But she definitely had… And finally, she got what she had come here for. Her fingers began to whizz across her keyboard, pausing, only to reread her typing, and scribbling ideas down.
She’d never really know what the truth was, but her imagination had been running wild. Inspiration had hit, and she felt good.




26 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. byrnewithme
    Oct 11, 2018 @ 03:01:47

    Really enjoyed reading this!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. sarah9188
    Oct 04, 2018 @ 15:37:02

    I’m going to need a sequel; I need to know what happened with Sarlota. I absolutely loved your take on this prompt. Excellent writing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Anindya
    Oct 04, 2018 @ 04:40:16

    That’s a nice and interesting one to the prompt, Ritu..:)

    Liked by 1 person


  4. CarolCooks2
    Oct 04, 2018 @ 01:28:21

    Nice pacing, Ritu… It kept me reading fom start to finish 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Debbie Harris
    Oct 03, 2018 @ 21:43:52

    Fab response Ritu, I loved your story from start to finish❤️!

    Liked by 1 person


  6. ellenbest24
    Oct 03, 2018 @ 20:29:49

    A sharp write. But gentle to. A super response to the prompt.

    Liked by 1 person


  7. dornahainds
    Sep 30, 2018 @ 18:57:33

    Fantabulous! 😎🥀

    Liked by 1 person


  8. Jennie
    Sep 29, 2018 @ 03:21:09

    Wow!! Powerful and tenderly written.

    Liked by 1 person


  9. foodzesty
    Sep 28, 2018 @ 06:08:33

    Nice Ritu!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


  10. syl65
    Sep 28, 2018 @ 05:15:11

    A little heartbreak and some intrigue with this one Sister! Happy Friday!

    Liked by 1 person


  11. TanGental
    Sep 28, 2018 @ 00:10:33

    neat, yes definitely very neat!

    Liked by 1 person


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