Cafe Stories – The Burglary and The Diet


The café is at the crossroads.  It is set back from the road, with a large parking area at one side and a smaller grassed area at the front.  There are tables and chairs on the grass, in case anyone is brave enough to sit outside. From my seat by the window, I can look down the High Street and today being Friday, it is quite a busy thoroughfare.  I am surprised that the elderly couple, who normally sit at the table across from mine, are not here. I wonder what the problem is and hope nothing has happened to either of them.

Halfway through my first cappuccino I look up and see them at the crossing, waiting patiently for the traffic lights to change. I relax and smile, happy that they seem alright with no outward sign that anything is amiss.

Seated at the small table at the back, next to the magazine rack, Barry the Builder is eating his full English. I only see him on Fridays, but I am reliably informed that he is here every day without fail.  He is working on the new housing estate where, according to him, the houses being built are expensive, but have a ‘great spec’.

Next to me, two ladies are discussing the diet that one of them has just started. It seems quite harsh – no carbohydrates, no fat, no sugar, lots of protein and three vitamin supplements every day.  The one on the diet has lost 1 stone so far and tells her much slimmer friend she is determined to continue until she gets to her desired weight. From where I am sitting, it seems she has a long way to go.  I look at the Danish pastry on my plate and wonder how many calories it contains, but eat it anyway.

The elderly couple are telling the waitress that their house was broken into last night and have spent quite a long time with the police team.  Recounting the story, the lady is visibly upset and Kath, the owner of the cafe, comes forward with a pot of tea and a comforting arm.  The man says that the police phoned him, just before they left the house, to let them know that two boys have been apprehended.

I feel for them.  We were burgled once, a long time ago and it took quite a while to stop thinking about strangers rifling through our possessions and being worried about leaving the house empty for any length of time. Kath thinks it’s disgusting and says that quite a lot of houses in the area have been broken into during the past few weeks.  Barry gets up to pay his bill and tells the couple that if he had his way, the boys would be flogged. They think it a bit extreme, but Barry is convinced that it would stop the boys doing it again.

The friend of the lady on the diet, orders another coffee, ‘could you do me a large latte?’ she asks in a sort of self-satisfied voice, Kath tells her she will bring it over. With friends like that, I doubt  the diet is going to last for long…

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday morning on the 10.25


Countryside as Seen from a Moving Train

 

“Are things any better with Jack, or still the same?”

“They’re still the same.  I’ve tried my hardest to find out what the problem is, but nothing I do makes any difference. I’m afraid I have just given up.”

As the two women take their seats across the aisle from me, I try not to stare. Their conversation has aroused my interest, set my imagination to work.

I wonder what on earth could be wrong with Jack and think up several different scenarios.  Is he ill? Perhaps he only has months to live and couldn’t bring himself to upset his wife and family. Or is he facing redundancy and feels depressed, wondering how the family will manage without his salary? Or has he found someone else?

I decide it must be the latter. It will explain the change in his attitude to his wife, the reason why she has given up.   He doesn’t really want to be with her but just can’t bring himself to end their relationship.  I imagine them in their semi-detached house with small manageable garden, they have a mortgage and three children; the youngest would not have been planned. They used to holiday abroad for two weeks each year, now they take one week and spend it in a caravan somewhere in the Devon, barely speaking to each other.

He met the woman who became his mistress at work.  She is tall and slim with a terrific personality, quite attractive with a great sense of humour. His wife was like her when they first married, he tells her, but now she is more interested in the children and her family than him.

The train races along and I am tempted to take out my notebook, but it is in my bag on the luggage rack and I am unwilling to cause a disturbance. I resist the temptation. I make a mental note to always make sure the notebook is in my handbag. The conversation between the two women is spasmodic, their voices low.  I find it hard to hear anything further without making a fool of myself.

As the train enters a long tunnel, I have the opportunity to study their reflection in my window.  Although a slightly distorted view, I see two women in early middle age; the one who had asked the question seems the younger of the two and is now reading a magazine.  The other woman, the “wife”, is half-heartedly nibbling on a sandwich, staring into space.

Small stations flash past. The train will only make three stops before reaching London. I find that I feel sorry for the wife, she probably has done nothing other than carry on as she always has.  Perhaps she too longs for more; a more interesting life, a more attentive husband, but feels it’s too late to do anything about it.  She is just resigned to things the way they are, getting on with the mundane tasks life has handed her; a home to run, a husband and children to care for.

I decide that she looks like a ‘Susan’ and her friend is called ‘Louise’.  I am busy creating lives for them and their families when the train pulls into Paddington. I gather my bag quickly from the rack and follow the two women from the train.

“There they are” calls Louise, pulling Susan’s arm and hurrying her along.

They walk towards two young women, waiting by the coffee shop.

“Where’s your dad?” asks Susan sounding worried.

So, Jack hasn’t even bothered to come to the station. I feel sad for her; she is still hoping for a change of heart, while he obviously just doesn’t care anymore.

Suddenly there is a commotion and out of the crowd a man comes running, being pulled along by a very excitable West highland terrier.

“Oh Jack” Susan cries  stooping down to grab the dog, who is  trying his best to jump up to her, “you’re back to your old self.  I was so worried we were going to lose you.”

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I feel more comfortable writing ‘memoir’ pieces and would welcome your feedback if you have the time.

Hayride


I have missed the Friday Fictioneers community in recent weeks, due mainly to lack of inspiration and a lost muse! However, after my previous post, thanks to some very kind messages of support from Erin, Dawn, Ruth and John, that basically told me to ‘just get on and write’ I have a story;  a memoir prompted by Sandra’s photo this week.

Thanks as always to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for organising the prompts and supporting all the writers, and this week to Sandra Cook for her lovely photograph.

28 February

Genre: Memoir

Word Count: 100

Hayride

I remember.

‘Come on up. You can do it!’

I struggle, balancing on fat bales. My grandfather pulls me up and drops me on the hay.  I pick bits of straw from my unruly hair then scramble forward to watch Joe start the tractor.

The sun is warm on my back, the air is still. I feel hot, the straw scratches my legs and they itch.  My father waves his shirt to me from the open gate, he is laughing, happy.

At the farmhouse, my mother and grandmother wait with warm scones fresh from the oven…

That summer, long ago.

 

For more FF stories click here 

To help with my personal reboot, I have also changed the appearance of my blog. There are a few glitches to iron out, but I hope you like the new layout.

Fearful Symmetry – S is for Strangers


Something in the way he smiles draws my attention

Soft woollen sweater draped casually across broad shoulders

Sunglasses pushed up on his forehead as he reads the menu

Sipping a glass of red wine he looks out across the piazza

Stealing a sly glance I catch his eye

Smiling widely he raises his glass I respond with mine

She walks from behind me and takes the seat beside him

Slow blush flares on my cheeks I lower my head hiding my embarrassment

Soft caresses tenderly whispered words of love

Stabs of jealousy surface and are gone

Sure in his affection wrapped in his arms she turns towards me

Smiling she raises his glass I smile and raise mine to her

Silently acknowledging her youth and beauty

Surprised by the happiness I feel for these two lovers

Strangers yet universally recognised

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(Read more about Symmetry here )