In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Middle Seat.”
My entire body relaxed as I entered the cool quiet of the coffee shop. The electricity that crackled in my brain as I’d navigated busy city traffic at lunch hour began to subside. The tension in my shoulders eased. Unplugged. I sought out this quiet, out-of-the-way place because very few people knew of it. I’d just happened to stumble across it one day; the way I’ve found most of my favorite places.
The owner and employees kept to themselves, the decor was simple, long dark tables, plain white chairs, little art work. Classic jazz played softly through the speakers. Plus the coffee was outstanding. Not trying too hard like the uber-trendy place down the street with bright art work clogging the walls, loud top 40 movie blaring, teeming with hipsters and teens.
I ordered my usual, then settled at in a dark corner in the back with my laptop. I needed to write. I was taking a creative writing course and had an assignment due that evening that I hadn’t even started. A 200 word short story. As soon as I opened my laptop and took a sip of my cappuccino, the door swung open. I looked up briefly, expecting to see another regular customer, but an unfamiliar woman stood in the doorway. She was tall, thin in a fashionable way, wearing all black, a shift dress with expensive boots, minimal jewelry, black hair sleekly blown out. She could have been a model. It was obvious she wasn’t a native Atlantan, and that she was probably lost. She looked like someone who would be more comfortable at the coffee shop a few blocks away.
Her phone bleated loudly, causing the peace-loving owner to look up from her paper and stare her down. She didn’t appear to get the message since she answered it loudly, clomping over to the front counter. If she actually was a model she clearly didn’t work the runways like Gisele. After going through every item on the menu and asking the owner the describe every ingredient in excruciating detail, in between screaming into the phone, she decided on a vanilla latte.
I popped in my earbuds, even though there was no sound coming through them at the moment, and pulled my hoodie over my hair. It was the universal signal of writers and introverts everywhere. Don’t talk to me.
Still, despite the fact that it was mid-day during the work week and the cafe was vastly empty, she chose the table next to me, continuing her excessively loud conversation with a person I assumed was her boyfriend.
“Where are you!” she screeched. “My feet are killing me. I’ve been walking all over the place, I can’t find the restaurant!”
“What do you mean!”
“I flew all the way here just to see you! I took the week off!”
“I don’t want to wait until tomorrow!”
“I knew that woman didn’t like me! She planned this on purpose! She’s probably not even in the hospital!”
“Well take a picture of her and send it to me!”
It was at that point that my mood changed from annoyed to inspired. And I remembered one of the greatest tools at my disposal as a writer – people watching! My fingers began to tingle as I poised them above the keyboard, a story forming in my brain. A long-distance romance between a feisty Italian model and mild-mannered photographer gone awry. Maybe won’t be a masterpiece, but at least I would have something to turn in when I got to class that night.
I turned on some music and started to write.