Flash Fiction Drama: Catch the Coffee; Response to a Challenge from Chris Mills
Chris Mills (cam8510.hubpages.com/) issued this challenge in his hub 'Five Steps to Writing a Solid Flash Fiction Story ***Plus a Writing Challenge***'
This is what he said:
'Here's how it works. I'm giving the participants a genre to write in, a location where the majority of the story must take place and an object that need only be mentioned in the story, although it may play a more prominent or even a key role.
Write a 1,000 (or fewer) word story using the following prompts:
Location: Coffee Shop
Object: A Walking Cane'
So why don't you also have a go? See Chris' hub for instructions on linking yours to the list.
Wake up and Smell the Coffee!
Catch the Coffee
The coffee shop was teeming - with coffee but not with people.
How could this be? It was on the high street, there was no significant competition, there were people aplenty. Charlie couldn’t understand it.
His dream had always been to own a coffee shop, to provide a convivial atmosphere where his customers could relax, chat, set the world to rights over the perfect cup of ground beans. He'd loved that smell ever since childhood; walking with his mother past the coffee grinder's, he would take a deep breath and savour the bitter aroma wafting from the doorway before it pervaded the High Street, hovering above the pavement until closing time.
Sadly his sense of smell had faded but his memory held it, strong with a soupçon of smile.
He’d opened the business a month before, having put all his savings into buying the premises, doing them up and furnishing the bright room with deep, cream chairs round highly polished mahogany tables. Old photos of coffee grinders, Parisian cafés and the story of the coffee bean graced the walls. A few people stepped through the door out of curiosity but trade just didn’t flow.
Filtered or Machine?
A haven amongst Industry
His little café was designed to provide a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the main drag, from the humdrum life of those who had to shop, to work, to meet and greet or the lonely who simply wanted company. Noise owned this town, fresh air avoided it; the traffic hooted, swished and belched. Those who came through his door could enjoy a little time away from all that.
When Charlie was talking to an old friend one evening, he asked,
“Dave, would you do me a favour? Come along to my coffee shop in the next couple of days and tell me what you think. I’m not getting the custom I expected and I can’t work out why.”
Dave & his Cane
Charlie’s old mate agreed to come along; two days later he entered, sat himself down at one of the window tables and rested his walking cane against the windowsill.
It was a cane of unusual hue, made of willow, unpolished and with a slight bend from Dave’s constant weight. Now and then, he fed it with linseed oil which gave it a sheen but allowed it to absorb its surroundings. A cane which sucked in the atmosphere, the sights and smells, life itself. It was Dave’s constant companion, his main-stay and it told him much.
“Well?” asked Charlie after a couple of customers had gone. “What do you think?”
“I’ll come back tomorrow, Charlie. When my old cane’s taken me home and we’ve had a chance to mull it all over.”
“Ok”, Charlie smiled. He knew he had to humour Dave who often talked to his beloved stick. There was no rushing him and he wouldn’t dream of it.
At the end of the week Dave appeared at Charlie’s door and sat himself down by the window once more.
“How’s it going, Dave?” Charlie was pleased to see a friendly face after only a scattering of customers. He took the chair opposite.
“Fine, just fine. Think I’ve found your answer but you’re not going to like it.”
Charlie frowned and, elbows on table, waited for Dave to continue.
“My cane gave me the answer. There was something troubling me but I didn’t twig until I got home. Then he shouted at me as I shuffled past the hall stand where he sits by the door. Strange aromas hit me - touch of gas, hint of metal.”
He thrust the cane under Charlie’s nose. “You smell it?”
“My sense of smell disappeared years ago, Dave. Couldn’t smell an old trout if you hit me with it.”
“Fumes! That factory down the road, all those cars outside, the fumes come into your shop with every customer. They linger here and folks don’t like it.”
“But I can’t pick up this shop and take it elsewhere!” Charlie was despairing. “What can I do? I’ll go bust! I’ll lose everything!”
“Hang on a minute, me old mate. Calm down! You don’t have to go anywhere. My old cane here has the answer. You got a coffee shop, ain’t ya? You gotta tackle one smell with another. Remember that old coffee grinder’s you kept goin’ on about? Well….?”
Taste the Aroma, Catch the Coffee
Charlie closed his coffee shop for one day to make a few alterations. He re-opened and was never short of trade again.
Go along to the High Street! The wafting aroma will take you there. You’ll see the coffee grinding machine in the window. Each time the door opens your very soul will be filled with the bitter tang of those wonderful grains. They devour, they envelop, they extinguish every polluted air bubble which dares to exist.
You’ll see Dave too, with his cane sitting by the window absorbing it all.
Do you Like a Challenge?
There are often challenges here on hubpages. Various types of prompts spark an idea and set us off down the writing track.
Do you respond to photos, to words, to phrases or maybe to objects? Any of those can be the basis for a story or a poem or a non-fiction article.
No matter what you think you can or cannot do, you'd be surprised where a challenge can lead. You can push your boundaries and flex your muscles. Be brave, journey, explore and expand your vocabulary, your imagination and your own phraseology. Make up your own idioms, your own similes, your own metaphors! Why keep to the norm?
Break free and see what happens! I dare you.
Copyright annart/AFC 2015 (text & photos)
What do you think?
Does a Challenge Improve your Writing?See results without voting
More by this Author
Interesting idioms and phrases including the word 'dog'. Another word chosen at random, its history and its uses, presented in a short story. It also looks at some breeds of dog.
Challenges push a writer's boundaries, something we need to do all the time or we do not progress, nor improve. This story tells of a personal challenge which many face, dealing with another's pain.
A word doesn't have to have an immediate impact to be important. 'Let' is not a word you would pick for being diverse but when I started to think about its uses I came up with a surprising number