Flash Fiction Drama: Catch the Coffee; Response to a Challenge from Chris Mills

The Challenge

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:

Genre: Drama

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!

An old-fashioned coffee grinder.  Do you take sugar?
An old-fashioned coffee grinder. Do you take sugar? | Source
You can grind your own coffee.
You can grind your own coffee. | Source
There are so many blends from which to choose.
There are so many blends from which to choose. | Source

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?

Pour hot water into your filter (just off the boil to avoid a bitter flavour)
Pour hot water into your filter (just off the boil to avoid a bitter flavour) | Source
Espresso?  Capuccino?  What would you like?
Espresso? Capuccino? What would you like? | Source
Willow bends with the times
Willow bends with the times

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.


Dave's Solution

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

Source

Customers galore!

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?

  • Yes, a little
  • Yes, a lot
  • No, waste of time
  • No, don't have the confidence to stretch my boundaries
  • I'm happy with my writing without challenges
See results without voting

More by this Author


Comments 58 comments

annart profile image

annart 3 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks Shyron!

Ann


annart profile image

annart 3 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks Randy, I appreciate that. I think I've deleted the right ones but you can tell me if not! It's good to know some look out for others.

Ann


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 months ago

Ann, I received the e-mail and I do understand, it made perfect sense, thank you for the explanation I am so glad that is the was it is. This is a wonderful story, glade you took up the challenge.

Blessings and hugs dear friend.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 3 months ago from Southern Georgia

Ann, I hesitate to mention this to you, but you have a couple of spammers in your last few comments. This can hurt you in several ways. You can delete this comment but I thought you needed to be aware of the possible harm.


annart profile image

annart 3 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks for the return visit, Shyron!

By the way, I've replied to your email and I hope it makes sense!

Thanks for the friendship and support.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 3 months ago from SW England Author

santosh: Thank you for your comment.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 months ago

Ann, I came back to share this again, I had forgotten about Chris's challenge and had to come back to read this again.

I love these challenges and this one is one of my favorites.

Blessings my friend


annart profile image

annart 3 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you Kelly. Hope you liked the story.

BTW, this is a hub. I don't do blogs! Either way, I appreciate your visit!

Ann


annart profile image

annart 5 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks Peg! I enjoyed writing this story and I'm so glad you liked it. Somehow the challenge inspired me, as did the smell of a coffee shop when I was a child.

Ann


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 5 months ago from Dallas, Texas

Your story was well-told and held my curiosity right up to the last word. I love the old man talking to his cane and mulling things over. I could almost smell the beans as they were ground. Great story.


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Nadine. Good to see you! It's good to use all the senses in writing too, I think. Not always easy but then something about coffee lends itself very easily doesn't it?!

I hope someone takes up my challenge to use some innovative language.

Thanks again for the visit. Hope your week is good.

Ann


Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 14 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Wonderful story and a very good tip given at the end.Yes our five senses have to be positively triggered to make a success of any kind of business to do with food.


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Catherine. Yes, coffe is all pervading which is wonderful - as long as you like coffee! Good to see you today.

Ann


CatherineGiordano profile image

CatherineGiordano 14 months ago from Orlando Florida

A charming little story. Perhaps Charlie should hook it up to the door so whenever the door opens, the machine grinds and the aroma of coffee fills the air. Coffee is a good deodorizer.


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, maj, for your comments. Glad the story engaged your attention. Yes, the smell of coffee appeals to many who don't actually like the taste - strange! I don't like tea and, sad to say, I don't like the smell either! Ah well....

Thank you for visiting today.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Jo, for such kind words. I'm pleased you liked this and I appreciate you stopping by to read and comment. Great to see you.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Hi Will! Thank you so much. I don't think there are many who don't respond to the smell of fresh coffee - wonderful!

Glad you liked this. You are the master of story-telling so I'm flattered by your comment.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Hi Dolores! Thank you so much for your input. Glad you liked this and I appreciate your comments regarding the use of sensory elements. I just love the smell of coffee and that childhood memory has stayed with me since experiencing it.

Good to see you here.

Ann


travmaj profile image

travmaj 15 months ago from australia

A most enjoyable read Ann and I was intrigued Charlie's coffee shop and what could be wrong. . I certainly couldn't work out the problem so the story kept my attention to the end.

Have to say I love the smell of coffee and would be happy to visit and let that aroma surround me - unfortunately I don't care for the taste!


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 15 months ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Ann, a thoroughly good read. I can still smell the aroma of roasted coffee beans wafting on the breeze. A masterful response to Chris' challenge, well done, but I expected no less. :)


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 15 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I really like this one, Ann! What a clever idea to work in his diminished sense of smell with the exhaust and then the tantalizing aroma freshly ground coffee!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 15 months ago from East Coast, United States

Hi Ann, I found this flash fiction piece on my feed. I love the sensory elements that you used to create an atmosphere. So often when people write, they neglect that one so important sense, smell. Happily, I read this while drinking my morning cup of coffee!


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Theresa: Thank you for your lovely words to make me smile this morning. I'm pleased you enjoyed this. I had some trouble getting the proper link onto Chris' list but managed in the end! Hugs to you, my faithful friend.

Ann


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 15 months ago from southern USA

Oh, Ann, I was there in the midst of the noise, sights and unforgettable aroma ...coffee! You certainly lived up to yet another challenge in your usual unique creative style that never disappoints. The cane with its own personality is what gave this write that extra special touch. I'm not sure why I missed one until now? I kept seeing your comments on others and I thought I need to click to see if you had taken a little time out from all of your travels and here it is! Always such a treat to read what your mind puts down on paper ...well computer. Blessings always, lovely one


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you so much, Shyron, and thanks for sharing; that means a lot.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Hi, ps! Thank you for your kind comment; it's always good to know what effect stories have and if they've worked well so I'm happy this 'reeled you in'!

My best to you and yours too.

Ann


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 15 months ago

Ann, this is a wonderful answer to the challenge by Chris Mills. I have to go read Chris’s hub.

Happily sharing


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 15 months ago from sunny Florida

Awesome story.... I HAD to read on...you hooked me and I reeled me in....so glad it ended well...I really do like happy endings..

Angels are on the way....ps


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Hi Mary! Thanks for your comment. Glad you enjoyed this; I had fun giving the cane a bit of character.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Alicia. I'm glad you enjoyed this. I always love the challenges and this one had more restrictions, which is good.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Hi Ruby! Thank you for your comment. Glad you liked this.

Yes, it's a shame we can't define our appreciation like before although it can all be said in the comments I suppose. At least they've left the share button - for the moment!

Ann


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

jay: 'custom'

Thank you for reading.

Ann


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 15 months ago from New York

A touch of fantasy or maybe whimsy that hooked us from word one! I knew somehow, the cane would help find the answer and it was certainly a surprising one.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 15 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a lovely story that is very enjoyable, Ann. It's a great response to the challenge.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 15 months ago from Southern Illinois

I loved your intro. ' Noise owned this town. ' Very detailed and written well. I love the aroma of grinding coffee. You met the challenge with an exceptional hub. I wish I could vote this up, alas!


jay 15 months ago

in the sub section A haven amongst Industry last pagraph did you mean custom or customers


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Flourish. Yes, the senses bring back all sorts of memories; I find that fascinating. Music and smells do that for me.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Dora. Yes, wise old friends are invaluable, especially ones with wise old canes!

Ann :)


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Venkatachari M: Thank you so much. Glad you can smell the coffee; I'm happy to have made it happen!

Ann


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you so much, bill. I'm always happy when I receive a wonderful comment from you because I know you say what you think!

I'm also happy that the fun comes through. And a 'brilliant' to finish with - wow, I'm smiling and will be all evening, bill!

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Ann :)


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 15 months ago from USA

Very nice contribution to the challenge. People are certainly led by their senses.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 15 months ago from The Caribbean

Interesting story, Ann. A simple solution which would really not be simple if were not for the insight of a wise, old friend. Everybody needs one.


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 15 months ago from Hyderabad, India

Wonderful story. I can smell the aroma of coffee from here through your descriptions. Great crafting.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

What a wonderful depiction of a bustling city...what a fun tale told. You really are such a fine writer. I can picture you sitting and smiling as you weave your tale. Well done, my friend. Simply brilliant!

bill


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

David Roy: Thank you for the comment. I appreciate you reading.


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

FatBoyThin: Thank you for your kind comment. I had fun making the cane have its own character and I'm pleased you picked up on that. Thanks for visiting.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Wow, Chris! Thank you for your wonderful comment. Your appraisal and praise means a lot to me and I'm pleased my story panned out as it did, kind of on its own. That sentence you mentioned was added in the last draft and now I'm really pleased that it was!

Thanks for the challenge. As I've mentioned below, smelling the coffee in the street was a childhood experience of my own, so you brought back that memory.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Jackie. Glad you enjoyed this; I appreciate your support and the compliment.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, John. I'm so glad you liked this. I enjoyed writing it as it brought back my own childhood memories and I still love coffee, the smell and the taste!

I appreciate your kind comments and your support. Great to see you today.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

mckbirdbks: Yes I did have fun with this. I based it on my own childhood experience when out with my mother; we often passed a coffee grinder's in Brighton and I've never forgotten the smell!

Yes, I'm using the share button a lot more. Thanks for the visit and kind comment.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 15 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Randy. Glad you liked this. Yes, I too love the variety these challenges create. Such is the human mind!

I appreciate you reading and commenting.

Ann


David Roy 15 months ago

Nice Article ... The coffee shop was teeming - with coffee but not with people. http://www.trainingbangalore.in/android-training-i...


FatBoyThin profile image

FatBoyThin 15 months ago from Kinneff, Scotland

Great story, Ann, and I love having the walking stick as a character. Good one.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 15 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

Ann, You began this wonderful story perfectly with a memorable phrase that summed up the theme and the problem. Your backstory took a backseat until you had hooked us in two short paragraphs. I wanted to know how he would get the coffee shop teeming with coffee AND with people. You told a story all your own that was warm and touching but rooted in the hard reality of starting a business. Phrases like this are what writing fiction is all about: "Noise owned this town, fresh air avoided it; the traffic hooted, swished and belched." I could hear it, see it, smell it, and in the end, when the coffee was brewed, I could taste it. Well done, Ann.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 15 months ago from The Beautiful South

Very enjoyable; as your writing always is. A great challenge and you certainly met it.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 15 months ago from Queensland Australia

Ann, this was a very engaging tale with a satisfying outcome. Great response to the challenge. Very descriptive, I can smell the coffee wafting along the high street.Well done.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 15 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Ann, what a nice story and nice presentation to the challenges. I sensed you had fun with the writing. No bumbs along the way. No buttons to vote with, so I suspect we are being guided to share more helping traffic.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 15 months ago from Southern Georgia

Very nice, Ann. :) Amazing how so many different yarns explode from merely two prompts. Glad you responded to the challenge.

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