Excerpts · Writing

Excerpts: A Disturbing Sight

This is the first time I have put my work out in the wild so please be gentle. Very rough five hundred ish words from my most recent short story, still in progress.

Six months is a long time. Six months is no time at all. Which statement was truer? Carmen did not know, so she went back to her espresso. She took her coffee in a wild, revolutionary manner: always a double with just a touch of warm water and exactly a third of a packet of white sugar sprinkled across the surface for even distribution, stirred gently for two seconds with the handle of a tea spoon. It was a method met with either fascination or consternation depending on the viewer, and if the face of the Italian-American barista gawping over the counter was anything to go by it was the latter. Poor man, who emigrated to sample the cosmopolitan coffee culture of Europe and was now watching the jewel of his heritage being butchered by a girl from Exeter. It hardly seemed fair.

Carmen spilled over the edges of the spongy leather sofa in the corner of the room. Apart from a set of woefully stubby eyelashes she was long in every way, gangly her mother had once said, all arms and legs and gushing russet hair that got caught in absolutely everything. Wherever she walked strangers eyed her with concern, seeming ready to spring forwards and catch her as she tripped over her own legs and came gracelessly toppling down. In reality she comported herself well when it suited her, a six-foot-four terror to men on a night out possessed of feline quickness in crowded places. Today she felt softer and cosier, sat happily flicking through a volume of poetry in a pool of golden sunlight streaming through the window.

‘Hey, I really like your boots.’ He had been sat at the next table for less than a minute; his chai latte was steaming heavily. Talk about poor planning, if you are going to start flirting do it when you have finished the drink so you can get out of there when things go south.

‘That’s the best you can do?’ Carmen drawled without looking up. Maybe he is just complementing you, but she knew that was not the case. She had seen and heard him placing his order, loud and gaudy and all yeah mate alright boss how’s it going cheers feller. She was not in the mood, and she had lost her place in the book. He was grunting something as she swiped up her coat, drained her coffee and walked out. The sudden chill of the afternoon ran through her fingers when she slipped them into her pocket to draw out her tobacco, papers and filters. It was a lovely day, wisps of icy cloud skittered across the sky and a bracing wind rustled leaves and wrappers around her ankles.


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