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by spud 

Posted: 14 November 2003
Word Count: 602

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Martin shivered as he arrived at the café. He pushed the door open and was instantly enveloped by the clattering, warm fuggy atmosphere - a welcome relief from the dank, grey winter outside. It was busy. Office girls, on a quick lunch-break, gossiped around Formica tables. Boiler suited plumber types sprawled on wooden chairs, enjoying a fry-up and a smoke. “Yes” he thought, “…this will do.” Placing his order at the counter he then found a seat at a window table. Condensation misted the glass, making it impossible to see out. As he sat down his order arrived – tea and toast. Gazing idly at the steam that curled up from the mug, Martin felt a sudden icy blast as the café door swung open. A woman hovered in the doorway, seeming unable to decide whether or not to go in.
“You’re letting the cold in love. Shut the door will yer?”
The café owner’s request jolted her out of her indecision, and she entered.

Martin’s heart quickened a beat. He could see that she was slim and of average height, but anymore than that was difficult to discern. She was wrapped up against the cold and had her back to him. As she made her way towards the counter the hood of her camel duffel coat fell back to reveal silvery grey hair shaped into a neat bob. Martin sipped his tea and watched the woman over the top of his mug. He had to be sure.
“Erm…” she hesitated, “…could I have a cappuccino?”
“Yes love,” laughed the owner, “but not in here I’m afraid. It’s either black or with milk. What’s it to be then?”
“A white coffee please.”
The woman fumbled in her purse for the money and, nursing the coffee in her hands, she turned around to look for a seat. Despite his mounting excitement, Martin kept a surreptitious watch on her. She looked uncomfortable, and it was easy to see why. Sitting down a few tables away from him she slipped off her coat and he could see that she was wearing a pastel pink knitted top. He wasn’t sure but he thought it might be cashmere.

Her hands were well manicured; nails neatly shaped and polished and a discrete gold and diamond band glinted on her wedding ring finger. It was obvious that she did not usually visit this type of greasy spoon. Despite the carefully applied make-up, the fine lines around her eyes and at the corners of her mouth hinted at her age. “Probably in her mid-fifties,” Martin calculated.

The woman sat at the table, fidgety as a child. She checked her watch, kept glancing at the café door and shot searching looks around the smoky room. Martin couldn’t take his eyes off her. He looked at her profile, at the arch of her eyebrows, the curve of her nose and the tilt of her chin. They all looked so familiar. He was too far away to see the colour of her eyes, but he felt sure they would be blue.
It was now or never.
As he made to stand, his chair screeched on the lino-tiled floor and the woman looked up at him. A look of recognition slowly crossed her face and a tentative smile hovered on her lips. Martin knew then that he was doing the right thing. Reaching her table he asked “Sarah?” unable to hide the tremor in his voice. She nodded. “I’m Martin. It’s been a long time.” Sarah stood up, flung her arms around Martin and in a hoarse whisper replied “It’s been a lifetime son.”

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Comments by other Members

Becca at 20:56 on 14 November 2003  Report this post
Yes, I want to see what happens here. Is it the start of a novel? I did think that the one sentence ..'Could I have a cappuccino?' says everything about her being out of place. That's the power of dialogue, you see immediately she's in the wrong place and that his reply will make her uncomfortable, so explaining it as well isn't needed. More to come?

Dee at 15:16 on 15 November 2003  Report this post
Oh yes, Spud. I like this. There must be more, surely? If it's an idea you're kicking around, keep going.
Just a small point: you've put Martin's thoughts into speech marks as if he's saying them aloud. I found that a little confusing.
Good stuff though.

Account Closed at 19:44 on 15 November 2003  Report this post
and... and... you've left us in suspense! I liked the caff - could realy picture it. Plus the description of the woman - just enough info to let us know she's out of place. So please tell us what happened!

Jubbly at 20:27 on 15 November 2003  Report this post
Really lovely. The emotion leapt off the page, well done.

Nell at 09:06 on 16 November 2003  Report this post
Hi Stephanie,

This feels almost like a prologue, so perhaps you'll have to use it as one as all your readers want to read on. It felt like a tasty starter before a meal! I did guess about half way through, and that heightened the tension as of course I couldn't be sure that I'd guessed right. You've drawn the two characters and the cafe beautifully, and one can almost smell the hot fat and frying bacon and eggs. The icy blast from the door seemed particularly apt. Look forward to more.

Best, Nell.

spud at 20:25 on 16 November 2003  Report this post
Thank you all for your kind words. Guess that I'm going to have give this one a bit more thought...

It was prompted by watching a programme about people that were given up for adoption at birth and then went on to trace their birth parents.

Watch this space!

Thanks again


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