The Extraordinary Cafe

2년 전

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The warm smell of fresh brownies drifted across the cafe, ducking under the tables, squeezing through chairs, urged on by the fans; it flew. A gooey batch, chocolate chips still soft, had appeared on the counter. So loudly rang the placing of the tray, that Matt’s eyes glanced over, his mouth already watering, and so the enticing aroma managed to make him half consider ordering two.

Over Matt’s head, a clock's hand ticked a steady background beat, drawing his attention. For all wandering eyes, it was ten to two; she was twenty minutes late. A huff of impatience escaped his cracked lips, his mind drifting back to the crowded room.

An elderly man sat slouched at the table across from him, his broadsheet newspaper out of place in a room full of faces glazed by the light of phone screens. Matt‘s hand instinctively touched his own in his pocket. If he got it out, his eyes would be glued hard to it, in case the light flashed. His mind knew it would vibrate, but the flash came first. It was an addiction he couldn’t fight. Not to the phone. To her.

His mind buzzed and beeped, unable to fight the itch of wonder…

”...where was she?”

The old man‘s mouth let go of a cough, accompanying the symphony of crinkling as he flipped a page. Matt’s eyes darted up, accidentally catching his gaze, the man smiled at him eagerly folding the paper away.

Matt’s mind shuddered, cursing itself as the man rose, heading towards him. As soon as the stranger came within ear shot, Matt called out trying to put him off.

“Sorry mate, i’m waiting for someone.”

The grin over the worn face widened.

“Someone who still ain’t here yet, ‘ow about a bit of company, to help with the waiting? Whatcha say?”

Put on the spot, Matt’s thoughts already ablaze, he found himself nodding before reason could interject. The flame in his mind was inundated with worries and the urge to call her now - to see where oh where she was. Matt didn’t have the patience for small talk, but it was too late; the elderly man was lowering himself into the chair opposite.

The chair eeking with the slow applying pressure of aching joints, a wry smile found itself on the old man’s lips. In the opposite side of tension: a forced smile began forming on Matt’s dry lips, his hand quivering but extending for an introduction...

"Matt..." He began

The old man smiled.

"I know..."

...

Heather glanced over at the clock at the far end of the cafe for the umpteenth time, as she struggled to contain her impatience. He was never late, never. Yet somehow, twenty minutes had gone and Matt was still a no show.

And why, oh why hadn't he called?

In her mind she started to worry about the possibility of him meeting up with an accident. But she shrugged away the thought almost immediately. No, Matt was just not the accident type.

The loud sound of a tray as it was placed on the counter momentarily stopped her train of thought. Heather turned her head in time to catch a glimpse of freshly baked chocolate cupcakes before they were taken away by a smiling customer.

She swallowed, perhaps she should eat. Matt may have kept her waiting, but she didn't have to stay hungry. She glanced again at the clock, and she let out a resigned sigh. She would give him a few extra minutes. She only needed to find something else to occupy her mind in the meantime.

Her eyes glanced around the faces in the almost crowded cafe. Everyone seemed busy, eyes glued to the newspapers and magazines in front of them. Except one. Odd she thought.

Heather watched curiously, as the old lady across from her held her phone close to her eyes, obviously struggling to see the contents on the screen. Then seemingly exhausted, she pulled her eyes away for a moment. Heather tried to do the same...

Too late, their eyes met momentarily and the old woman smiled.

Heather returned her smile, then made to signal the waiter. But she stopped halfway when the old lady stood, and started making her way to Heather's table.

"He's keeping you waiting?" The old woman asks, upon getting to the table.

Heather nodded, not knowing what else to do.

"Well, ‘ow about a bit of company from an old lady, to help with the waiting? Whatcha say?”

Heather smiled again, and nodded. Perhaps small talk was what she needed, to take her mind of the strange theories of why Matt was still a no show.

The old woman extended a wrinkled hand. Heather took it...

"I'm Heath..." She began, but the old woman raised a second wrinkled hand to stop her.

"No need for introductions.." she stated. "I'm Heather too. I'm you..."

THE END...?

#SladenSpeaks


Written for @bananafish's Finish The Story Contest

Been off the grid recently due to the various activities surrounding the end of my service year. Finally all that is done now, and I can embrace the uncertainty of the future...

While I write...


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Damn @seesladen - how do you maintain this standard! <3

What have they stumbled into! I really love how you've taken the 'extraordinary' element and put it in centre place, i had been hoping for some high scifi in here!

Is this, by any chance, an interdimensional cafe (<3<3<3)?

It feels like they have both arrived, on time, but are sat in different versions of the same place, separated by something greater, the idea of the both waiting for each other in the same place is such a great premise, and the old woman being her, implying the old man is him, it feels like a linking chain in a greater time travel story, time and dimensions, you know how to tick all the boxes!

I sincerely hope these two don't have to spend their lives looking for each other, and manage to solve this dimension rift with some help from themselves who already lived it. I would really, really love to see the next instalment, it very much feels like she ended up trapped there, her older self returning to greet her, i love how you turn some elements around to show the dimensional contrast, the old lady being the only one glued to her phone. Yep, you can't do this to me, you tip the world upside down so very well, on such subtle levels, it feels so much like the next dimension, she has to find her way back to him... right?

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Damn @calluna, how do you maintain this standard?

Someone should crown her the comment goddess already!

Anyways, I loved that you enjoyed my bit. Yeah, I intended it that way. They both came in on time, but then something triggered the extraordinariness of the cafe in both of em. I wanted to say perhaps they took certain matching steps, or followed a particular pattern on their way in... Buh well, that's left to the imagination of y'all now...

Do they spend their lives looking for each other?... Hmmmmm, I really can't say. Didn't think of the story beyond where I stopped. But who knows, maybe they only get to meet when they are old... The key being somehow in the hands of their younger selves (who never realizes they hold it till they are old, and get to meet their younger selves too... And repeat, and repeat, and repeat...

😉

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Nahhh, no crown for me, i just have some great inspiration ;)

Of course! That makes so much sense with the mirroring of the story. Well I like to think that they keep going back, they return to the cafe again and again, hoping to encounter themselves and break the cycle. The curse of two so well matched, separated by the very thing that united them <3 ohhh the happy sad that just gets me so bad, and this wonderful skill of yours, where a story just touches me more, the more i think about it.

This is an original take where sci-fi or alternative realities mix with romanticism. They're there, but at the same time they're far from each other in space and maybe also in time. Will they manage to bend the rules of this space-time fold through the strength of their love? A surreal ending that reminded me of one of those Escher's paintings.

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Now I have to go look up Escher's paintings... 🙃

[Leaving this comment here so @f3nix can replace this with a proper comment, I Victor don't have the time to make a proper comment for a few following days.]
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🤗😁

I'll be calling you sometime in the next couple of days

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And this is why I have to be on my comment game, because others will fill in my clown shoes... I damn love those clown shoes!

La filosofía (The philosophy): If we just so conveniently ignore the great comment made by mój Ukochany and look at mines, we can then pretend my comment is auto-magically original... Okay to delve into a less serious stance other than the time traveling thing and inter-dimensional diners, there is definitely a center-focus on the relationship aspect and the life-stealing focus it has. To the point where they cannot think but of each other, like that the story does a gender flip and reveals the same to be true of Heather (what a cheeky way to mention a name that I so happen to know) and future Heather. Which then, by the necessity of what's laid out here, suggest a very balanced / mirror relationship they have to the point where it further suggests that this event couldn't occur without them being so united...

La forma (The form): ... Which then suggests a time loop that has to be maintained or else they couldn't meet their younger self and enjoy the life they had growing up. Let's leave it as is before we get into the talks of manipulating matter and how that is truly the basis of time, (quantum mechanic) equations be damned for it needs matter to contingently exist to birth them. Also the position skip (which equally, to follow the mirror filosofía uncovered) was brilliant to allow her to reciprocate her love to him and maintain the balanced aspect to their relationship. Also using italics for dialogue is very useful, especially bunched up with non-dialogue text. To remark on dialogue for a bit: nice job on continuing the possible implication of matter manipulation of the elderly man to meet his younger self.

(Okay mój Ukochany is on a killing spree with these comments, how does she keep getting away with these!!!!~ Oh wait... I did make her my official mouthpiece... Damnit, I should've not given her the technology to rip galaxy hoppers at will! I bet she uses that to travel to my unconsciousness everyday now when I sleep... No wonder she knows me so well and can predict me... Well if this is the price of having good comments from her and @calluna being best cuddle buddy, then I wholly accept this price!)

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Those shoes yeah? Now who's the culprit? Let's bring him/her to the shoe maker...😊

Well, time is there to be manipulated, ain't it? At least inthe literary circles we've almost mastered the art.

Cheers!

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You could use the word “they/them” as a singular, unknown gendered person. Just saying this just in case you run into the middle English folk or realize that “you” used to be a plural for “thou” and “thee.” <3~

Hue!~

快乐!

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Well there is that old rule, heather is heather is heather. One is many, the many are one. As one heather is, so is another, together we are the same, our differences overlapping the gaps between us, so really it the perfect name for a story where two characters are one in the same!

(pffff, i may be a skilled thief of the high seas but I don't steal from friends :p just learn from them)

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To a metaphysician, their head would be spinning. To dialecticians like me, this is a gold mine to tap into. I wonder how in-story Heather is doing now~

(You sure about that, thought I saw a chunk of my brain 1-to-1 on your drawer. Funny I still feel in tact and without stitches at all... hmm...)

A multiverse experience. Nicely done.