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September 30, 2011
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In the corner of the ill-lit cafe, Clare sits alone and tries to blend into the wallpaper peeling off the sloped wall. Cracks chase cobwebs from floor to ceiling and around the fake candle light-fitting that flickers and hums, bare wires expose their pretty copper heads. She's been nursing the same cup of coffee for four hours, and though it's long cold she still holds her hands around it like a campfire on a teenage summer night. People have come and gone; though small, the cafe holds a lot life. Couples have cuddle into the marshmallow sofas, mothers have forced prams through the impossible obstacle course of mismatched furniture, suits have taken their drink and left without seeing the hopeful tip jar and Clare has sat quietly, unnoticed, watching them. Things have slowed now. The barista leans against the counter with the radio cleaning glasses and the only customers left are two school girls wincing into their coffee and a man who's been here longer than Clare.

She's hoping if she sits here long enough, completely still and completely quiet, the student humming along to The Smiths will lock up, turn out the lights and leave without realising she's there. Then Clare can sit alone in this dark, strange room all night. The boiler will groan, the walls will creak and the wind will whistle through the gaps in the window frames in a way that gives the shadows eyes and brushes imaginary hands over Clare's skin. In the morning the watercolour sunlight will seep into the room, eventually washing over Clare and heralding a new day. Like a baptism, the sun will burn away the remnants of Clare's life before she found the light and her skin will glow fresh with its aura. Her eyes won't be stained with the things she's seen and she'll walk into the world with her head held high and her heart singing.

Clare raises the cup to her lips and takes a slow sip. It's cold and gritty on her tongue and she grimaces as it slides down her throat. The schoolgirls sit giggling on the low couch, legs folded up under them. The brunette with French-plaits sits with her back to Clare, but she can see the face of her friend with the Ronnie Barker glasses. She wears pink lipstick and there's a hole in the sleeve of her school jumper where she's chewed through it, just as she chews it now. The brunette is nodding and Ronnie nods along absentmindedly; both are content, together in their own little worlds. Clare feels that she is staring but can't draw her eyes away. She's fascinated by the way their body language mimics each other as they fidget and sway in their seats. It's as if they're choreographed this dance but without form or logic so it jerks and bobs in a series of messages only they can interpret. Clare studies them as if to discover the secret of their modest happiness.

'Sorry, were you done with that?' The barista is standing over Clare's table pointing at her mug. She had forgotten people could technically still see her and his words don't penetrate for a couple of seconds in which she stares at him blankly. Then the cogs connect and, in her rush to compensate for the pause, she makes a jumbled noise of consent that's a little too loud and resonates in her burning ears as he clears the table. As he walks away, she shuts her eyes and counts slowly to ten, and then to twenty and beyond as she tries to settle. She's at 67 when her phone vibrates; two sharp buzzes that pass through her body like an earthquake. She almost expects the scene to have changed when she opens her eyes, but the hazy room is still exactly as it was. She doesn't look at her phone.
First piece after a short hiatus, and it feels so good to be back! I wasn't planning on writing today (I should have been working, my bad) but I missed it so I did this instead.

If you're wondering what's wrong with Clare, she bumped into a friend who she hurt and hasn't forgiven her.

I'm a little worried my stuff's getting kind of samey... Maybe for my next piece I will try and shake things up a bit.
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:iconsolaces:
Solaces Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2011
I like how lyrical this is, but without bringing attention to itself. It just does its thing and never becomes overly purple. I admire that.:)
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:iconpursuingthecerberus:
PursuingTheCerberus Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2011  Professional Writer
Hi!

Thanks for sharing this with the group!

I did enjoy it very much. I was intrigued by Clare and what her problem was. Favorite dog passed away? Boyfriend cheated on her? Didn't get into the college she wanted? You somehow catch the readers attention without the story leaving her seat at the cafe. I particularly enjoyed her dramatic imagining of staying in the coffee shop after hours with all the lights off...the groan of the boiler...the sunlight coming in the next morning...great stuff!

I would consider inserting some sort of inner monologue touching upon the problem that has led her to be at this current place and time. I realize you said it in the comments, but the reader should be rewarded for their patience in reading through the paragraphs with SOME SORT of information regarding the main character. It is obvious she is troubled, you do a fantastic job of painting this, however there is no real understanding by the end.

There are many great lines in here some that jump out at me:

"bare wires expose their pretty copper heads"
"though it's long cold she still holds her hands around it like a campfire on a teenage summer night."
"couples cuddled into the marshmallow sofas"

Watch out for lack of comma use in the below sentence.:
"the barista leans against the counter with the radio cleaning glasses and the only customers left are two school girls wincing into their coffee and a man who's been here longer than Clare."

^^ consider changing the last word "Clare" to "she has". The POV seems off when saying Clare in this particular instance. I noticed the use of CLARE in several spots where "her" would have worked better.

With some trimming and a bit of expansion I think this could be a VERY solid little short story.
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:iconraaawrli:
Raaawrli Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2011
Thank you so much for your feedback, I'm going to be looking at reworking some of my pieces over the next couple of weeks and I'll be sure to take your advice on board.
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:iconpursuingthecerberus:
PursuingTheCerberus Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2011  Professional Writer
Great! I look forward to the revisions!! I hope you found my constructive criticism helpful. As a writer myself, I know how valuable it is even if at the time it is a bit frustrating or annoying. Have a very happy new year!!
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:iconjanoera:
Janoera Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2011  Student Digital Artist
The descriptions in the first paragraphs are beautiful. I love this part, mothers have forced prams through impossible obstacle courses of furniture, suits have taken their drink and left without seeing the hopeful tip jar. Impossible obstacle courses of furniture sound really cool. But one thing that threw me off, the plural in "obstacle courses". Perhaps there being just ONE complicated obstacle course would be better, phrase it as something like "...forced prams through an impossible obstacle course of jumbled/haphazardly strewn/some-word-that-makes-it-sound-messy furniture."

It's an interesting read, I look forward to seeing more from you:)
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:iconraaawrli:
Raaawrli Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2011
I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and thank you for your advice; I think I agree with you and will be changing it :)
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