Because I’m in a creative writing rut this past year and I can’t go any further on my novel idea. Also because I am in no mental state to do my normal Mental Health Monday.
Here’s something old that I recently resubmitted to a literary magazine. It was featured on WordHaus.com when it was active but hasn’t been around on the net for a year or so.
I’m beginning to think my writing style is more sexual than suspense, which is fine I suppose, but half the time I feel like I am writing smut. Isn’t that such a blurred line though, between sensual writing and smut?
Nothing bothered her more than when the night crew put the hazelnut grinder where the cocoa grinder belonged, it bugged her so much so that she, in a fit of over dramatic and stage-worthy anger, remade an old out-of-date labeling system for the over flooded supply shelf and had every intention of actually putting it up if a customer hadn’t needed a tall too-complicated-overly-sugary-warm-cup of crap in a hurry, or if the constantly stoned night crew would care to pay attention anyway. They get more baked than our sad burnt blueberry scones every morning.
As she laboriously took the two whole seconds out of her morning, (which, since she’s worked here, is now up to 13 whole minutes of her life straightening out coffee toppers) the sickeningly familiar jingle of the bell on top of the door broke her silence.
“I’ll be with you in just a moment,” she murmured as caringly as she could as she finished her personal OCD organizing of the supply shelf.
As she turned to her customer she noticed how poorly she was put together, definitely in a hurry, definitely not a regular.
“What can I get you?” she fake-smiled at the woman when what she really meant was “can I get that lipstick off your teeth before you start your day?”
What a way to go into this harsh working world, red hair askew, buttons clearly buttoned in a mismatched rush, gum on her obviously overused red stilettos. Businesswoman? Morning coffee walk of shame? Or just late for a normal day to day job? She always let her mind run rampant with possibilities of the fabulous lives of coffee drinkers. It was one of the best parts of this job, escaping it.
“I’ll have a grande double mocha…um…what’s that thing that’s not coffee but not a cappuccino either? Oh wait, yeah, a latte, I see it, I’ll have a double mocha latte.” Even her speech seemed rushed and mismatched.
She had to admit though, there was something sexy, something mysteriously alluring about her ditzy white smile that exuded what she thought was maybe somewhat misjudged or poorly timed confidence.
Even as she thought the words she wished she could take them back. It was her personal curse in life that people sensed when she became attracted to them. It’s like her pheromones were visible above her head, always telling her secret before the blood in her cheeks had the chance to.
Red, as she was now named in her own spinning head, flashes a knowing, flirty smile and takes a deep breath, like she hadn’t really taken a second to take in her surroundings today, to just remember that she’s alive and the air is good and life is good.
Jealousy overtook her as she watched that good feeling spread through Red’s face, that feeling of unwarranted happiness- it’d been awhile since she took a breath like that.
She was also jealous of her body, the way she effortlessly moved, the way she looked like she was built perfectly just for a man desires. She noticed the stem of a cherry poking out of the top of Red’s heaving left breast as she started making her latte. How cliché. Really? A cherry Red? You’re better than that.
“4.79 please,” she said, averting her eyes and her mind as another customer rang the bell of misfortune.
Red stepped aside as the new customer made his way to the counter, a familiar body shape and footstep fall that made her strangely nervous and comfortable all at the same time.
“Be with you in a moment baby, someone here is an actual paying customer,” she winked. Her joke came out weird and tense and sexual, or maybe she just thought it did.
“Can I get a name for your cup?” she directed at the redhead who was now clearly putting off ‘somebody fuck me’ vibes. Her topmost buttons had somehow come unbuttoned and she swore that skirt was longer when she first came in.
A thick sizzle of steam from the latte machine broke the new strange stare-fest that both she and her boyfriend were now partaking in. Another cliché.
“I’m the only other paying customer in here, remember?” Red spoke sexily, dangerously.
She herself put on her most alluring smirk and flipped her long auburn hair that he loved so much as she turned around to put the whipped cream and cinnamon artfully on the top of Red’s latte. She took extra care to pattern an amusing flower this time, bending over unnecessarily to look a little closer at her work as she went.
When she finally turned around four hungry eyes were scrambling to avert from ass to face, and something inside her felt overwhelmingly aroused.
“Here you are, have a great day…” she lingered her hand noticeably on the cup, sensing that Red would take the bait.
Even her skin seemed to be glowing red as it teased her own, lightly folding over her fingers, saying all that need to be said in the way she let her pinky fingernail graze her arm as she turned around and walked world-stoppingly away.
You know that walk, when a woman knows the room will stop and stare as she saunters away, swishing her hips as ridiculously and beautifully as she can.
Another silence-breaking and stereotypical steam puff interrupted the mutual thought process both individuals were having.
“What the hell was that show all about?” her boyfriend said in the most serious voice he could muster. She knew he was turned on though, his cargo shorts told it all. He was unembarrassed, as he always tended to be in awkward situations, only this time she was okay with it. His mind was running wild with coffee playdate scenarios with Red, she was sure.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” her inner urges were being shown too in her demeanor, the way she slowly moved her body, the way she let her hair fall in her face as she leaned forward and smiled at him. The way she mimicked Red’s moves, Red’s persona…
He leaned closer too, teasing her with his warm breath on her face, showing no signs of being the first to close the gap.
“Did you want something from me?” she said quietly, not shifting her eyes from his surprisingly soft lips for a second. She remembered how he caught her off-guard with the first kiss, how skilled and sweet his lips proved to actually be.
“I did.” That’s all he said, but something in his voice sounded harsh, unwelcoming.
He closed the distance in a quick, painful move. An unexpectedly hard kiss.
He grabbed her hair underneath and bit her lip, sending chills down her body to the places Red could never go, making it obvious what he wanted.
“I’m working.” She whispered, confused by the sudden change of character.
He stopped working down her neck and tightened his grip on her hair. “I bet that redhead could’ve gotten in your pants, even while you were serving decaf frappe cups of shit.”
And as quickly as she left it she snapped back into reality, the sexless, boring, work-filled reality, and all her urges for him went out the door.
“You’re being ridiculous” was all she said as she backed away, preparing for another fight, another long winded reason to hate the person she loved the most.
He always did this. He always ruined a good moment with a bad choice of words. Idiot.
As she watched his eyes change into the cloudy mess that was his anger, she let her mind drift to red hair, long legs, cherry stems…
Another doorbell jingle.
They stared at each other and neither said anything as he backed away from the counter and made his way to the door. He moved through the room like it was easy, like it was a normal thing to do, to be leaving her like this again.
She thought she heard a mumbled ‘love you’ as he left, but he says it so often now that the words wouldn’t have even meant anything anyways.
She wondered how long it would be now, the dissolving of this relationship, this one good thing she had held on to in her adult life.
She also wondered where the night crew bought their pot, that sounded like the perfect way to numb a slow break-up.
For now, she focused on the task at hand and made her oldest regular a simple decaf coffee while in the back of her mind she saw her lover’s smile, with that dazzling red hair crowding her memory.