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Flash Fiction: 'Catch the Coffee'; Response to a Challenge

Author:

Ann loves to write stories and poems and is always eager to meet challenges issued by other writers or herself, to exceed her comfort zone.

The Challenge

Chris Mills, a fellow writer, issued this challenge. This is what he said:

'I'm giving the participants a genre to write in, a location where the majority of the story must take place and an object that need only be mentioned in the story, although it may play a more prominent or even a key role.

Write a 1,000 (or fewer) word story using the following prompts:

Genre: Drama

Location: Coffee Shop

Object: A Walking Cane'


Wake up and Smell the Coffee!

An old-fashioned coffee grinder.  Do you take sugar?

An old-fashioned coffee grinder. Do you take sugar?

You can grind your own coffee.

You can grind your own coffee.

There are so many blends from which to choose.

There are so many blends from which to choose.

Catch the Coffee

The coffee shop was teeming - with coffee but not with people.

How could this be? It was on the high street, there was no significant competition, there were people aplenty. Charlie couldn’t understand it.

His dream had always been to own a coffee shop, to provide a convivial atmosphere where his customers could relax, chat, set the world to rights over the perfect cup of ground beans. He'd loved that smell ever since childhood; walking with his mother past the coffee grinder's, he would take a deep breath and savour the bitter aroma wafting from the doorway before it pervaded the High Street, hovering above the pavement until closing time.

Sadly his sense of smell had faded but his memory held it, strong with a soupçon of smile.

He’d opened the business a month before, having put all his savings into buying the premises, doing them up and furnishing the bright room with deep, cream chairs and round highly polished mahogany tables. Old photos of coffee grinders, Parisian cafés and the story of the coffee bean graced the walls. A few people stepped through the door out of curiosity but trade just didn’t flow.


A haven amongst Industry

His little café was designed to provide a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the main drag, from the humdrum life of those who had to shop, to work, to meet and greet or the lonely who simply wanted company. Noise owned this town, fresh air avoided it; the traffic hooted, swished and belched. Those who came through his door could enjoy a little time away from all that.

When Charlie was talking to an old friend one evening, he asked,

“Dave, would you do me a favour? Come along to my coffee shop in the next couple of days and tell me what you think. I’m not getting the custom I expected and I can’t work out why.”


Filtered or Machine?

Pour hot water into your filter (just off the boil to avoid a bitter flavour)

Pour hot water into your filter (just off the boil to avoid a bitter flavour)

Espresso?  Capuccino?  What would you like?

Espresso? Capuccino? What would you like?

colours-of-coffee-flash-fiction-drama-response-to-a-challenge-from-chris-mills

Dave & his Cane

Charlie’s old mate agreed to come along; two days later he entered, sat himself down at one of the window tables and rested his walking cane against the windowsill.

It was a cane of unusual hue, made of willow, unpolished and with a slight bend from Dave’s constant weight. Now and then, he fed it with linseed oil which gave it a sheen but allowed it to absorb its surroundings. A cane which sucked in the atmosphere, the sights and smells, life itself. It was Dave’s constant companion, his main-stay and it told him much.

“Well?” asked Charlie after a couple of customers had gone. “What do you think?”

“I’ll come back tomorrow, Charlie. When my old cane’s taken me home and we’ve had a chance to mull it all over.”

“Ok”, Charlie smiled. He knew he had to humour Dave who often talked to his beloved stick. There was no rushing him and he wouldn’t dream of it.


Dave's Solution

At the end of the week Dave appeared at Charlie’s door and sat himself down by the window once more.

“How’s it going, Dave?” Charlie was pleased to see a friendly face after only a scattering of customers. He took the chair opposite.

“Fine, just fine. Think I’ve found your answer but you’re not going to like it.”

Charlie frowned and, elbows on table, waited for Dave to continue.

“My cane gave me the answer. There was something troubling me but I didn’t twig until I got home. Then he shouted at me as I shuffled past the hall stand where he sits by the door. Strange aromas hit me - touch of gas, hint of metal.”

He thrust the cane under Charlie’s nose. “You smell it?”

“My sense of smell disappeared years ago, Dave. Couldn’t smell an old trout if you hit me with it.”

“Fumes! That factory down the road, all those cars outside, the fumes come into your shop with every customer. They linger here and folks don’t like it.”

“But I can’t pick up this shop and take it elsewhere!” Charlie was despairing. “What can I do? I’ll go bust! I’ll lose everything!”

“Hang on a minute, me old mate. Calm down! You don’t have to go anywhere. My old cane here has the answer. You got a coffee shop, ain’t ya? You gotta tackle one smell with another. Remember that old coffee grinder’s you kept goin’ on about? Well….?”


Taste the Aroma, Catch the Coffee

http://www.coffeeroastersandcoffeegrinders.com

http://www.coffeeroastersandcoffeegrinders.com

Customers galore!

Charlie closed his coffee shop for one day to make a few alterations. He re-opened and was never short of trade again.

Go along to the High Street! The wafting aroma will take you there. You’ll see the coffee grinding machine in the window. Each time the door opens your very soul will be filled with the bitter tang of those wonderful grains. They devour, they envelop, they extinguish every polluted air bubble which dares to exist.

You’ll see Dave too, with his cane sitting by the window absorbing it all.

....................................................................................................................................


Do you Like a Challenge?

There are often challenges here on hubpages. Various types of prompts spark an idea and set us off down the writing track.

Do you respond to photos, to words, to phrases or maybe to objects? Any of those can be the basis for a story or a poem or a non-fiction article.

No matter what you think you can or cannot do, you'd be surprised where a challenge can lead. You can push your boundaries and flex your muscles. Be brave, journey, explore and expand your vocabulary, your imagination and your own phraseology. Make up your own idioms, your own similes, your own metaphors! Why keep to the norm?

Break free and see what happens! I dare you.


© 2015 Ann Carr

Comments

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on November 16, 2020:

Yes, I understand that. I used to teach English to foreign students, a huge challenge and very enjoyable. They taught me much too.

Ann

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on November 16, 2020:

For you it may be something concerning vocabulary; but for me' I have to expand and expand. English is second language. Thank you.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on November 16, 2020:

I've left you a comment on one of your hubs. Your writing is informative and interesting. Expansion of vocabulary is something I try to do all the time - great!

Ann

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on November 16, 2020:

In order to expand my vocabulary, I've collected 9 words from your article. Those words are not new to me; but to reafirm in my memory, I'll go through the dictionary too Thank you.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on November 16, 2020:

Thank you, Gyanendra! I'm honoured that I've inspired you and it's what I love to do.

Don't worry that it's a struggle at first! You will get the hang of it. I'll pop over to look at your hubs.

Thanks for the visit.

Ann

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on November 16, 2020:

I am a struggling hubber. I have made mistakes here. Therefore, I've just 3 articles. I've deleted 4th one. I'm editing my 5th one

But I've got to write ... edit edit......edit. Because you inspire me. Thank you

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 15, 2020:

Thank you Veda

Veda from Bangalore on July 15, 2020:

Great tips shared by HubPages.

Its awesome and refreshing to read such valuable post.

https://vedasyspro.com/ccna-training-in-bangalore....

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 17, 2020:

There are loads of challenges at HP, many of which I've taken up and even set some myself. It pushes our boundaries a bit doesn't it? It's a while since I did this one but it's one of my personal favourites as it was a totally different form of challenge.

Thanks for the visit and for your kind comment.

Ann

Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on April 17, 2020:

Great flash fiction :) I like challenges but have not tried any in awhile. They are so much fun :)

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on May 26, 2019:

Thanks, Doris! I like your final reference!

I loved writing this; as soon as I got the idea the rest followed. I've never forgotten going past that shop when I was little. I loved walking along that road just because of the aroma.

Good to see you - your visit, along with your comment, is much appreciated.

Ann

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on May 25, 2019:

Wonderful story, Ann. I think this challenge was issued before I met up with Chris on HP. If not, it was during my busy season when I was working. I love coffee and I love how you worked in the two old gentlemen, especially the one with the "smart" cane. I'm a little slow, so I had to read the ending twice before I figured it out. But then I realized, "of course!" I woke up and smelled the coffee.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 02, 2016:

Thanks Shyron!

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 02, 2016:

Thanks Randy, I appreciate that. I think I've deleted the right ones but you can tell me if not! It's good to know some look out for others.

Ann

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on September 01, 2016:

Ann, I received the e-mail and I do understand, it made perfect sense, thank you for the explanation I am so glad that is the was it is. This is a wonderful story, glade you took up the challenge.

Blessings and hugs dear friend.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on September 01, 2016:

Ann, I hesitate to mention this to you, but you have a couple of spammers in your last few comments. This can hurt you in several ways. You can delete this comment but I thought you needed to be aware of the possible harm.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 01, 2016:

Thanks for the return visit, Shyron!

By the way, I've replied to your email and I hope it makes sense!

Thanks for the friendship and support.

Ann

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on September 01, 2016:

Ann, I came back to share this again, I had forgotten about Chris's challenge and had to come back to read this again.

I love these challenges and this one is one of my favorites.

Blessings my friend

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 17, 2016:

Thanks Peg! I enjoyed writing this story and I'm so glad you liked it. Somehow the challenge inspired me, as did the smell of a coffee shop when I was a child.

Ann

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on June 13, 2016:

Your story was well-told and held my curiosity right up to the last word. I love the old man talking to his cane and mulling things over. I could almost smell the beans as they were ground. Great story.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 16, 2015:

Thanks, Nadine. Good to see you! It's good to use all the senses in writing too, I think. Not always easy but then something about coffee lends itself very easily doesn't it?!

I hope someone takes up my challenge to use some innovative language.

Thanks again for the visit. Hope your week is good.

Ann

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on September 16, 2015:

Wonderful story and a very good tip given at the end.Yes our five senses have to be positively triggered to make a success of any kind of business to do with food.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 11, 2015:

Thank you, Catherine. Yes, coffe is all pervading which is wonderful - as long as you like coffee! Good to see you today.

Ann

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on September 11, 2015:

A charming little story. Perhaps Charlie should hook it up to the door so whenever the door opens, the machine grinds and the aroma of coffee fills the air. Coffee is a good deodorizer.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 07, 2015:

Thanks, maj, for your comments. Glad the story engaged your attention. Yes, the smell of coffee appeals to many who don't actually like the taste - strange! I don't like tea and, sad to say, I don't like the smell either! Ah well....

Thank you for visiting today.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 07, 2015:

Thank you, Jo, for such kind words. I'm pleased you liked this and I appreciate you stopping by to read and comment. Great to see you.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 07, 2015:

Hi Will! Thank you so much. I don't think there are many who don't respond to the smell of fresh coffee - wonderful!

Glad you liked this. You are the master of story-telling so I'm flattered by your comment.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 07, 2015:

Hi Dolores! Thank you so much for your input. Glad you liked this and I appreciate your comments regarding the use of sensory elements. I just love the smell of coffee and that childhood memory has stayed with me since experiencing it.

Good to see you here.

Ann

travmaj from australia on September 06, 2015:

A most enjoyable read Ann and I was intrigued Charlie's coffee shop and what could be wrong. . I certainly couldn't work out the problem so the story kept my attention to the end.

Have to say I love the smell of coffee and would be happy to visit and let that aroma surround me - unfortunately I don't care for the taste!

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on September 06, 2015:

Ann, a thoroughly good read. I can still smell the aroma of roasted coffee beans wafting on the breeze. A masterful response to Chris' challenge, well done, but I expected no less. :)

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on September 04, 2015:

I really like this one, Ann! What a clever idea to work in his diminished sense of smell with the exhaust and then the tantalizing aroma freshly ground coffee!

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on September 04, 2015:

Hi Ann, I found this flash fiction piece on my feed. I love the sensory elements that you used to create an atmosphere. So often when people write, they neglect that one so important sense, smell. Happily, I read this while drinking my morning cup of coffee!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 04, 2015:

Theresa: Thank you for your lovely words to make me smile this morning. I'm pleased you enjoyed this. I had some trouble getting the proper link onto Chris' list but managed in the end! Hugs to you, my faithful friend.

Ann

Faith Reaper from southern USA on September 03, 2015:

Oh, Ann, I was there in the midst of the noise, sights and unforgettable aroma ...coffee! You certainly lived up to yet another challenge in your usual unique creative style that never disappoints. The cane with its own personality is what gave this write that extra special touch. I'm not sure why I missed one until now? I kept seeing your comments on others and I thought I need to click to see if you had taken a little time out from all of your travels and here it is! Always such a treat to read what your mind puts down on paper ...well computer. Blessings always, lovely one

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 03, 2015:

Thank you so much, Shyron, and thanks for sharing; that means a lot.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 03, 2015:

Hi, ps! Thank you for your kind comment; it's always good to know what effect stories have and if they've worked well so I'm happy this 'reeled you in'!

My best to you and yours too.

Ann

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on September 03, 2015:

Ann, this is a wonderful answer to the challenge by Chris Mills. I have to go read Chris’s hub.

Happily sharing

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on September 03, 2015:

Awesome story.... I HAD to read on...you hooked me and I reeled me in....so glad it ended well...I really do like happy endings..

Angels are on the way....ps

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 02, 2015:

Hi Mary! Thanks for your comment. Glad you enjoyed this; I had fun giving the cane a bit of character.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 02, 2015:

Thanks, Alicia. I'm glad you enjoyed this. I always love the challenges and this one had more restrictions, which is good.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 02, 2015:

Hi Ruby! Thank you for your comment. Glad you liked this.

Yes, it's a shame we can't define our appreciation like before although it can all be said in the comments I suppose. At least they've left the share button - for the moment!

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 02, 2015:

jay: 'custom'

Thank you for reading.

Ann

Mary Craig from New York on September 02, 2015:

A touch of fantasy or maybe whimsy that hooked us from word one! I knew somehow, the cane would help find the answer and it was certainly a surprising one.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 01, 2015:

This is a lovely story that is very enjoyable, Ann. It's a great response to the challenge.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on September 01, 2015:

I loved your intro. ' Noise owned this town. ' Very detailed and written well. I love the aroma of grinding coffee. You met the challenge with an exceptional hub. I wish I could vote this up, alas!

jay on September 01, 2015:

in the sub section A haven amongst Industry last pagraph did you mean custom or customers

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 01, 2015:

Thanks, Flourish. Yes, the senses bring back all sorts of memories; I find that fascinating. Music and smells do that for me.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 01, 2015:

Thanks, Dora. Yes, wise old friends are invaluable, especially ones with wise old canes!

Ann :)

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 01, 2015:

Venkatachari M: Thank you so much. Glad you can smell the coffee; I'm happy to have made it happen!

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 01, 2015:

Thank you so much, bill. I'm always happy when I receive a wonderful comment from you because I know you say what you think!

I'm also happy that the fun comes through. And a 'brilliant' to finish with - wow, I'm smiling and will be all evening, bill!

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Ann :)

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 01, 2015:

Very nice contribution to the challenge. People are certainly led by their senses.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 01, 2015:

Interesting story, Ann. A simple solution which would really not be simple if were not for the insight of a wise, old friend. Everybody needs one.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on September 01, 2015:

Wonderful story. I can smell the aroma of coffee from here through your descriptions. Great crafting.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 01, 2015:

What a wonderful depiction of a bustling city...what a fun tale told. You really are such a fine writer. I can picture you sitting and smiling as you weave your tale. Well done, my friend. Simply brilliant!

bill

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 01, 2015:

David Roy: Thank you for the comment. I appreciate you reading.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 01, 2015:

FatBoyThin: Thank you for your kind comment. I had fun making the cane have its own character and I'm pleased you picked up on that. Thanks for visiting.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 01, 2015:

Wow, Chris! Thank you for your wonderful comment. Your appraisal and praise means a lot to me and I'm pleased my story panned out as it did, kind of on its own. That sentence you mentioned was added in the last draft and now I'm really pleased that it was!

Thanks for the challenge. As I've mentioned below, smelling the coffee in the street was a childhood experience of my own, so you brought back that memory.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 01, 2015:

Thanks, Jackie. Glad you enjoyed this; I appreciate your support and the compliment.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 01, 2015:

Thanks, John. I'm so glad you liked this. I enjoyed writing it as it brought back my own childhood memories and I still love coffee, the smell and the taste!

I appreciate your kind comments and your support. Great to see you today.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 01, 2015:

mckbirdbks: Yes I did have fun with this. I based it on my own childhood experience when out with my mother; we often passed a coffee grinder's in Brighton and I've never forgotten the smell!

Yes, I'm using the share button a lot more. Thanks for the visit and kind comment.

Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 01, 2015:

Thanks, Randy. Glad you liked this. Yes, I too love the variety these challenges create. Such is the human mind!

I appreciate you reading and commenting.

Ann

David Roy on September 01, 2015:

Nice Article ... The coffee shop was teeming - with coffee but not with people. http://www.trainingbangalore.in/android-training-i...

Colin Garrow from Inverbervie, Scotland on August 31, 2015:

Great story, Ann, and I love having the walking stick as a character. Good one.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on August 31, 2015:

Ann, You began this wonderful story perfectly with a memorable phrase that summed up the theme and the problem. Your backstory took a backseat until you had hooked us in two short paragraphs. I wanted to know how he would get the coffee shop teeming with coffee AND with people. You told a story all your own that was warm and touching but rooted in the hard reality of starting a business. Phrases like this are what writing fiction is all about: "Noise owned this town, fresh air avoided it; the traffic hooted, swished and belched." I could hear it, see it, smell it, and in the end, when the coffee was brewed, I could taste it. Well done, Ann.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on August 31, 2015:

Very enjoyable; as your writing always is. A great challenge and you certainly met it.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on August 31, 2015:

Ann, this was a very engaging tale with a satisfying outcome. Great response to the challenge. Very descriptive, I can smell the coffee wafting along the high street.Well done.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on August 31, 2015:

Hello Ann, what a nice story and nice presentation to the challenges. I sensed you had fun with the writing. No bumbs along the way. No buttons to vote with, so I suspect we are being guided to share more helping traffic.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on August 31, 2015:

Very nice, Ann. :) Amazing how so many different yarns explode from merely two prompts. Glad you responded to the challenge.

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