Today, I am taking my first crack at short story, improv fiction. The prompt comes from Erin McCole Cupp’s blog and she has these every Wednesday. Hence the name Wild Card Wednesday. The prompt is:
In St. John Paul II’s teachings on the Theology of the Body, he points out four “originals”: Original Solitude, Original Unity, Original Nakedness, and then Original Sin. Your prompt today is to take one of those four Originals and spend ten minutes with it, creating a piece of fiction.
I’ll be honest, I hadn’t spent much time on Theology of the Body, so when I read the prompt I was nervous. But I really wanted to try. Like she said in her post
Don’t worry about playing by writing rules, because I don’t have any here, and if you’re looking for rules to follow on improv like this, you’re probably looking for an excuse to not write, in which case, try another hobby. Scrapbooking. Quilting. Swimming. Anything but this, because writing brings new meaning to the term “hot mess.”
So I went for a walk this morning and started asking myself some questions. The what if kind of questions, and I came home and started to write. I chose Original Nakedness, and was inspired by the ideal relationship, how it would start, how it could start if it happened today. With someone like me, and someone like Mike (my husband) in a coffee shop, where the barista is an old Spanish man who loves salsa and Mallorca sweet bread. Now all I ask is that you’re kind. This is a big deal for me. I’ve never written fiction before ever. Unless you count elementary school where I pretended to be a frog and wrote what that was like.
* * *
Writer’s block. Everyday it’s the same thing, I can’t get past the winking cursor on my screen. I want to write something beautiful, something inspired…
Adam never tires of his routine. Every morning at dawn, he walks past the familiar tree lined street, walks over the same cracks in the pavement and wonders if today will be different. If today, he’ll get past the writer’s block he’s been struggling with for days.
Adam hits the coffee shop early so there are no distractions. He smiles at the sound of the bell jangling as he opens the door and sees Felix behind the counter. Felix loves what he does and is always happy to see Adam. He loves the whirring sound of the espresso beans as they crunch into a powder, humming along to the salsa greats over an old radio.
“Morning, Felix” he said.
“Buenos dias, I’ve got your coffee coming right up. Just waiting for the milk to steam.”
“ What did you do to the place?” he said, squinting and leaning over the counter.
“You know, just changing things up, got some new promotional items in that I wanted to showcase. What do you think?” Felix said as he handed a steaming cup of café au lait toward Adam.
“I don’t know. I mean, it looks great Felix.” Adam said.
Adam was worried that Felix would ask how the writing was going and before he could make a hasty retreat to his favorite table in the corner, Felix was asking if he’d written anything. Of course he hadn’t. Felix could tell just in the quick, dejected look in Adam’s face that there was nothing new to share, and he gave him a Mallorca sweet bread to go with his coffee, hoping to cheer him up.
“What you need, is a woman! Someone to talk to, a muse!” Felix said.
Adam just gave a small grin and walked away, towards his cozy corner, opened his laptop and took a sip from the hot paper cup.
Same as always, another day, another blank page. Maybe Felix was right, maybe there was something to this muse thing. Adam would try anything at this point. Anything at all to get him writing and creating again.
That night, Adam couldn’t stop thinking about Felix’s comment. Felix’s happiness and music, the joy he found in steaming milk.
The next morning, Adam walked into the coffee shop and his cup was waiting for him, same as always. Felix had it ready because, as usual, he was re-arranging the mugs on the shelves and organizing the cream and sugar station.
As Adam opened his laptop, he began to type. The night before he wrote one line. One simple phrase that kept him up all night.
What is true love anyway? What does it look like?
It was more a question to himself than the beginning of a novel. The words echoed in his mind and sounded foreign, like the music Felix listened to, but Adam liked the sounds anyway. There was harmony in it, and a beat that he couldn’t ignore.
True love has to be elevated, it has to be more than a face and a body. True love is freedom with someone who doesn’t care if you haven’t written in days and are ashamed of it. True love is finding the beat in someone’s laughter and knowing the harmony needed to make it sing. You don’t know how you know, you just know. She is my friend, but not just any friend. She is someone who knows me better than myself. I can be real with her, I can share my fears and dreams and know that she has them too. There’s no rejection, there’s no judgment or fear of heartbreak.
Adam is typing away, and Felix can hear the keys. At just that moment, he hears the bells just over the front door of the shop. No one ever comes into the shop this early, so Adam’s head pops up over his laptop screen and he watches Felix greet a woman. She just smiles a breezy smile and walks toward the counter. Felix wipes one hand on his apron while using the back of the other to wipe his forehead. Adam is intrigued, and through his peripheral vision below his line of sight, he sees the blinking cursor and knows he has to get back to writing. He was really on to something there, he thought. But he couldn’t take his eyes off of her and he turned his ear to hear their conversation. Felix handed her the coffee and as she turned to make her way to a table, Adam noticed the care she took in how she held it. Even though the contents of the cup will soon be drained and it tossed away, she held it like it was the most important thing in the world.
To be held like that.
He slapped his laptop shut, and headed over to the counter to talk to Felix as she sat down.
“Um, Felix. Who is that? No one ever comes in here this early.” Adam said.
“Ahhh, yeah. She’s a writer too. She comes into the shop in the evenings. I thought you two could talk, you know, writer to writer and maybe get past some of that writer’s block you’ve been dealing with” as he poured another cup.
“Really? What does she write? How long has she been writing? What’s her name?” Adam rattled it off like a Christmas list.
Felix put the cup on the counter, having written her name on the cup before he even asked and nodded toward her table, pursing his lips in the direction he should go.
“Go on, talk to her. I have to set up some displays” Felix said.
Adam held the cup in his hands trying to imitate the way he saw her hold her cup just a few moments ago. Shaking his head to himself, he walked over.
“Hi, I know this is awkward. Felix said he thought we could help each other? I’m a writer.” Adam said, pointing to himself.
“I know, Felix told me. I am too. Is that cup for me?” She said.
“Um…yeah, sorry. It’s Eve right?” Adam set the cup down and extended his hand.
“Yes, I’m Eve. Nice to meet you, Adam. Thanks for the coffee. Have a seat. Tell me, what are you working on?” She smiled.
“Oh just a love story.” Adam looked down, a little embarrassed at what he just said. He thought he should have said something more witty, or funny, or anything else than what he just said.
“Really? Tell me about it, I’m writing one too.” She said.
Adam held up his finger saying “Let me get my stuff. I’ll be right back.” He tripped a little over the leg of the chair, and quickly regained his balance.
“Okay” She said through a genuine smile. “I’m not going anywhere. I have all this coffee” as she held up both cups slightly from the table and shrugged.
Felix pretended not to notice, but his eyebrow was raised and he looked hopeful. Hopeful that Adam had his muse and they would write and create together, as the music played.