Refuse to be Passive

This Is Life — Part 1

In Life in General on March 9, 2012 at 8:29 am

Note: In an effort to get back into writing again I’ll be making a series of posts cumulating in a short story. It will be partial fiction, partial reality. Names will be changed as no character will be completely accurate to any originals they may be based on.


She steps through the old wooden front door of the brownstone and breathes in deeply. She pulls the brass doorknob and the door’s glass rattles in its pane as the latch clicks shut. Immediately she feels better. The sun is shining, the air is crisp, and a chorus of birds are chirping from the tree tops. It never ceases to amaze her how simply leaving the house can improve her mood. She crosses the road and starts heading down the alley that separates her from her local coffee shop, an alley that is a mosaic of patched potholes and speed bumps. Although its march she scuffs her shoes through the remainder of yellowed leaves left by autumn that winter has failed to demolish. As she walks she reflects on the number of dogs that seem to live in her neighbourhood. For every person walking on their own, there seems to be two or three walking a wide variety of breeds, from Labradoodles to Bulldogs. She smiles at a gentleman with a poodle who passes her. “Good morning,” she greets him.

“Morning.” He reciprocates her smile.  It’s nothing big but in this city, it’s something. Although she’s only lived in Toronto for nine months, she’s noticed it to be a cold and hard city, where people avert their eyes when you pass rather than meeting and greeting. After taking specific notice of that, she’d begun to make a concerted effort to greet passing strangers with a smile. Sometimes her smiles are returned, other times, she’s greeted with looks of confusion or distrust.  She mulls it over as she continues to pace toward her morning caffeine fix and the muffin that will compliment it.

She approaches The Abbott, the local hole-in-the-wall neighbourhood coffee shop. The Franciscan has good espresso and lovely moist muffins and scones, but it’s really the ambience and staff that keep her coming back.  Just a few blocks away there is another coffee shop with truly excellent espresso and muffins that are things of neighbourhood legend, but she still prefers The Abbott, for its atmosphere, bright décor, and lack of pretention.

As soon as she enters she’s greeted with a cheerful “good morning” from Rita, the local owner, who treats you like an old friend, even if you’re coming in for the first time. The atmosphere manages to be a good mix of rustic and hipster, but unlike so many coffee shops popping up in Toronto, it rejects the dark wood, dark walls, and dark paints. Instead, the vintage brick walls are covered in a calm cream, the original red brick making its appearance underneath in a way that enhances the shops vintage feel. The cream tin roof, tile honeycomb black and cream flooring, and rustic tables, combined with classy, simplistic light fixtures make it feel like the type of place she could just sit and stay all day, typing on her laptop, reading her book, and sipping on Americanos.

She grabs a seat at the communal table and brings out her laptop, allowing it to boot up while she waits for Rita to clear the order of four drinks she’s currently working on. The door opens and two more customers walk in. Rita glances at the newcomers and then to her and says, “Do you know what you want? If you’re waiting for a lull it might be a while, so I can get your order started for you.”

“Sure. I’ll have an Americano and one of those lovely looking muffins.”

“Single or double on the Americano?” Rita asks.

“Single is fine. And what kind of muffins do you have this morning?”

“We’ve got pumpkin, blueberry, cranberry, banana chocolate chip, and a blueberry bran.”

“Well, how about I go for the blueberry bran? At least I can pretend it’s healthy that way.”

Rita smiles. “If it makes a difference, they’re made with honey rather than regular sugar.”

“Sure. We’ll give it bonus marks for that.”

Rita makes up the Americano and the muffin. “There you are Aurora.”

“Thank you.” She picks up her Americano and muffin and heads back over to the corner of the communal table containing her laptop. She sips the Americano and it burns her tongue. “Fool me once.” She thinks to herself. “But it sure tastes good.” She rips off part of the muffin top and tastes it. Moist, but not too sweet. Lovely.

She sits and stares at her laptop screen for only moments before her fingers begin to move across the keyboard. She starts writing a new short story. It’s about the hundredth short story she’s started writing, but she hasn’t finished more than a handful. Maybe this time will be different. No, not maybe, this time it will be different. This time, she’s doing what L.M. Montgomery has Gill suggest to Anne in Anne of Green Gables, “Write about what you know.” This is what she knows. This is life.



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