The Coffee Shop


The doctor’s words  slid across his mind, played with his future and settled on the hand in front of him. His hand. “Three months at most”. The words were not ambiguous. He had a period of mobility, and armed with pain killers could cling to normal routine for a while longer.  Routine, which had been his most loyal companion. His order in an uncertain world: the habits between him and a  fear of the chaos somewhere beyond the horizon.

Eighty- three years old and not much to show. A couple of children. Lovely in their own way but gradually estranged by his lack of  circumstance.  Somewhere in later middle age he had lost his way. He now  assumed the air of nonchalance so essential to survival in an urban landscape. His career was distinguished by a lack of progress.  His character by a failure to grasp the importance of the everyday. To make a  sandwich taste like a banquet was his lasting talent

Like some insect  in the desert he had become adept at whittling out nourishment and emotion from the bleakest scene. Making a feast from a titbit. Treasuring a passing view, but his time was mainly spent in solitude with music as his companion. Friendships cost money, and that was in short supply. “Not to worry”, he thought, “I’ve got  memories”. And so he had. Journeys abroad filled with adventure. Parties where common sense had left the room. Meetings with minds who touched base with life’s eternal questions. Women who moved him with a tender curiosity. Who enjoyed ,with him, moments of suspended reality among the coffee cups, the tousled sheets and the bric a brac of a careless life. In turn, they left him for more certain landscapes, but  without rancour. They had their needs, and he could not fill them.

By and large the place he sat in was full of known and unknown faces typical of a tourist venue. The rusty stalwarts like himself. Same table. Same coffee and a newspaper sat among the passing tourists who talked more loudly than the locals: excited by their new adventures.

Chance and coincidence were all that refreshed him, and there she was, a visitor from another land, another time and just across the shop. He remembered their conversations, lying there in bed. Her red hair, now grey, spilled out across the pillow. “You love life don’t you. You drink it up” . Her words had never left him. “It’s all I have” he replied  and they had laughed.  Now here she was, forty years on and sitting with a family, settled with her grandchildren and the picture of ordered and polite common sense. Across the room their eyes met and hers were warm: familiar but final . A nod is all it takes to share a history. He had three months but now he knew that part of him would live on in others . In their memories. Perhaps that was the right place for him.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Life, Love, old age, Relationships, Romance, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

75 Responses to The Coffee Shop

  1. This is lovely. Poignant – and some of his thoughts and actions echo mine (not that I’m a 73 year old man!). ‘You love life don’t you. You drink it up.’ Beautiful.

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  2. Thank you for your lovely comment.. I’m not 73 years old either but I have the same relationship with his thoughts and actions

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  3. Damyanti says:

    Sounds like the beginning of a wonderful short story. I love the sentence you start it with.

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  4. Ina says:

    “A nod is all it takes to share a history. ” I nod to that.

    This story tells of what is important. Wonderful.

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  5. Brilliant capturing of how easy it is to lose the plot. But he realises in the end, just in time, that the important thing is to have left a mark, to have touched other lives so that something remains after death. Not immortality, but a gradual fading.

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  6. aawwa says:

    A lovely tale! Very thoughtful and poignant.

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  7. I love all of this. I want more, but then I can be greedy 🙂

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  8. Absolutely delightful; thank you 🙂

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  9. Jane says:

    This is a gorgeous piece of work. I am sure some is autobiographical, but I hope not the 3 months.
    Jane

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  10. 1WriteWay says:

    This is a very moving post. I love how you say so much with so few words. This line in particular struck me: “Like some insect in the desert he had become adept at whittling out nourishment and emotion from the bleakest scene.” That one line speaks volumes about this man. Good work, you 😉

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  11. I love the way you ‘settle into’ your characters…it is so deliciously human and your writing style is incredibly lovely 🙂
    Your writing brings me much joy and reflection…

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  12. erickeys says:

    Once again, very impressive. The “familiar but final” nod… That is what did it for me. The fact that he was able to read such importance and weight into such a gesture….I’m sort of tempted to wonder if the narrator is grasping at straws but part of me also wonders if it matters.

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  13. I’m guessing this story is very much a part of many a man’s journey, kind of like a nested commonality in the blended layers of many a life. I agree with the others, it is well on it’s way to being a very fine short story, perhaps even a novel?

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  14. Reblogged this on lawrence grodecki and commented:
    This is simply a wonderful story worth spreading.

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  15. risinghawk says:

    Wonderful story, beautifully written. Thanks for sharing it! Peace . . .

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  16. gotham girl says:

    Wonderful story and I’m sure so many of us can relate to bits and pieces. So Beautiful.

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  17. Yet again your writing touches me. Thank you Counting Ducks 🙂

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  18. JP McLean says:

    You have a wonderful way with words – not a wasted one.

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  19. barbara says:

    This one really painted a picture, Peter. You create a scene along with the story. I love that. Quite a talent! And, thank you so much for your sweet comment. I so appreciate it.
    b

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  20. Lafemmeroar says:

    You are a wonderful writer! Boy I’ve missed reading “You.”

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  21. Ditto Lafemmeroar! I must not be away from reading here so long… Such insightful works, Peter. Both holy and wholly human in my opinion. Loving the deep. Loving the love. A rare glimpse inside another human sojourn yet again. Fine work.

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  22. nelle says:

    Memories are a wondrous thing, tying past to present. We learn our lessons and sometimes repeat it if missed on the first go round. They compartmentalise love with things we wish to avoid. They are us.
    As always a nice read and human perspective.

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  23. Chris Edgar says:

    Very evocative passage, I think. I can relate to being able to draw a lot of the nectar out of life without doing much, and the fear of “ending up like” this character has motivated me to compulsively work on occasion, though perhaps my ability to savor life is itself to be, well, savored.

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  24. Writerlious says:

    I absolutely adore the line: “A nod is all it takes to share a history.”

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  25. sharipratt says:

    That after 40 years he would remember a red-haired woman and she would remember him – an imprint after all. He is more special than he first realized. The story is wistful and poignant.

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  26. You have such a facility with words. I especially love the line “parties where common sense left the room.” What a perfect expression.

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  27. desertrose7 says:

    You really are a very talented writer. Such an easy style, yet the words are so cleverly weaved.
    I don’t know anything about you and yet you have been kindly commenting on the sillyness going on in my blog. Reading this I feel like such a…..novice, a child…just a blithering blogger.
    It inspires me. I wish I could write something with such depth.
    May I ask, have you written books? Had books published? Forgive my ignorance if this detail is somewhere on your blog.

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  28. kate4samh says:

    You’re not bad, you.

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  29. **A nod is all it takes to share a history.**

    I have witnessed that nod.

    Peter, you have so much inside, which flows out with great substance, depth, & beauty.

    PS. I need your address, please. xx

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  30. loved the quote about drinking up life!

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  31. Brilliant work! Powerful write. Thank you!

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  32. Purely.. Kay says:

    I don’t think I need to tell you how much you inspire me. And now you are inspiring many more people :). Amazing writings.

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  33. Sally says:

    Your story left me with a wonderful feeling – finding the happiness in the saddest moment is a great skill. Feeling that we have made an impression on others is something that we can all identify with. Well done. I look forward to reading more of your work.

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  34. Alex Autin says:

    Beautifully written, and completely readable. Your stories always seem to say so much in so few words. Perfect.

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  35. Caroline says:

    Beautiful. Heart warming and poignant. It brought a tear.

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  36. araneus1 says:

    I loved it.
    Others have quoted my favourite lines but what I liked most was the feeling you conveyed.
    Relaxed, resigned? Not sure how to describe it but I felt it.
    Well done.
    Terry

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  37. Caroline says:

    Parties where common sense had left the room

    Says it all!!

    xx

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  38. You have managed not just write a “character” but to breath life into a real person. This story reads true and that is a beautiful thing. 🙂

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  39. ‘A nod is all it takes to share a history. He had three months but now he knew that part of him would live on in others . In their memories. Perhaps that was the right place for him.’

    Oh, such a moving, affecting story … had goosebumps and the sensation of tears at those last lines. Just lovely … I have to repeat these words again: ‘A nod is all it takes to share a history.’

    You are a master at writing these vignettes!

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  40. I really, really liked this, especially paragraphs 2 and 3. You have some great imagery and similes 🙂

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  41. Laxmi says:

    I have no words to describe the beauty of the story.

    Like

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