Day 8 of StoryADay May.
The Prompt: Write a story with a Cinderella story structure: try, fail, try, fail, try, fail, life-changing moment.
I roll over and have a stare-down with the clock. I blink before the numbers blink over. I lose.
5:32. In the awful early morning.
I am wide awake. I am antsy. I need… something.
I need to go back to sleep, but that is not happening. I am on. I know that I won’t shut down again until at least eleven tonight. Out of bed it is. I definitely lose.
Halfway to the door, I figure out what I need. I need coffee.
Kurt must hear the gentle slap of my bare feet hitting the wooden floor. He is in the kitchen when I get there.
“What are you doing up this early?”
“Couldn’t sleep. Might as well start the day, right?”
He doesn’t look like he is buying my peppiness. I’m not buying it, so why should he?
“I need coffee,” I say. I pull a mug down from the cabinet. My favorite mug. Plain white on the outside. It looks boring, innocent. But when you tip the mug and look inside ‘You’ve been poisoned’ is scrawled in black across the bottom of the mug. I smile at the end of every cup.
“You don’t drink coffee,” Kurt says. “Only tea.”
He’s right. I have never had coffee. I drink tea. Black tea, green tea, herbal tea, it doesn’t matter what kind, I’ll drink it.
But today I need coffee.
“I know. But today I want coffee.”
“I didn’t make any this morning. I’m having a breakfast meeting with Jared. I was just going to have coffee then.”
I sigh. It figures. On the morning I want it, he doesn’t make it. “I’ll make it,” I say.
I move across the kitchen to the coffee maker. In the cabinet above, I find filters and coffee. I feel Kurt’s eyes on my back as I put a filter in the basket and scoop in some grounds.
“That’s probably too much,” he offers. He must immediately turn and leave the room. I hear the heavy soles of his brown dressy shoes clip down the hall.
“That’s not too much,” I mumble under my breath. I pull the carafe free from the coffee maker and step toward the sink. The glass carafe slips from my hand and falls to the floor, missing my toes by an inch. Of course it shatters. Why wouldn’t it?
“Dammit!” I yell.
“You okay?” Kurt calls. I don’t hear his feet move. He wants me to say yes, that everything is fine, under control. He wants to move on with his day.
I give him what he wants.
“I’m fine,” I call back. I stay frozen in place until I hear the front door open and close.
I am surrounded by chunks and shards of glittering broken glass. My feet are bare. I hate the sight of blood.
I lean along the counter, stretch my arm as far as I can. I manage to snag the edge of the towel hanging from the front of the stove between two of my fingers and pull it to me. I fold it in half and bunch the ends in my hand. I bend to the floor and use my make-shift broom to clear a path to the door.
I walk back to the bedroom and get dressed. Jacket, keys, purse, and I am out the door. Kurt can deal with the glass when he gets home.
I need coffee.
I drive only four blocks before I park my car and get out. This is the largest shopping center in my small town. A string of ten whole stores linked together. Parking for about a hundred cars. It’s massive. For here.
I walk toward the shop on the end of the string. ‘Two Brews’ blinks in blue neon in the front window. I feel like there is a story behind the name, one I’ve heard before, one I should know. It’s a tiny town. I’ve heard all the stories, right?
Right now I don’t care about the name. I only care that this is the only coffee shop in town. At the door, I slip my hand around the wooden door handle and pull. Instead of swinging open, the door pulls me forward. I stop just short of thunking my head on the slab of wood. That’s when I notice the sign hanging directly in front of my face. ‘Closed for remodeling. Grand reopening May 29th.’ Today is May 27th.
“Shit.” I turn and look out at the parking lot. My car looks lonely, sad. There are no other cars at this end of the lot. At the far end is a cluster of four cars. Even my car seems to not belong.
This morning is so off that I can’t even remember the other nine stores in this strip. So I walk. I look. I am hoping to find coffee.
At the farthest end, close to the cluster of cars I find what I need.
‘Titus Travel. When you just need to get away from it all.’
I forget about coffee and open the door.