Coffee Morning with the Girls

I’ve been in Coffee Cup Cake for an hour, listening to them babbling on about their success as Internet influencers, the perils of public transport for mothers with buggies on their way to drop of their little darlings at the childminder’s, and date nights with their partners, “thank God for babysitters and grandparents!” Not one of them has asked how I’m getting on with my strict diabetic diet (they didn’t even consider that when they chose the venue – a coffee and cake morning isn’t really my cup of tea) or how I manage to get around now, apart from fussing over Molly, my seeing-eye dog, who they’ve been secretly feeding under the table. I know because I can feel her strain on her harness when she’s offered a morsel. They’re not even bothered that I had to take a day out of my annual leave to meet up with them. The bank is very strict about taking days off, and they’ve been so good about me injecting my insulin during working hours, allowing Molly to sleep under my desk, and providing me with an assistant. I should have invited her to come along. She’s more like family than my parents; they haven’t bothered to visit me in months.

I shouldn’t complain. It’s been three years since we last got together and none of them were around when I first lost my sight. We were in our mid-twenties then, they were all getting married, full of plans for the future, ready to start families, while I was spending all my free time at the gym, and weekends and holidays climbing mountains and having adventures. Now I’m twenty-nine, my only family is Molly, and I struggle with unfamiliar places, especially stairs and escalators.

What’s that? They want me to settle an argument about breastfeeding! What do I know about that? Jan wants to bottle feed her daughter after only three months, while Sophie insists on feeding her son until he’s three. How does that work on days out or when you’re visiting friends? And what’s wrong with Molly. I can hear her panting under the table. Oh know, she’s going to be sick. Have they been feeding her chocolate cake?

Kim M. Russell, 19th July 2020

aerial photography of cafe latte on table
Image by Nathan Dumlao found on Unsplash

 For Poets and Storytellers United Writers’ Pantry

I wrote this in another e-mail workshop organised by a member of staff from the Norfolk Library and Information Services.

Each participant wrote a sentence or two on character, setting and conflict, which were then sent by email, separated, and mixed up. We then each received a setting/character/conflict combination, which did not include any of our own ideas.

Mine were:

Character: The lady in question is now blind due to diabetes. She used to be a gym addict and rock climber. She is 29 years old and works in a bank in a boring environment.

Scene: Sitting in a fashionable coffee shop meeting up with old school friends after three years apart discussing life, the world, the universe and their part in the future. The realisation that the others have all followed their own paths into jobs, marriage and children and have no interest beyond those subjects, that she no longer belongs to this place or this circle of old friends. Even her family have become strangers.

Conflict: Character is being actively pressured by two opposing sides and must choose which to support. They have loyalties with both. If they don’t make a decision soon, it will be too late and the consequences for their family could be dire.

We then wrote stories from these combinations. I pared mine down to 369 words for today’s Writers’ Pantry.

51 thoughts on “Coffee Morning with the Girls

  1. This is poignant – but even more, you captured the acute sense of the speaker’s loss. Her world is now so different from her friends’. Their selfishness is annoying- and it makes me want to read more.
    Hope they twisted their ankles on the way home….and they better not have made Molly ill! Bravo, Kim!! I love a story that gets me going! 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is richly woven, Kim! 💝 I admire the intricate details about the character meeting up with her friends and the inner conflict she faces while with them. You portray beautifully the dilemma of getting along with others and of living in modern-day society 💝

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Namy. I’ve been trying out fist-person prose recently. I’m glad you like it. I’m hoping to develop it into a longer story at some point.


  3. So beautifully written but clearly her friends are more blind than she is and are completely oblivious to her life and needs. Do write more of her so that she find other friends that do understand her point of view.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I just laughed, in a slightly hysterical way. No, I don’t find the situation funny at all. But if you change blindness for Crohn’s and cancer and replace insulin injections for protein infusions and so on… I could so be your main character. The conversation going on in her head is one I know too well. But she is a lot nicer than I am, or perhaps more patient. Most friends aren’t great at adjusting to extreme life changes that don’t affect them directly. And sadly, the same is true for parents.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You took the thin threads supplied and wove them into a tapestry of humor emotion, bringing the narrator to life for us such that we felt her pain and disassociation with her friends of long ago, with whom she now has nothing in common and who seem inordinately shallow anyway. Brilliant writing, Kim.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very well written story I really got drawn in. I found the story very relatable as this is very modern way of living and caring. The difference between the situation and life style is palpable and you can easily sympathise with the main character. Would love to read more

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a situation that resonates, over and over- people can be so full of themselves and their lives that they even forget to ask if you’re doing fine. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reality is filled with the self involved. The oblivion to the needs or even the ability to ask a simple “How are you doing?l” is so painfully common these days. You have written a powerful piece. Amazing writing!

    Liked by 1 person

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