A Writers Group Prompt – Cafe Review

Coffee Club.

When we arrive at the Coffee Club, I’m tired, overheated and sweaty from a particularly hard session with my rehab physio – never an enjoyable experience, today’s workout was made worse by summer heat and lack of air-con.

I’ve stolen hubby away from work to have a quick lunch break, but I can tell by the deep V of a frown line that he’s doing his multi-tasking worrier trick; thinking about projects to be finished, clients to be billed, and packages to be sent, even as he decides on a coffee. I send him to the balcony outside to find us a table, and peruse the cabinet of food.

There’s a trolley parked almost blocking the till, piled high with cardboard and a black bag of trash. I edge away from it, revolted mostly because I’m cranky and therefore prone to revolting.

The barista greets me, but I still haven’t decided what I want, so I don’t reply. Then it registers how rude I’m being, and I remember those good ol’ days when I worked in a cafe and customers ignored me. Good is definitely a euphemism. I try to make up for it by forcing myself to smile as I order, but the smile disappears when my card is declined.

Blushing redder than the raspberry-topped muffins that sit in front of the till, I realise I’m using the wrong card – hubby has the correct one, and now he’s nowhere to be seen. I try the trick of struggling small business owners worldwide, and whip out my phone to transfer money across accounts, but the bank isn’t playing ball today, and my card declines again.

The patient barista takes pity on me, and gently suggests I pay on the way out. She hands me a table number, and I scurry outside, embarrassed but grateful, and trying not to make eye contact with anyone.

I nearly fall over a vacuum cleaner that someone has left in an aisle, so when I make it to our table, I’m short-tempered indeed. But it doesn’t take the staff long to brew up our trim no-whip mocha frappes and heat a couple of muffins, so my grumpiness is quickly turned into delight. The drinks are perfect: sweet and creamy and oh-so-cool. The muffins, one orange poppy seed and one apple & cinnamon, are fresh and delicious. Hubby and I go halves on each, so as I enjoy the feel of poppy seeds popping between my teeth, he drools over the oat crumble that tops the other muffin.

A staff member seems to appear from nowhere, smiling and nodding politely at us as he moves the vacuum cleaner out of the way.

These franchised cafes can be a bit hit and miss, but Albany’s Coffee Club has definitely scored a hit today. When we leave, I’m happy and refreshed, and thank the servers as we leave.

Best of all, hubby picks up the tab.

Written 3 February 2017 for a Writers Group.

A Writers Group Prompt – Matariki + Horoscope

The Little Eyes See All.

Sometimes she thinks that the inevitable end of her union with her husband was heralded by the birth of their children. It was unavoidable that her attention, mental and physical, would be drawn to the care and raising of those helpless babies.

She knows that, and yet in her depths she mourns the loss of that intense connection shared only by the two of them. They had been each other’s entire world, and now the aching distance between them is breached only by the demands of their offspring.

She worries sometimes about her stormy middle child, who loudly and violently expresses his anger over the separation. Alone of his siblings, he is blind to the necessity and benefits of the divorcement. When he throws those fierce tantrums, she soothes him as only a mother can. She knows that he too mourns for those days of closeness. But the others, auē! His brothers and sisters rejoiced when their father finally took his leave, and frequently reassure their mother that it was for the best.

At night she still dreams of her husband’s embrace, and in the morning as she watches the sun rise into the sky, she wonders whether he too reminisces fondly. Sometimes, when it rains, she imagines him weeping for her, and it is a comfort of sorts.

But during the day she works as she always has, and cares for their tamariki as best she can. In truth, she openly cherishes her children as her greatest joy and it is in her hidden heart that she laments the changes they have wrought. And if she never mentions that part of the reason she takes such delight in her children is that they often remind her of their father, it is because that is a blessing she is happy to hold close.

Sometimes she thinks that her children know her secrets anyway, and then Papatūānuku does not attempt to conceal her sighs as she yearns for her husband’s warmth, and the earth heaves and strains to reach the sky.

Inspired primarily by Matariki – the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades which rise in mid-winter. Matariki literally means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki). According to myth, when Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, were separated by their children, the god of the winds, Tāwhirimātea, became so angry that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens.

Inspired also by a Scorpio horoscope which warned of an interfering third partner between two people who were unlucky in love.