Broken Cups And Awkward Poets: #FWF Freewrite

It was less than a second, maybe half a second, but it changed everything.

They both looked down at the shattered coffee cup and then back up and each other and then back down at the shards of white crockery. She felt her cheeks flame, aware that they were now turning a particular shade of red and there would be blotches on her cheekbones.

The spoken word poet in the corner coughed into his microphone, shuffled his papers and started again, his lines shaky as he tried to read from his sheets instead of looking at the pair of them standing in the puddle. He wasn’t very good. Every other line rhymed with some awkward, clunky phrase and Sarah felt like he was trying to voice her own words while her mouth moved uselessly. Pink lipstick sticking with each open and close.

‘I- I- I,’ stammered the poet. He coughed again and started on the next line down.

‘You- You- You-‘

Sarah spluttered something half like an apology, dropping as she spoke, hands spilling outwards like the drink had, searching for broken pieces.

There was a sting, short and sharp and when she pulled her thumb away from her mouth there was blood beading on the tip of it, a line of skin separated.

He crouched with her, both of them in awkward squats as he passed her a napkin and cleared the mess out from under her.

She said thank you, or at least she thought she said thank you, the words seemed wrong on her tongue like there were marbles rattling around against her teeth before falling out onto the floor.

He just nodded, like this happened every day for him, like it wasn’t strange to be a tiny cafe on a Saturday morning at nine am, listening to bad poetry and clearing up the broken mess from some random woman crashing into him.

He bought he another coffee and this time, he carried it to the table. The poet had finished his set, swinging two low bows at the audience before clattering off to his friends gathered in a gaggle by the door, their breath helping to fog up the windows and hide the grey skies outside.

‘Hartley,’ he introduced himself as, the man who bought her coffee, not the poet who was now out of the door and down the street, cigarette smoke still trailing through the door.

‘Sarah,’ she said and lifted her cup to her mouth, knocking her teeth against the rim. The coffee was hot and she flinched, splashing the table between them.

He smiled one of those kind smiles that reaches the eyes and left her feeling somwhat less like an idiot.

‘Sarah,’ she repeated, a little breathless. ‘It’s nice to finally meet you.’

fwfbadgenew

I wrote this piece last night before I went out with some friends so I’ve only just got around to posting it up now. Kellie Elmore’s Free Writes have no expiry on them so I encourage you all to check out her site and try your hand a quick free write. It’s a great way to get the creative juices flowing and you might be surprised by what you get back out of it.

Star Ship N2P7649

Port three was busted again, but instead of looking into the problem Sanuth was examining the hairy wart perched rather precariously on the very tip of the nose of a very generic ambassador from yet another trade federation who thought their backwater solar system entitled them to some sort of reverence.

‘Umhum,’ Sanuth nodded, eyes still fixed on the wart. It twitched any time the ambassador said a word beginning with s.

‘I really don’t understand the problem here,’ grumbled the envoy. He was tall and thin, except for his stomach which splurged out suddenly at the waist. That was as much as Sanuth had noticed before the wart. The wart was green and blotchy with three yellow hairs which curled into exactly four loops each. It looked a little like Sanuth’s Aunt Barbara.

‘I mean really,’ said the envoy, ‘anyone would think that Hemrath wished to shun our offer to open trade routes with them? You did explain to them who we were did you not?’

There was a pause and Sanuth realised he was supposed to be responding.

‘Uh?’ he hesitated and broke his staring contest with the ambassador’s wart. ‘Pardon?’

The Ambassador flushed orange around his gills and flared his nostrils.

‘The Councilers of Hemrath,’ he said. ‘You did tell them who you had been sent to represent did you not?’

‘Of course, of course,’ said Sanuth. He vaguely remembered ordering Captain Tust to Hemrath a month back on some sort of trade alliance thing, but that might have been with the Ramborn Alliance. Come to think of it, the nose-wart ambassador might have even been a member of the Ramborn alliance, he’d already forgotten the guy’s name.

‘Well you know the Hemrath,’ shrugged Sanuth. ‘They can be a prickly bunch at the best of times.’ He tapped at the hologram on his desktop and tried to flick aside a document on new steel infrastructures for endangered marshlands. The screen fizzed for a moment and then went black. Swearing, Sanuth punched it which made it flash green and then yellow, before going back to black. He looked up at the ambassador sitting on the opposite side of the desk.

‘You promised to convince them,’ gritted out the ambassador. ‘You gave us your word.’

‘I gave you my word to do all I could,’ corrected Sanuth. ‘In this case, all that I can do might not be enough. The last trade alliance that approached the Hemrath Council did attempt to threaten them with total extermination if their demands were not met.’

‘I am aware,’ said the ambassador. ‘But that alliance was not this alliance, and I really do think you could have tried a little harder to argue our case to them.’

Sanuth shook his head. The lighting in the office was low and according to the clock projecting onto the wall behind the ambassador’s head, his secretary would be there to start work any minute. He hadn’t even noticed the night arriving, never-mind dawn creep in. Not that dawn really has much impact on a intergalactic super-sub swimming around somewhere in the centre of the known universe.

He groaned and rubbed his knuckles into his eye sockets.

‘What would you like me to do?’ he asked, looking for a way to get the ambassador out of his office as quickly as possible.

‘Something more!’ replied the ambassador. ‘Order them, tax them, demand they meet with us and sign the treaty.’

‘I can’t,’ said Sanuth. ‘Hemrath is technically an independent planet and out of my jurisdiction. Any act of force on my part would be considered an act of war against all independent planets.’

‘You’re worried about a few bureaucrats?’ huffed the ambassador. ‘What will they do? Tell us off from their mighty government chambers on the other side of the universe.’

Sanuth didn’t mention the last commander who’d trod too close to independent soil and tried to swallow past the lump in his throat as he thought about the poor man’s head rolling down the steps of those same mighty, government chambers. The rules were clear, kicking off wars was not okay.

‘I’ll extend an invite for them to treat with you here,’ he suggested. ‘They might be more receptive to meet with you on neutral ground.’

The ambassador open his mouth and then paused, thinking about it. His mouth closed and he nodded.

‘As you suggest then, a meeting on neutral ground.’

Sanuth smiled stood from his chair and held out a hand for the ambassador to shake. He saw the wart twitch as the ambassador stood, shook his hand and then quickly wiped his fingers against the fabric of his robe.

‘I’ll wait to hear the time and exact location of this meeting from you,’ said the ambassador before turning to leave. ‘Make sure it is not too long of a wait. I have important matters back home to attend to.’

‘Of course,’ smiled Sanuth, his cheeks aching as he held it and watched the doors of his office snap shut behind the ambassador.

Looking down at the dead screen on his desk he yanked open the top drawer and pulled out a walkie-talkie with EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION DEVICE stamped on the side. Practically prehistoric but still functioning at least.

‘Tris?’ he called, holding down the little button and praying.

‘Yeah?’ crackled back a familiar voice. ‘Did you break your desk again?’

‘Maybe, I’ll talk to you about that later. I need you to do something for me. It’s that ambassador here about Hemrath.’

‘The one with the wart?’

‘That’s the one! Could you make it look like an accident?’

He heard her sigh rattle through the device.

‘Really, again?’

‘Well you’re the one always telling me that I should do more to prevent war and strife in our little corner of the universe.’

‘I meant donate to a charity or something. Not orchestrate assassinations.’

‘I don’t think he’s important enough for an assassination,’ shrugged Sanuth. ‘Tell you what, I’ll even make a donation to a wart based charity if it makes you happy.’

The walkie-talkie remained silent.

‘Tris?’

Sanuth shrugged again and chucked the thing back into his drawer.

‘Bloody ambassadors,’ he sighed. ‘Always drumming up trouble.’

Windows

‘When did you realise for you the first time that you weren’t immortal?’

The blonde’s face flashed into his mind and he thought about the way she’d spoken with a smile, showing off the bit of apple stuck in her teeth and the crooked incisor that he’d noticed her poking at with her tongue during their entire meal.

‘Pardon?’ he’d replied, staring at her over a forkful of salad. ‘What sort of question is that?’

She’d blushed and shrugged.

‘It’s just a first date sort of question,’ she’d said. ‘You know, a sort of tell me who you are type question.’

‘Oh,’ he’d said before eating his forkful of salad and forgetting about it all together.

Now, now he was thinking about it though. Or more accurately, about how he’d never assumed that he was immortal until the day he’d found out that he actually was and being immortal was nothing more than a massive ball ache for all those involved.

‘Here we go again,’ he sighed, gripping the window sill with both hands and heaving himself to his feet.

Eight floors down the gaggle of neatly dressed police officers leapt to attention, the one with the crackly microphone shouting something up in that calm, measure way that one speaks to an insane person.

‘Poor sap,’ Thomas thought. Groaning, he stretched upwards, popping the kink from his shoulders. With a final glance down he shoved his leg back inside and ducked his body beneath the sash window. He landed solidly, bouncing on the balls of his feet as he scanned over the living room and decided that yes, everything was most certainly being left behind and screw the price of furnishing from scratch, he’d earned more than enough over the years.

‘SIR! OPEN UP!’ The voice accompanied a series of heavy thuds which rattled the front door.

‘Great,’ Thomas muttered, straightening his tie and brushing off his sleeves. In three long strides he was stood in front of the door, handle in hand and face smoothed into what could be considered a welcoming expression.

‘Really,’ he said, swinging the door inwards, ‘can a man not enjoy his own window sill in peace these days.’

Just a random, quick free-write in response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Finite Creatures.”