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Thread: Well To Do People

  1. #1
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    Jan 2012

    Well To Do People

    She was the most hardworking person in the cafe. Every time I saw her on a shift she was efficient and worked the coffee machine as if she had built it. Her posture was strong: legs straight, shoulders back and neck to the ceiling. Negativity never seemed to be in her space.

    I sat at a table with my usual coffee, waffle and City AM newspaper. This was my morning ritual. The ritual became such a habit I contemplated once if I was becoming a boring hermit. But I realized I was one of those routine people where Virgo's use that as an excuse for not being fun.

    She was lovely. So small and perfect with her short brown hair, big brown eyes and no meat on those bones frame. At first I thought she came from France. Then I knew she did when she served me and spoke with a French accent.

    "Everything OK sir?" She said.
    "Yes thank you" I replied.

    Her smile replicated one from Hollywood and she walked off. Her smile was magnificent, it would brighten up anyone's day, the teeth immaculate. I had to be at work at nine and had an important day ahead. I was contempt with my life: a city guy who wore a suit and took a train to work everyday. I was on sixty thousand pounds a year, a Scottish man that had come to London in hope of achieving his dreams. My name was Charlie aged thirty, her name was Isabelle aged twenty two.

    Isabelle arrived at her one bedroom apartment in Elephant and Castle. She kicked off her flats and went to the kitchen to make tea. The place was decently new, no cracks were showing in any room and the decor had a rustic vibe. This was Isabelle's first time in London, she had finally decided to give living abroad a go. But it was a shame no-one told her Elephant and Castle was such a ghetto!

    Her laptop was open and linked to Skype. Isabelle came from a homely home, but she was the traveler of the family, the bad seed in their eyes. On the screen her mother and father appeared and they said hello (in French) and began speaking in French. Her parents missed Isabelle, they repeated the same thing like "we miss you, when are you coming home?" over again and the need to cling came through the screen. They deeply hated the fact Isabelle left France. Because they were a family with money they told Isabelle she could have had anything she wanted in France. However Isabelle had her own dreams.

    Soon enough Isabelle's brothers came onto her screen: Ivon and Ives. Their parents thought the letter "I" was lucky and gave their three children that initial. Ivon was the tall one and had a long beard (a phase he was going through) and Ives was the shorter one, more serious, organized and had his life well together. They said hello (in French) and spoke in French. Isabelle was the youngest sibling. She loved her brothers, their bright and happy faces made her happy. They had the same smile as hers and their thick French accents resembled a native never to have left their own country. They were her rocks. She spoke to her family near enough everyday. Even though she was the traveler, she never forgot her roots.

    Later that evening, Isabelle sent CV's to recruitment agencies, this was part of her routine. She was a qualified architect and sending CV's was mostly all she did when she was at home. She was in her bedroom, laying on the bed, the laptop in front of her. She had been in London for almost a year and had no luck with finding a job which matched her qualifications. But she was strong, however she couldn't continue to be unlucky, smart enough to know no-one was made of steel and eventually they will break. But still she was happy she had a job as a waitress. Initially when she came to England her goal was learn the language first. She had done that and was near enough fluent, now she needed a proper job.

    Maria owned the cafe. She was always their during service, usually in her chair behind the counter doing crosswords. She was Italian, well into her sixties and a person who didn't have much luck in life. When she came to London thirty years ago, she opened the cafe off the money her parents left her (they died in a car accent.) The cafe was her only joy. Her previous husband (a Chilean gangster) married her to stay in the country and then divorced her. Her second husband (a Russian magician) dumped her when her previous miscarriage stopped her from having more children. And now she was old, mournful and on the shelf. She had to live with the old decent men being taken and the ones who were left were either senile or not confident enough to ask a lady to a date.

    There was something about Isabelle though, Maria thought; the way she worked around the cafe, the way her English improved everyday and her high spirit and positive attitude. Maria took a break from her crossword to look at Isabelle making coffees. She saw a special creature that had a bright future. In the past it upset her that the young employees she hired never stayed longer than six months at the cafe, but Isabelle was different - she had been there for a year!

    I saw Isabelle working hard and focused behind the counter, cashing a customers order. She then picked up a ticket and walked towards me. I was single at the time, but I didn't want to ask Isabelle out because I didn't think it was fair to invade her life at that stage. She seemed like a lady just trying to make her way in a new country. She layed my coffee (skinny latte in a tall glass, had to be a tall glass, oh dear I am becoming a boring hermit!) and my waffle.

    At home, I lived in a one bedroom apartment in Bayswater. I had a mortgage on the place and was proud of it, as it took all of my twenties working as a city boy to get it. It was a perfect Victorian building. The window in the living room looked onto the front garden and the plants and the small lights which led up to the front door made the place feel like you were on holiday. It was a Wednesday and my usual routine was to make dinner and watch TV - very single life living. However Isabelle stayed in my mind, she was all I could think about and I wondered if I was falling in love. I went to the kitchen and opened a can of Heineken to get myself straight, but she wouldn't leave my head. And then I knew what I had to do.

    Isabelle caught me looking at her, I didn't want that to happen. She had a cute tight lipped smile and her eyes glowed. She was walking to me with my coffee and waffle. The tight lipped smile didn't leave her face, and she knew as I did, there was something happening under the surface between us. As she was about to leave my table, I said...

    "Isabelle." She turned to me with a mischievous face, expecting me to ask her out.
    "What are you skilled in?" I said.
    "I am a qualified architect" she replied.
    "Do you like working here?"
    "It's OK"
    "Take my card. I can get you into a really good office position if you like"

    I handed my card to her and she took it.

    "Thank you" She said.
    "You're welcome" I replied.

    She went back to work. I felt happy I tried to help her, and was all I wanted to do, to help her. She was a foreigner with irresistible qualities: hard working and well to do. In my opinion those people deserve good luck. It would have been great to see her out of the cafe and into a decent office job. Even though it wasn't architecture, it was a start. I decided my love life could be pushed aside for more important things, like seeing this flower blossom. Sometimes in life to get what you want you have to get what others want first.

    The next day Isabelle arrived half an hour before the cafe opened, she was proactive. She put her bag and things down in the staff room, put her apron on and looked in the mirror. She found my card in her pocket and remembered the offer I gave her. It stayed in her mind the previous night. However she wasn't convinced about something, it was a strange feeling directly in the center of her stomach and it annoyed her. Then Maria called her from the office.

    Maria sat in her chair with a brighter face than usual, which was rare. Isabelle thought Maria had met someone or had sex, jackpot! It turned out to be neither, but joy filled her eyes and it was all because of Isabelle.

    "I want to say I am very proud of you Isabelle, for being so loyal to me and this cafe. Usually when foreign people come to London, they just use my cafe as a place to pay their rent and learn English until they find something new. But you have stayed with me and have been the best worker I have ever employed." Maria said.
    "Thank you Maria" Isabelle replied.

    Every word came from Maria's heart. Isabelle new this and it felt good.

    "I am retiring and going back to Italy and I want you to be the part owner of this business. I trust you, I admire you and I know you will be good for the cafe's future."

    Isabelle was happy. Maria seemed so well, just the thought of going back to Italy made her excited. Her time was done in England, it was done and it was time to move on. Isabelle was flattered and knew how much trust Maria had in her and she wasn't going to let her down.

    "I will do it, I will look after your cafe" Isabelle said.

    They hugged. Isabelle thought about my offer with the office, but she knew the right decision was Maria's. She knew sometimes you have to do onto others they way you want others to do onto you, and now Maria needed her. So she was there for her.
    Last edited by Neilson Black; 01-22-2015 at 03:57 PM.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2014
    The beautiful story make you read it until the end, but I find you need more of the acts and actions .. .. especially for a surprise in the end.
    Thank you

    Do you please read my story?

  3. #3
    Registered User 108 fountains's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    Falls Church, Virginia
    Hi Neilson. Nice to see you back with another story. I almost missed this one as I've been a rare visitor to the Forum the last couple weeks. I enjoyed the story - there was not a lot happening in terms of plot, but enough to give a glimpse of the characters, which I think was your purpose. And all three of the characters were likable. The whole thing had a good feel to it.

    The only thing that I thought was out of place was the first person-narration. Actually, it went from first-person narration in the first six paragraphs to third-person narration to third-person narration in the next six, and then back to first-person and then back to third person again. While it's not wrong to do this, it felt not quite right. I think you easily solve the problem by simply putting the whole thing in the third person and making "Charlie" just another character (rather than a part-time narrator).

    A couple of more minor points: You explained that Isabelle is French, so there really is no need to stress the fact that she speaks to her parents and brothers in French - what else would you expect them to speak? The other thing is that in two or three places it looks like you ran spell check which gave you the wrong word. "I was contempt with my life." -- should be "content." "They died in a car accent." -- should be "accident." It's always good to read through everything a couple of times checking for these types of errors (and don't trust too much to spell check and grammar check t9o do that for you). Lastly, as omferas noted, a little more "tell" and a little less "show" would be helpful. (But compared to some of your previous stories, I think you are making good progress on this and improvements otherwise, as well.)

    Keep writing, and I'll keep enjoying and offering suggestions.
    A just conception of life is too large a thing to grasp during the short interval of passing through it.
    Thomas Hardy

  4. #4
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    Jan 2012
    Hi guys,

    Thank you for your comments. As always, I post my stories for feedback on how to get better as a writer.

    I do agree Omferas, there isn't actually much going on in each of the acts. The story could definitely do with more of the actions. I was experimenting with this story with the narration. I hadn't really tried the narration like this before, and that is why the narration could have gotten lost which touches on your point fountains.

    My partner said the same thing fountains about the "speaking in French" part. She said it wasn't necessary too, so point taken on board. And my grammar is a big weakness and it boils down to laziness, so another thing to work on.

    It is funny you guys touched on the golden trap of show don't tell. I have tried to show more in my writing rather than telling all the time, especially in my earlier posts. But maybe I have done too much the other way now! It is all trial and error. But I am glad you feel I am improving fountains, that is what I am on this site for. In the end I do love this story, it was supposed to be cute and have a good feel with nice, likeable characters.

    Keep commenting guys.

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