Cafe Exercise – Same Space, Different Planets


His eyes tell the story his mouth can’t find the courage to speak. His gaze is fixed on her face, her eyes don’t see him. He laughs a bit too much at a joke she tells, stopping only when he realises the others have moved the conversation onto something new. He blushes at his self-perceived faux pas, alone in his unnoticed embarrassment. He plays with the ties on his hood, still oblivious to the topic of discussion, avoiding the eyes which aren’t looking at him. His attention shifts when she laughs and he doesn’t know why. He follows her gave to the other boy across the table. The other boy, who is taller and more tanned than him. The other boy who tells another joke and she laughs and he hate the other boy. He resents the other boys wit and the way the other boy makers her laugh. He tries to talk but she is speaking now so he sits mute. Frustrated. He no longer looks at her, now he focusses on the bottle in front of him. The bottle he can hold. The bottle he can touch. The bottle is on his lips when he wants. The bottle never yearns for the other boy. The bottle serves him as he wishes the illusion of her would serve him. She stands and he and the other boy copy. The other boy and her walk side by side laughing. He follows behind. In silence.


She sits down, the newspaper in front of her. She stares at the front page. Fixed on the picture of the latest fallen hero of the people, smiling from inside his incarceration. The smile more artificial than the photo in the reality it portrays. She shakes her head as she reads over the heading and brief paragraph. She opens the paper, then her hand moves the hair from her face back into it’s position behind her ear. She ignores page 2. To me that seems to be an unwritten law of the tabloid. Bury the boring stuff on page 2. People only ever glance there for the lottery results. Page 3 is adorned by a man accused of a vicious crime. Perhaps there’s merit in the sexist ways of others. A snapshot of some unrealistic beauty  instead of a portrait of the ugliness of the world. There’s no money in the middling of reality. Middling is mundane. Extremes sell. She doesn’t labour over the following pages, scanning only the articles with the most attention grabbing text. She reaches the showbiz pages. Here she lingers. Pausing over the pictures of our latest created icons. Some would sneer and decry this worship of exalted others, the deifying of unworthy mortals, but here is the escapism of, and antidote to, the struggle of her normal life all in two pages. In these sheets she can dream of a life she’s never known. She can identify with these stars who come to Earth to be spotted shopping in Top Shop and Tesco. Here she can indulge in secret delight at the public fall of an entertainment idol, showing that these immortals are as human as she is, showing that maybe it could be her. One day she could ascend. One day she could escape.


‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down’ but the message on her desktop has long since forgotten it’s inspirational purpose.. With a deep sigh, she returns tot he pile of notes on the table. She reads and rearranges them trying to find new meaning in the old quotes. Back to the laptop she surveys her work. She scrolls through the text, then stops to adjust the music being piped through her headphones. Something louder and more rhythmic, leads her thoughts forward. A quick intel update from the social networks, Facebook, all quiet on the friends front, no news from the Twitterati. Back to the battle at hand. A few buttons are pressed as words appear and disappear in front of her. Again the music has become unsuitable. She flicks through tracks randomly, hoping that the ghost in the machine will provide the missing piece, some lyrical inspiration to get this effort back on track. She removes the headphones after the clash of guitar and drum. Her ears filled now with the cacophony of raised voices. She tries to tune into a nearby conversation. Concentration lacking, she surrenders, pressing the quit option. Saving the small victories of the afternoon before putting a close to the battlefield. She suits up in coat and scarf before trudging off to fight the battle another day.


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