016 - Muted Words, Chapter 1

Ready for something else? This is chapter 1 of a fiction story I'm working on. The two main characters are Mara, an old lady, and Maud, a teenage girl. I'll be releasing a chapter every Monday. Any feedback on the story, or (ideas for) a cover picture send them to me.

Morning ritual

Every Monday you see her sitting in the cafe. She slowly drinks her coffee. Her eyes are closed when she drinks. A smile appears faintly at the corners of her eyes. Her hair is gray, falling softly around her ears, not touching her shoulders. She goes by the name of Mara, but most people don’t know that. 

The cafe is bustling with activity, but the lady is in her own world. No one drinks coffee anymore. Everyone orders chai lattes or curcuma-infused milk or herbal teas. Coffee was the drug of the past century. A symbol of oppression, slavery, colonialism. Just pure capitalistic stink. Society moved on from this. We are better now, say the youth, while slurping their sugar infested teas cultivated by some poor farmer in Brazil, with the mandatory drop of almond milk grown in California, where the shanty towns are regularly deprived of water in order to meet the artificially high demand of plant-based milk.

Outside the cafe the cars silently hover by. It's a busy morning, but not loud. The nightly scheduled rain cooled down the air and washed the thin film of dust off the manicured streets. The pavements have finally been taken out, liberating space for parking. A neat row of electric scooters line up in front of the cafe. Each personalized to the current preferences and styles of their owner.

At the counter, a small queue is forming behind a young woman with long brown hair, summer blue fingernails topped with glitter. Unaware of the angry stares behind her she continues her conversation  "You know, I'll go to the surgery tomorrow. All this stress from work has me reaching out for one too many chocolate-infused gluten free cookies. And my boyfriend, don't let me get started on him!" She tossed her hair, but before she could go on talking about him, the barista confirmed her order.

"Chai-latte with extra brown sugar. One chocolate-infused gluten free cookie. To go. €10,49."

She locked in the eyes of the smiling face to the left of her, her eyes lining up with the two red dots on the screen. The price flashed once, her account statement blinking at the top right corner. "Confirm" she voiced, her account statement updated, and a warning appeared. She sighed. Her drink budget nearly consumed and not even halfway through the month.

"Anyway", she turned back to the barista, "my dad set the budgets far too low. He’s so detached from reality, it’s not even funny. I'm gonna have a word with him". She threw the barista a kiss, who motionless swiveled his metallic face and robotic arm to the next client.

The lady at the front of the cafe is dipping her finger in the cinnamon-free milk foam. She takes no pleasure in those gimmicks that are supposed to enhance flavors but in truth distract from the core. Out of an old habit, when people used to man cafes and you could have a conversation with the barista, she carries her empty mug to the counter. The barista, confused about the appearance of a person with a mug who isn't standing in the line, takes 10 seconds to log an edge error case.

With the confidence of someone who has lived their life, the lady walks into the street whose pavement is no more, and strolls through the cars and electric scooters. A young lady who scoffs at her is greeted with the age-old gesture of "mind your own business".

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#fiction#muted words
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