Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not; practising flash fiction.

Posts Tagged ‘coffee

#FridayFictioneers – 19/5/17 – Fixtures and Fittings

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Every Wednesday Rochelle Wisoff-Fields publishes a photo prompt to inspire writers to write 100-words of flash fiction or poetry.

At any point during the following week, the Friday Fictioneers post their 100-word tales. Read the other stories by clicking below.

As usual, it took a while for any ideas to form, and then I came up with the below. Is this a story? Perhaps more of a vingette. Does it work? Let me know.

Thanks to Rochelle for hosting and Roger Butolt for this week’s photo.

© Roger Butolt


Fixtures and Fittings

(Genre: general fiction; 100-words)

‘Why do we always come here?’

‘It’s where we had our first date.’

‘And our last.’

‘They know us.’

‘We love the food.’

‘They leave us alone and don’t mind us poring over paperwork.’

‘And the coffee’s good.’

‘And the coffee’s good!’

‘We should try somewhere else.’

‘It wouldn’t be as comfortable.’

‘Which is why we should make the effort.’


‘You’re too non-committal.’

‘You’re too rigid.’

‘Here we go.’

‘And that’s another thing going for his place; they don’t mind our arguments.’

‘There’s something I need to say.’

‘Me too.’

‘I don’t want us to get divorced.’

‘Me either.’



Written by Sarah Ann

May 19, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Two for Tuesday #25 – April-Mae Joon

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I’ve gone a little off-piste with Andy’s Two for Tuesday Challenge again this week. I read the prompt early enough, just couldn’t see how to work the prompts, until this happened.


Standard Prompt:
house blend

You have lots of creative leeway. The limit is 200 words. The words can be used:

  • simply as a point of inspiration and do not have to be used directly
  • they can be included exactly as provided
  • or each word can be used independently of each other (for example if Death Row was the prompt instead of crafting a story about an inmate on the way to the gallows, you might write something like: Despite feeling like death from an excess of cheap vodka consumed the night before, Evelyn moved on to planting her next row of spinach).

Non-Standard Prompt:
For this week’s alternative prompt write a story about a girl who has been cruelly named April-Mae Joon. As per usual with the Non-Standard Prompt there is no word limit (to allow for more in depth explorations) but there is a minimum of 200 words.


April-Mae Joon (~800 words)

John and Will, feet on desks, flicking through piles of A4 job applications.

Will: Who on earth calls their child April-Mae Joon?

John: Someone with a sense of humour? I had an auntie May. I even knew a June. But April-Mae Joon? That’s pushing it.

Will: It’s child abuse.

John: Yep, but it’s fun too.

Will: You try living with it.

John: What? You think toting around the moniker John Lennon isn’t enough of a handicap? What’s she coming in for anyway?

Will: The research assistant’s job.

John: She any good?

Will: We won’t know until we interview her. That is sort of the point of this morning.

John: Oh yeah. Sorry, I was just thinking I might find it hard not to laugh.

Will: At what?

John: Her. When she says, “Hi. I’m April-Mae Joon,” I might not be able to hold back.

Will: It’s time to grow a pair, John Lennon.


Interview room. John and Will casual behind a desk. April-Mae Joon straight-backed, legs crossed, immaculate, appraising them.

Will: Good morning, Miss. Joon and thank you for coming to see us. We’ve been through your application and I’d like to ask about –

John: How do you cope?

April-Mae: I’m sorry?

John: No, I’m sorry. Shit, I didn’t mean. What I meant to say was, what should we call you?

April-Mae: April-Mae?

John: You don’t find it difficult?

April-Mae: Do you want to ask when I plan to have children now or later?

Will: Miss. Joon, April-Mae, you know we wouldn’t, couldn’t ask such questions.

April-Mae: Yes, and they are about as relevant to my ability to do my job as my name.

Will: Exactly. Please excuse my colleague. He’s over zealous.

April-Mae: Or maybe a little jealous. Walking round with his name can’t be fun.

John: Hey –

April-Mae: You started it.

Will: She’s right, John. You did sort of walk into that one.

John: Fine. Can we all agree we have bastards for parents and move on?

April-Mae: Sure.

Will: Thank you. Now, April-Mae, instead of a standard question and answer session, we’d like you to role-play a situation where –

April-Mae: Do you want me to dance too?

Will: I beg your pardon.

April –Mae: Dance. Apparently it’s all the rage. Terribly relevant for how well I can hunt out facts, identify discrepancies in data, précis and write copy. I suppose the role-play helps me demonstrate those skills.

Will: (Coughs.) Well, how would you suggest we continue?

April-Mae: Why not set me a task? Ask me a question? Give me a time limit and see how fully I can answer.

John: That’s a very good idea. Only –

April-Mae: I’ve got all day. Maybe you could think about it over coffee and get back to me.

Will: If you’d excuse us for one minute.


John and Will in a corridor.

Will: This is not going well.

John: It is for her.

Will: What are we going to do?

John: Come up with a question for her to investigate, sit her in front of a computer, give her half an hour, and see what she comes up with.

Will: You mean let her hijack this interview.

John: I think I managed to blow any credibility it might have had at the outset.

Will: Be that as it may, I don’t think –

John: Let’s embrace this opportunity. We’ve been bogged down long enough trying to discover whether there’s a genetic link between stammering and dyslexia. Let’s put her to the task. See what research papers she comes up with, what hypotheses she suggests. It can’t do any harm.

Will: I need coffee.

John: So will she. And somehow, I don’t think house blend’s quite her cup of chai. I’ll get the double espressos from round the corner. You set Miss. Joon up with a terminal. We see what happens.

Will: And the other candidates?

John: We do the same.

Will: But how will we choose between them?

John: You fancied Miss. Joon for the job from the start. That’s why she was the first we saw. You never change your habits, Will. Favourite always goes first, the chaff get compared to him or her. Unless someone shines a little brighter, candidate one wins.

Will: Do I do that?

John: Always.

Will: How does that help?

John: Unless anyone produces a superior document to Miss. Joon, she gets the job.

Will: How will we know?

John: For pity’s sake, Will. Who needs to grow a pair now? How many research proposals have you read in your life? You’ll know. Besides, Miss. Joon has fought through life thus far carrying her name. She knows what she wants and how to get it. Look at the jelly you’ve turned in to. Be careful or she’ll be after your job next.

Will: Point taken. One more thing, John, would you mind telling her while I get the coffees?




Written by Sarah Ann

September 17, 2013 at 9:41 am

Two for Tuesday #4 – Road Trip

with 3 comments

I think I like rules as have tried to write within both of Andy Black’s Two for Tuesday Challenge stipulations again this week.


Standard prompt:
razor thin

Non-Standard Prompt:
This week for the alternative prompt, I am providing you with a scenario.  Write a story about a man and woman on a road trip. He uses the men’s room while she fills the car with gas. When he comes out, she and the car are gone. As per usual with the Non-standard prompt there is no word limit but there is a minimum of 200 words.



Road Trip (299 words)

Gemma was heading south with Rick, back to her grandmother’s old haunts. It was a pilgrimage for both of them in different ways. Gemma wanted to see the house her childhood dreams were built on, the home where her mother was born, the kitchen where her grandmother had created the world’s best gumbo, jambalaya and onion soup. Rick wanted to be swallowed up by the sounds of Decatur Street.

Although their reasons for travelling were different, Gemma had thought they’d been going together.

‘I might stay on after you go home,’ Rick had said the previous evening.

‘You want to wait to see that band next Thursday?’

‘No, I mean I might stay. Get a job.’

She hadn’t replied, didn’t know what to say, couldn’t believe what she’d heard. She hadn’t slept. Rick hadn’t taken the words back. Breakfast that morning had been quiet.

It was approaching lunchtime and she felt her demeanour wearing razor thin. She needed coffee and apple pie. Maybe pecan? Something sweet to smooth over the mountain range in her stomach.

‘We need gas,’ she said, and began to pull over before Rick could object.

Gemma ate pie and drank two coffees. Rick fiddled with the straw in his soda.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said, as Gemma drained her second cup. ‘I should have said something before.’

‘It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. Let’s get back on the road.’

As usual, when it was time to fill the car, Rick disappeared to the bathroom. If only he’d made the effort then. If only he’d offered to pay his share that once then Gemma might not have left him standing on the forecourt. The shock on his face in the rear-view mirror as he barged through the swing doors was enough to sustain her to journey’s end.


Written by Sarah Ann

April 20, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words, Take Two

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I’m very late posting this, as it was last week’s WordPress Daily Post Writing Challenge, but I love this picture and my character has inveigled his way in, so I had no choice . He wanted his story told, so here it is.


Couple Embracing

Photo courtesy of Cheri Lucas


Ernesto struggled up the hill laden with shopping, a bag in either hand. As the tram clattered past, Anna nudged him.

‘See,’ she said, ‘we could be sitting on that relaxing. We’d be at the top of the hill in minutes.’

‘Pah,’ was his only reply as he hefted the bags and soldiered on.

His voiced insouciance belied the mood of his body. Arthritis was tearing through his rusty joints. In an ideal world a surgeon would open him up, sandblast back to smooth bone, smear everything with oil, and sew him up. But Ernesto didn’t live in an ideal world; he lived in a stubborn one. He was determined that he would do this walk until it killed him. Never would he give in to travel perched on his backside or holding on to a pole. Inside the devilish tram he would miss the warmth of the sun on his skin, the one thing that soothed his pain. And today was such a day: the sun was high and bright making everything around him shine.

As Ernesto reached the halfway point, he was looking forward to reaching to top of the street, to turning left and descending slowly to their apartment. He would soon be home sipping espresso and dunking cantuccini on the balcony. Anna had bought the chocolate ones again. He preferred the nut ones, but they had started to present too much of a challenge to his teeth. He’d just have to get used to the sweeter taste.

The buildings either side of the road provided shelter from the sun’s glare. He paused, stood back to let others pass, then leant against a wall. The bags in his hands were leaden weights pulling on his shoulders. He wanted to throw them away, throw off the blanket of age and pain that smothered him, held him down, interfered with his every move. He took a moment to look around, glared at the back of the trundling tram and shook his head. Not today. Never.

The sun glinted off nearby windows and drew his eye. The surrounding buildings reminded him of his childhood home. His and Anna’s place was newer; brick instead of stone; light and well insulated. Home. He was nearly there.

He pushed away from the wall, set his shoulders and made to carry on. As he did so, he noticed a couple embracing on the opposite side of the road. The young man reminded him of Peter, his son. Ernesto shivered with recognition. No, not Peter. It was himself that Ernesto saw in the young man. He shrugged, to clear his mind of these odd thoughts, and walked on.

Anna was a few steps in front of him. Soon she would stop to look back, to see where he was. She would chide him for his slowness. ‘Just like when we were at school,’ she’d say. ‘Why go anywhere faster than a snail?’

Back then it was because he’d wanted to spend every moment he could with her. He still did, but his body occasionally let him down. And Anna put up with it, waited and coaxed. She waited for him in the bedroom, just as she waited for him in the street. His beloved Anna put up with so much. She could do this walk in half the time – slim and lithe as she still was. Even now she was carrying two bags of vegetables while he had the half-empty cereal boxes and loo rolls – bulky but light. His Anna: she was so caring, so generous.

Ernesto glanced back across the street. The boy might be like him but the girl looked nothing like Anna. Ahead of him, Ernesto could still see Anna’s young body beneath her clothes, beyond the white hair and sun-loving face. Anna hadn’t gained weight and turned into her mother.  Thank God. Her shapely legs and round bum had survived the onslaught of age because of her walking everywhere. If they had to go further afield, they got a taxi.

The canoodling couple were like him and Anna thirty years ago. Okay, fifty. God, was it that long since he and Anna had kissed on the street? They still held hands in public, when they weren’t carrying shopping and his claws were free enough to entwine his fingers with hers. Was it better to be young and in love, or old and in love? He was grateful and lucky to be able to say he was still in love. His desire for Anna had never faltered. He still enjoyed that overwhelming warmth and comfort of tangling his limbs with hers. And he was lucky that Anna hadn’t exploited the weak friends of his who had come calling. Ernesto could never have blamed her if she had played with any of them. They were out to woo her, continuously teasing and cajoling, but she always rebuffed. Ernesto had never felt good enough for her. He was a failed man who hauled only failed friends behind him.

As Ernesto reached the top of the hill, the young couple skipped past him. ‘That’s something I don’t miss,’ he chuckled to himself. To his mind, skipping didn’t suit anybody over the age of 11.

He thought of all young lovers, oblivious as they were to the world around them. That was another downside that came with age, awareness of others, responsibility for children, caring for parents, and then the fear of being a burden to following generations.

Ernesto made the turn and started his descent. Anna stood waiting for him, hands on hips, smiling. Was that encouragement or exasperation playing over her lips?

‘I’m coming, I’m coming,’ he muttered.

He took a last glance at the skipping couple, and wished them the love he had known and continued to feel.  The anticipated taste of bitter coffee and sweet biscuits was already tickling across his tongue.




Written by Sarah Ann

February 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm

#FridayFictioneers – 28/12/12 – The Sunny Café

with 32 comments

Every Wednesday Rochelle Wisoff-Fields publishes a photo to stimulate and inspire writers to write 100-words of flash fiction or poetry. Every Friday the Friday Fictioneers post their 100-word stories.

Visit Rochelle’s site for the rules on how to join in and check out the other stories here.


I think my story’s a bit lame this week, but I wanted to include reference to the beautiful stained glass prompt. Go on, tell me how to make it better.


Copyright Jean L. Hays

Copyright Jean L. Hays


The Sunny Café (100 words)

He was late. Again.

Chin resting in the cup of her hand, she looked out. Each pane framed a miserable picture – the street devoid of walkers; trees without leaves driven away by bitter winds. Customers left the dry cleaners squeezing tickets of hope between gloved fingers, each needing to win the lottery of repairable holiday accidents. Icy tendrils spread through her heart.

Only the shop sign displayed any warmth: a gleaming, beaming sun. As she examined it, a smile forced its way onto her lips.

Okay, so she could wait another half hour. She ordered coffee and imagined his excuses.

Written by Sarah Ann

December 28, 2012 at 7:33 pm

It’s a good job no one reads this blog

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I was so confused in June that I got my weeks mixed up and references to Glastonbury were premature. Added to that, my chronology of non-writing excuses is a little awry and it would probably have been easier to pick numbers out of the air.

I did eventually free my characters yesterday, but it did take a little while to pry myself away from self-aggrandising. I drafted a couple of pieces for this blog, finally managed to collate the (limited) info for my publications page, and tided up wayward files and folders on my laptop before finally settling to work. When I did open the relevant folder I was horrified to see it was over a month since I had spent any time with my characters. No wonder they’ve fallen out with me. I had to read through chapter 7 to work out where the characters had got to, and where they needed to go next. Normally I’m able to resist editing as I go, but this was such a dire string of words that I had to do some re-ordering and lots of cutting. First sentences can be so wordy. And then I reached the point where previously I had cut and pasted, where the real work was needed to make a coherent scene. And then the friends coming down river to meet us arrived and the power ran out.

Living on a boat means we have to generate our own power. Over the previous two weeks of cloud and rain the (12v) batteries had been bubbling along at a low voltage, but yesterday morning the sun was out and there should have been amps flooding from our solar panels. It was early and we were in shade but, when he went to have a look, hubby discovered that, possibly during the building of the wheelhouse, one set of panels had become disconnected – no good for the panels or the batteries. No good for me as using the inverter (converts 12v to 240v) to charge the laptop would take even more power from the boat batteries and they take priority. Instead of charging the laptop I relied on an undercharged battery that slowly gave up the ghost as my poor brain looked at all the words I had cobbled together and decided that running away to re-charge itself with coffee was a better idea. Much coffee later it was time for a barbeque and then it rained again, but at least chapter 7 was waiting in a more manageable form for me to go back to.

Written by Sarah Ann

July 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm

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