Hurrah! Faber Academy’s #quickfic competition has been reinstated after presumably being extremely naughty. This gives me the perfect opportunity to either:
- Hone my writing skills with a fun little diversion or,
- Spend hours crafting something pointless that I’ll then spend more hours wondering why it didn’t win or come second and then spend more hours questioning whether it’s all a big fix and why on Earth do I bother.
I actually got an email from them specifically telling me that they’d brought the competition back. For a few minutes I swanned around the house assuming they’d plucked me from a list of people who write amazingly. They were probably emailing a select shortlist of writers like Hilary Mantel, Donna Tartt, Barbara Kingsolver and me, just so they would get some really good entries for the re-inaugural bout.
So, with a spring in my pen, I set about writing my entry based on this prompt:
“I can tell that you’re looking.” He says. Apart from the scar he is handsome.
I look away and mumble an apology.
“No, it’s fine.” He says. “It’s more me than me.”
He bangs the black-handled chrome thingy against the tray, trying to loosen the coffee grounds and I frown.
“What do you mean?” I ask. I think he wants me to ask but I still feel awkward. And I never feel awkward.
He releases steam, taps dials and pulls levers, working the complicated machine like a train driver.
“If it wasn’t for my scar, I wouldn’t be here.” And he grins. “I’d be normal, like you.”
Without meaning to, I look down at myself, at my tailored suit, my shiny black shoes. At my leather litigation case which must have cost more than he earns in a month.
“Really?” I say. My confidence has returned. Now I realise his coffee making has made him bitter. He must try this routine on every successful man in his queue.
He nods. “Do you want chocolate sprinkles?” There is no disdain in his eyes even though I search for it.
“Just the coffee.”
He pops the plastic top onto my cup and slides it onto the round shelf in front of me.
As I walk away, I see the next customer staring at his scar. She’s a young pretty girl. I guess she’s a student. He’s already smiling.
“I can tell that you’re looking.” He says.
I’ve decided that it, rather than I, didn’t win. The real winners are here.
You’re probably not wondering how I picked the literary luminaries who were emailed by the Faber Academy earlier. Some of the more cynical amongst you might think that I chose all these marvellous women in an effort to appear feminist and cool. The truth is simpler. Those were the authors on the closest shelf to my desk. I will let you decide how cool that makes me…