Tuesday 12 December 2023

Coffee Crunch, A Short Story by David Marchant

    While digging though an old file looking for something else, I came upon this short story I had written, probably back in the late 1980’s.   I enjoyed reading it again and hope that you will too.

    12:25, no wonder she was drawn to the vending machine.  She put two quarters into the slot and pulled the knob under the Coffee Crunch bar.  This initiated a series of rumblings deep within the machine that continued until the Coffee Crunch bar clunked to a stop, against the lip of the pick-up tray.  As she picked up the bar and put it into her purse, she became suddenly aware of how tired she was, being on her feet.

    She was enjoying herself though.  It was nice to be shopping in the city; she felt independent and free.  Although she still hadn’t found the shoes she wanted, she was sure that the day would end in triumph.  She had been in and out of stores all morning, and now she decided that that she deserved a rest, so she headed for the department store cafeteria, where she could get off of her feet and leisurely eat her Coffee Crunch bar with a cup of coffee.

    The cafeteria was crowded with shoppers, but she was soon through the line with a cup of steaming coffee on her tray.  She found a small vacant table in the corner of the room, carefully put down her tray, removed her coat, and sat down, relishing the pleasure that it gave her.  As she rested, she enjoyed watching the people, and from that vantage point she would be able to observe all of the “city types” as she indulged herself with her leisurely snack.

    Before she began, she had to make sure everything was right; she carefully centered her spoon on the napkin, slid the napkin, cup and saucer, and other items into a pleasing spacial relationship on her tray, then maneuvered the tray, so that its edge was parallel to the stainless steel edge of the table.  She painstakingly opened the envelope of sugar and slowly poured it into the steaming dark brown liquid.  

    She was enjoying the spiral patterns of foam she had made on the surface with her spoon, when she was interrupted by a male figure, standing with a tray, who suddenly appeared in front of her table.  He politely asked if the seat across from her was taken.  She didn’t want any company, but had been caught off guard, and tersely replied, “No”.

    As he sat down, he bumped the table, causing a small amount of her coffee to spill over the rim of her cup, run down its side, and circle around its bottom.  Then he slid his tray across the top of the table toward her, until its edge made contact with the edge of her tray.

    She was irritated.  As she hastily placed a napkin in her saucer to soak up the spilt coffee, she wondered, “Why did this ‘person’ have to sit down at her table and why did he slide his tray over until it was touching hers?  Was he some kind of pervert?”  She decided that the best course of action would be merely to ignore his existence, so she kept her eyes lowered; refusing to look this intruder in the face.

    She sipped her coffee, set it down, and became suddenly unsettled upon discovering that her Coffee Crisp bar was not on her tray.  Avoiding the stranger’s eyes, she looked up just in time to see him decapitate the end of the Coffee Crisp bar with his glistening incisors.  Cooly, he lowered the bar, laying it down across the top edge of his tray.

    She decided that she was not going to be pushed around by this pushy male.  Her gender was no longer going to be passive in the face of masculine aggressiveness.  She calmly and deliberately reached forward, stretching her hand beyond the boundary of her tray’s edge.  Her deft fingers delicately lifted the Coffee Crunch bar from his tray.  She locked her eyes unabashedly to his as she slowly tore back the wrapping, exposing more of the bar.  She put the end of it into her mouth,  and bit it off with a snap.  She then lowered the newly regained trophy to her tray.

    She was both surprised and pleased with her nervy show of strength toward this brash city intruder.  As she inwardly smiled and took a triumphant swallow fo hot coffee, the hand of the offensive male, violated the air space over her tray.  The Coffee Crunch bar was snatched from its resting space, more of its wrapping was torn away, and again the stranger’s incisors slowly crushed their way through the alternating layers of chocolate and wafer, bisecting  the already halved bar.

    Her eyes darted upward and came to a stop on the dark eyes across the table.  Those dark eyes sparkled with gloat as the lips above the offending incisors, turned upward in a slight smile.  The remaining section of the now nearly disrobed bar was laid, once again, upon the foreign tray.

    Again, she resolved not to submit to hooliganism.   Again, she reached beyond the boundaries of her own tray.  Again, she glared as she rescued the Coffee Crunch bar from his tray.  Her eyes were steel as she slid this final remnant of chocolate from its wrapping and into her mouth.

    Her glare continued until the last bittersweet segment had melted between her tongue and the roof of her mouth.  She slowly ran her tongue between the front of of her teeth and her closed lips, savoring the last lingering traces of the chocolaty sweetness.  Then, proudly and carefully, she laid the empty candy wrapper blatantly across the top of her tray.

    Without saying a word, the man rose from his chair, picked up his tray, and left the table--She had won.  She had shown this city weirdo that she was one woman who refused to be messed with.  Strange how these “crazies” always seemed to accumulate in the city.

    Having won the battle, she now watched the defeated.   He returned to the food counter, picked up something on a small plate, topped up his coffee, and paid the cashier.    This time he approached a petite young woman sitting alone near the entrance.  He sat down at her table and took a drink of his coffee.

    “That creep is at it again.” she thought to herself.

    She finished her coffee, got up from her table, and returned her tray to the counter, triumphantly tossing the candy wrapper into the trash.   As she headed for the entrance, she noticed the sweet roll that sat untouched on the man’s plate.  

    She slowly approached, stopped beside him, reached down, picked up the virgin sweet roll, raised it to her mouth, and took from it a huge bite.  She then returned the violated sweet roll to his plate, licked the sweetness from the tips of her fingers, turned, and triumphantly walked from the cafeteria.  

    This victory at the department store cafeteria was undoubtedly the high point of her day of shopping in the city.  The low point of the day came an hour later upon opening her purse and discovering within it, her Coffee Crunch bar.


View my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca

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