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Ethan
August 1st, 2014, 12:07 PM
approx. 750 words

I watched her in bored detachment, she sat in the window of the café from where she could see the street outside. Her demeanour was one of waiting, waiting for a friend, a business acquaintance, a lover? I sipped my coffee, too hot to gulp, as I gazed around at the other customers. Two middle aged ladies deep in conversation, both talking over each other neither hearing what the other had to say. One business type, blue suit and matching tie, probably off the peg judging by the poor quality of material, was reading the Daily mail. He read the sports pages first, which took him out of serious management criteria.

Behind him were two teenagers, one busily texting, while the other, sitting opposite, tried to read the literary masterpiece upside down. I looked back at the girl in the window and decided she was not waiting for her boyfriend. No makeup, hair whilst not untidy, wasn’t how it should be for someone wanting to impress. Again she glanced expectantly up and down the street.

The waitress approached her table and lifting the girl’s empty cup, raised her eyebrows in query, to which the girl responded with a nod and another quick look up the street.
Yes… definitely waiting for someone.
People watching is not a hobby of mine, but lately i have found myself, on too many occasions,guiltily indulging in this rewarding pastime. For an amateur I quite pride myself on my intuitive skill, still, I have been wrong on occasion and with that thought I lifted my cup and turned again toward my quarry.

She fumbled in her handbag, a shapeless multi coloured woollen sack really, probably knitted by her favourite aunt. Still, it is in keeping with her dress sense, red duffle coat, navy blue woollen dress, and black woollen tights. As I noticed her footwear a smile creased my lips. My best guess is that they were Laplander boots; you know the kind of thing, all mocassiny with brightly coloured embroidery and fur lining leaking around the edges. On the seat beside her lay a red woollen cap, the type with earflaps and string tie, and just to finish the ensemble, a bobble on the top. Probably the ‘ in’ student trend, or the latest ‘twenty something's’ must have. A student or an office junior, I ventured, maybe work experience in a solicitor's office, or a bank. Tidy and trendy without the obligatory blouse and pencil skirt uniformity of the city type.

I sipped my coffee.

The waitress, divorced mother of two, abusive husband, bored with her job, life in general ,and just going through the motions of a grey existence, returned with her order and set it on the table without raising her head, yet another trick of the waitresses trade. I watched her disappear back into the kitchens, again avoiding unnecessary eye contact with any of the customers.

The girl stared hard into her coffee cup, her handbag clutched tightly on her lap, a casual interview, or the end of a relationship perhaps? Whatever she was waiting for was not something she was looking forward to. Another glance outside but this time she stiffened and quickly lowered her head as a couple, giggling and pushing each other playfully entered the café.

He was thirty five to forty years old, well dressed in an office manager sort of way, dark grey suit and flamboyant tie, hair greying at the temples. The office Lothario was my first impression, probably has a pretty but boring wife, two kids at college and enough money and time to fool around a little. His companion was a different matter. Tall and elegant, wearing a stunning red dress that highlighted her lustrous blonde hair, which she tossed with the assurance only truly beautiful women can.
Her bright red lipstick, shiny and moist, accentuated her pouting lips as she blew him a playful kiss; in return the man playfully patted her pert bottom.
His smile quickly died as he turned toward the window.

I too turned to look at my quarry, standing now, gripping her knitted bag tightly to her chest. Staring directly at the man, her eyes fixed and hard with rage.

She stepped forward, ignoring the table as the contents spilled noisily onto the floor. The sudden crash drew every eye in the café as the girl uttered the only words ever spoken by one of my projects that truly shocked me.
‘Mom, how could you?’

Apex
August 6th, 2014, 04:02 PM
I'm from the old school of writing. I believe a well written story is both show, and tell. I think you may have a story here, but it lacks show.

Ethan
August 6th, 2014, 05:04 PM
hEY Apex,
mmmm, of course you're right. I just hadn't looked at it from there. It is a failing of mine,because when someone points it out it becomes glaringly obvious. I'll give it a revamp and post again.
Thanks for that.
D

ranjit23das
August 8th, 2014, 05:25 PM
Hi there

I liked your passage. It was interesting and I read to the end to find out what happened. Unlike Ethan I think you did a good job of 'showing' and not 'telling':

"The girl stared hard into her coffee cup, her handbag clutched tightly on her lap"
- good bit of showing

"Another glance outside but this time she stiffened and quickly lowered her head as a couple, giggling and pushing each other playfully entered the café."
- good bit of showing.



A couple of times I felt the sentence and para construction could be different.

"I watched her in bored detachment, she sat in the window of the café from where she could see the street outside. "
- Could have been better as two sentences.

"For an amateur I quite pride myself on my intuitive skill, still, I have been wrong on occasion and with that thought I lifted my cup and turned again toward my quarry."
- Could be better as 'For an amateur I quite pride myself on my intuitive skill. Still I ...

"She fumbled in her handbag, a shapeless multi coloured woollen sack really, probably knitted by her favourite aunt. Still, it is in keeping with her dress sense, red duffle coat, navy blue woollen dress, and black woollen tights. As I noticed her footwear a smile creased my lips. My best guess is that they were Laplander boots; you know the kind of thing, all mocassiny with brightly coloured embroidery and fur lining leaking around the edges. On the seat beside her lay a red woollen cap, the type with earflaps and string tie, and just to finish the ensemble, a bobble on the top. Probably the ‘ in’ student trend, or the latest ‘twenty something's’ must have. A student or an office junior, I ventured, maybe work experience in a solicitor's office, or a bank. Tidy and trendy without the obligatory blouse and pencil skirt uniformity of the city type."
- This para could have been shorter, not sure so much description was needed.

"The waitress, divorced mother of two, abusive husband, bored with her job, life in general ,and just going through the motions of a grey existence, returned with her order and set it on the table without raising her head, yet another trick of the waitresses trade."
- Clumsy sentence, better broken up into several sentences.

"Tall and elegant, wearing a stunning red dress"
- not sure someone so posh would be coming to a common caff?

"I too turned to look at my quarry"
- Quarry does not feel right. The writer is not hunting her.

Ethan
August 11th, 2014, 11:35 AM
Hey Ranjit23das,
Thanks for the time and read. Your critique was pretty useful too. It definitely needs a tighten up.

escorial
August 11th, 2014, 12:13 PM
never felt like a piece of fiction to me...i liked it because it felt real and the observations were varied...when i read.."divorced mother of two"...only then did i think this is fiction..liked

InstituteMan
August 11th, 2014, 02:33 PM
I liked this for two reasons.

First, the title "Scenes from a Mezzanine Floor" amuses me quite a bit. Heck, the concept of watching scenes in the mezzanine of a hotel amuses me, what with so much activity and so little actual change occurring there.

Second, the twist at the end was fun, not what I was expecting.

Yeah, there may be some tweaking to do here to hit the balance just right between showing and telling, but your foundations are strong here.

Ethan
August 12th, 2014, 07:15 PM
Escorial; firstly thanks for reading and commenting. It's very astute of you to realise this is not a work entirely of fiction, it is in fact part of a collection of observations, over many years, in several of my favourite haunts. At the minute it is a collection of stories and I am trying to find a thread of continuity that would make them into a novel. Once again, thanks for your perceptive comments.
Intituteman; My original name for this collection of shorts was 'Inside looking out' The stories were written over a period of about twenty five years and are all based on actual events. I have of course used artistic license here and there, but essentially the twists and turns of human nature are much more intricate than imagination. Thanks for the read and time you took to comment!
I may change the name to 'Views from a mezzanine floor' ?

h'aulian scribe
September 2nd, 2014, 01:41 AM
The waitress, divorced mother of two, abusive husband, bored with her job
I agree with escorial. This sentence is where I became disengaged from the story. The narrator went from being a people watcher guessing the lives of those around her to an omniscient third person.

Ethan
October 1st, 2014, 07:06 PM
I agree with escorial. This sentence is where I became disengaged from the story. The narrator went from being a people watcher guessing the lives of those around her to an omniscient third person.
Yeah! I can see why that would be, as a stand alone piece it really doesn't flow with the rest and I guess I should have considered that before posting. The waitress features repetitively in several of the other pieces and I am considering using her as the thread to pull them together, but of course there is no way for the reader here to realise that. I hope this explains a little, although of course it is no excuse, I really should have caught it. Thanks for the input and reading time.