Friday, June 7, 2013

Fiction Friday Challenge ~ The Cup of Coffee

The cup of coffee sat untouched just in front of her hands. The silence was uncomfortable and awkward, though the steam rising up from the cup of black liquid danced in the air in such a mesmerizing way that I can't even say how long she sat there without saying a word.

I thought it was strange. I mean, I had called her and set up this meeting after speaking with her mother. The first conversation was quite possibly the strangest one I had ever had in my entire adult life. It was as though she knew that this day would come, like she had been waiting for my call, but even then she was still entirely unsure of what to actually say. Kristin seemed annoyed that I had called.

I didn't know how to introduce myself, so it just came out. I told her that I was Anna and that I wanted to meet my sister. She fumbled a bit with her words at first, but I was resolute with my stubbornness and managed to somehow convince her that it would be better for both Abigail and I to meet. That we'd be better for knowing each other now that we both knew of one another.

She absolutely knew who I was.

Where I was wrong was in my assumption that Abigail knew.

She didn't.

Now that I had gone and opened this can of worms, Kristin had no choice but to tell her daughter the truth. I sensed that she preferred to collect the money, forget where it came from, and labor under the illusion that her relationship with my father had been just like any other marriage that ended in an unfortunate, early death. Except it was anything but that. They weren't married, she was a kept woman, he was a cheater and I'd just revealed her to be a liar.

Now, because of me, she had to tell her daughter.

Abigail had been lied to her just as I had. She'd been led to believe, just as I had, that her father worked a lot and his responsibilities there called him far away very often. She'd been told her entire life, just as I had, that she was an only child.

Ultimately though, it was him, the greatest perpetrator of the lies. The man on who's feet I learned to dance, the man I watched take his last breath. He was the one.

He was the one with a second, secret family.

Here she was before me now, with no clear understanding of what was real in her life and what wasn't, and she sat staring at the wall.

I knew that though we were in a very similar place, we weren't really. There was over ten years between her and I, and it seemed like an uncrossable ocean right now.

She sighed again and fidgeted in her seat. She tapped the screen of her phone again, like she had done habitually every fifteen seconds or so, as though she was hoping that someone, somewhere would call her and need her to be somewhere else, anywhere else, right now.

No calls, no texts, no updates on anything.

She was trapped here, at this tiny table in this cafe, with me, the sister she didn't seem to want right about now.

Finally she lifted her chin up slightly and her eyes drifted up towards mine. For a second, mine caught hers, then she looked away urgently.

The tears started. She tried to fight them back, but it was no use.

I always wanted a sister, she said. Then she reached her hand out, across the table, and placed it on mine.

She had a warmth to her that transferred immediately from her skin to mine, and I couldn't fight back the tears that built up between one heartbeat and the next.

Me too.

We both stood and melted into each others arms, making quite a scene in this formerly quiet coffee shop. I held this stranger until it felt like I'd known her all my life.

After a while, we pulled back from one another just far enough to look at the other and start laughing. Whatever makeup we'd both put on that morning was streaming down our faces in black rivers of runny mascara.

I reached for the napkin dispenser and handed her one. We gathered ourselves a bit and sat back down.

This distant girl who hadn't paid any attention to me moments before was a chatterbox now. She had questions, so many questions. What did I like, what job did I have, where did I go to school? Did I have a boyfriend?

She was into art, she had just broken up with her first real boyfriend, she was inquisitive and bubbling over.

Within the course of an hour we had gone from reluctant strangers to sisters.

Kristin walked in and over to the table before either one of us realized she was there. We were laughing about some story when she made her presence known by clearing her throat.

Are you done here? she asked.

The Abigail I had just gotten to know, the one who went by Abby, disappeared in an instant. She crawled back into her shell and complacently said, well, yes, I guess so.

Abby stood up and locked eyes with me.

I recognized it immediately.

She and I weren't very different. Her mother and mine weren't either. We hadn't just led parallel lives, in many ways we'd led nearly identical ones, same father and all.

I spoke up before she let go of the table, So, I'll see you soon, then?

I hope -

Her mother cut her off. Why would you two need to see each other again? You know about one another now, isn't that enough? We're done here, let's go.

She grabbed Abby's elbow and led her towards the door without even making eye contact with me once.

With tears in her eyes, Abby turned back to me and mouthed the words, text me.

Of course I would. I had a sister now, and I wasn't about to let her go. I needed her. She needed me more.

This post is a part of a collaborative project including many writers from different backgrounds, all writing on the same prompt each week. After taking a break from the challenge, I am back (and hope to stay a while). The first post in this story can be found here, the second here, the third here, the fourth here. Please check out the pieces written by the others in the group. I will add their links as they post.

This week's prompt was a simple one that persuaded me to write this week even though I had taken off the last two weeks:

Start your piece with the following words, "The cup of coffee...", courtesy of Tammy at World's Worst Moms.


  1. Oh this story hits so very close to home. Different, yet so similar. So well written!

  2. I have a real life story that is similar, yet different. Well done!


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