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Grateful and Guilty – Barnes & Noble: The Scene Before Me

Grateful and Guilty – Writing Prompt

bn cafe

Note: The prompt asks the writer to discuss a guilty pleasure. If you haven’t guessed, my guilty pleasure is spending my free time in Barnes and Noble, preferably in the seated cafe area, and soaking up the environment. There’s so much more to learn beyond the books that line these aisles. Following this statement is my description of the scene before me on today’s trip to Barnes and Noble. I hope you enjoy it.

As I sat on the floor of my local Barnes and Noble accompanied by my purse and laptop, the building swamped with locals taking shelter from the rain, I took a good luck around at the faces present among me at the filled seats. Students, potentially from my university, families with small children giggling at the sight of a new picture book, middle-agers catching up on the latests magazine publications, hot coffee warming the palms of their hands. There’s a lot you can learn about the people you see around you just from observing their choices. What do I mean by that, you ask? What they’re eating, what they’re dressed in, how they present themselves among the crowd. Do they smile back when they catch your gaze? Are their faces buried into a novel, concealed? There are so many factors that come into play when you’re evaluating strangers. I often do this before I sit down, if there are choices to be made between seats. I like to scan the area and make mental notes. Who could I see myself talking to? Who seems to have the same interests? Are they reading that psychology book for study, or for pleasure? Do they look intrigued, bored, indifferent? Are they accompanied, did they bring their work from home?

This time, however, there are no seats. I begin fiddling with my fingernails, picking off the remnants of my icy blue nail polish. I can feel my leg falling asleep, and shake it out from under my other leg, stimulating the blood flow to my dead limb. I look up to see a woman packing her work in a rushed manner, the individual on the other side of her phone line consuming her thoughts. Purse and laptop in both hands, I wait for my approach. As I wait, I catch a glimpse into the conversation of the woman sitting behind her joking with the cafe cashier about prioritizing the production of the pumpkin spice latte. I feel like gagging at the mere thought of pumpkin. She evacuates, and I claim the table before anyone has the chance to grab it first, a little table in the center of the room. The room has grown silent, aside from the scattered orders at the cafe every couple of minutes. An increasingly apparent chatter has grown with the expansion of the cafe line, attracting the attention of the readers. They seem agitated by the sudden introduction of noise. And that is simply what it is at this point: noise. Words exchanged between the ten individuals are essentially indecipherable. Even with such a diverse audience, such a broad spectrum of types of people, Barnes and Noble still captures the essence of calmness, focus, productivity. It’s an environment that sparks and nurtures my creativity.

What would you say is your guilty pleasure?

Comment below.

Daily Writing Prompt: Start a story/excerpt beginning with the following: “The last time I saw her, she…”

Listening to:

“I Want You So Bad I Can’t Breathe” by OK Go

“You And Only You” by We the Kings

“She Keeps Me Warm” by Mary Lambert

“The last time I saw her, she…” had her ruby hair pulled back in a messy bun, little strands poking out in all directions. I had always called it her fireworks hair, which made her laugh that sweet laugh of hers… Her calm, green eyes were focused intently on the laptop screen in front of her, working through the details of her latest novel, her pride and joy, her bare feet tapping, dancing to the beat of a new vinyl she’d been dying to show me. I could feel myself smiling at the thought of her excitement when she wrote, the twitches in her face as she concentrated. She was so beautiful then. So vibrant in her personality, an appreciative and gentle soul with a free spirit. Often I wondered if she were the reason the world was so colorful, as everything she touched came to life, rejuvenated with vigor. Her eyes caught mine, and they returned my smile above the screen. I arose from the couch across from her, her “oldie but goodie” leather couch she refused to let go of, eager to hold her, eager to wrap her in my arms and tell her that having her heart keeps mine beating. So proud of her, my beautiful girl, the love of my life, for all she is. As I reached out my hand toward her, I found her chair cold. In a panic, I felt myself grabbing the chair, my hands frantically searching it for my love. I closed my eyes tightly, my hands rising to my eyes, and fell to my knees at the foot of the desk she had so often wrote upon. Each morning, coffee in hand, she was there long before I was even awake….all for granted, how she was there to greet me with a coffee of my own…. How I could wake when I did, selfishly, and not spend every waking moment… how I slept without realizing I was wasting time…All this precious time, gone. Wetness, tears flowing uncontrollably down my cheeks. My face felt sticky and hot in my stress. It had to have been a nightmare. It couldn’t be real. She was here. Holding my heart, kissing every inch of my face, just yesterday. I can feel myself shaking….The ceiling is going to collapse on me, bury me in this ruin I had made for myself…Was it yesterday? Her rug is here under my knees….Wait, where is she? When was she here? Her perfume lingers in the mahogany of our furniture….When did I feel the heat of her palms against my cheeks? Each tear burned more than the last as they flooded my lips. Had my love……given up on me, on her life and mine? Was she ever there…at all? Was she just a cruel dream?