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Coffee and Pearls - Chapter 1 (revised)

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Old 03-10-2007, 11:30 AM
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Default Coffee and Pearls - Chapter 1 (revised)


Chapter 1


I talked to strangers who told me I was going insane. My dearest friends were of the opinion that I was seeing ghosts and my family thought they were merely hallucinations. My mother was constantly saying, “Sleep more, you’ll stop hallucinating.” It took years for me to realize what these sights were.


No, they were not ghosts, nor was I going insane, nor were they hallucinations. I was simply seeing what has, and always will, exist right beside us. Angels and demons and humans are coexistent; we always have been and always will be.

For a short time, I nearly believed what the psychologists at school were saying, that I really was going insane and if I so desired, they could refer me to another shrink who could give me medication to make it all go away. I came close to making that choice, but I had lived so long with these visions, I wasn’t sure if I could ever live without them.

My closest friend soon noticed what she deemed to be "strange behavior." I shouldn't have tried to explain the things that I saw. Mercedes misunderstood and told me that these sights were ghosts. After that, there was a nice, long lecture about mediums. I began to believe that these flashes of faces and glimpses of people walking around really were ghosts. But at the same time, it didn’t seem quite right. Ghosts are either human souls that are temporarily released from Purgatory to redeem themselves on earth or else they are souls that have yet to gain entry to Purgatory. The figures that I had witnessed were exceedingly perfect and beautiful. These creatures were alluring in a way unknown to any being on earth. There was one, which showed himself on numerous occasions, by far the most marvelous that I had seen.

The very first time I encountered him, I was a sixteen-year-old high school junior working in the coffee shop that my mother owned.


At first, I just saw glimpses of his wings as he turned corners in my house or walking past the window of the little café my mother and I ran. Glimpses tended to be shrugged off as hair falling in my face or my eyes watering up. But then I saw something that could absolutely not be mistaken for anything but what it was.


My favorite seat in Homebodies Café was the oversized and overstuffed red velvet couch in the corner between the rustic fireplace and our circular window. Being an avid daydreamer, I was diligently sipping a cappuccino while staring out the window, thinking of what it might be like to get married and become a mother, or to become a journalist for the New York Times, or to become the next Judy Garland. But I was rudely brought back to reality when he walked past. He looked almost like every other twenty-something year-old that I had ever known - and having two college-aged brothers I knew many twenty-something year olds - but there was something else about him that made him far more attractive than others. It could have been any combination of things; his soft-looking lips, his choice of apparel, his hair, or perhaps it was his eyes that made me wonder who he was. He noticed me rudely gaping at him and threw a small nod in my direction. After looking around, I came to find that it wasn’t only in my direction it was at me. I was the only person in the café. At that point, my body was in shock at the strangely bewitching, yet ordinary sight, but my soul had an urge to run out after him. Then my mind acknowledged the fact that there was something not quite human about him. I allowed myself to be hypnotized by the fire to distract my mind from wandering.

About fifteen more customers came before the end of my shift and at six o’clock Elise insisted that she take over for me. She handed me my school bag and my coat, scarf, and hat. I took my purse from under the cash register and headed out to my car. I walked down the deserted street as I rummaged through my purse to find my car key and then I heard it. I turned around and there he was. I was faced with two presumptuous eyes colored a most unusual shade of green and a face that was perhaps, at one time, cherubic but had lived through hardship and turmoil that had since carved sharp angles and lines into his features. How I knew his name, I’m not sure I’ll ever know, but he was Lucius. He circled around me as a vulture might circle a corpse. My instinct told me that I should have felt terrified in his presence, after all, I had no idea who he really was, but he had such a bizarre and calming air about him that I couldn’t help but feel suspended above myself.

He said, through an accent that was neither English nor American that he knew that I could see him and wanted to know how. I struggled to explain to him that I had no idea and asked if he could offer a possible answer. After an awkward silence he looked over me once more and vanished. I stood there, staring at the cloudless December sky wondering where he had gone and gazed off in amazement almost hoping for him to return.

My mind began to function again and I realized just how long I had been standing there. I got into the car and went home.

I was definitely shaken by Lucius’ sudden appearance but it sparked my curiosity. I began to question everything around me to reveal what he could be, delving into my faith and hoping that it would hold the answers. It was over a year after my first encounter with Lucius before I was allowed to sleep peacefully again.


Lucius made a startling reappearance almost exactly a year after our first encounter. In that time there hadn’t been a single vision of anything divine so when Lucius materialized once more I was sorely disappointed that our meeting was more than just chance. The second time I saw Lucius, he was sitting on the generally favored couch in the café with his feet set on the coffee table in front of him.

I came into the shop through the back door and he was the very first thing that I laid eyes on. My heart skipped a beat. I stood there, gaping, until Elise tapped my shoulder and demanded to know what I was staring at. I replied that it was nothing, absolutely nothing at all. I put away my coat and purse so I could begin my work for the day. I was working in the shop from four until twelve that Sunday and during that time Lucius never left the room. He read a book for a couple of hours then he began exploring the knick-knacks on the mantle over the fireplace. A brief time later I found him staring out the window at the lights of the Chinese restaurant from across the street glowing in the midnight darkness for a long while. When my shift finally ended, he followed me out the back door.

As I locked the café door and stepped into the otherwise deserted alleyway, I wondered aloud why he was following me. As he rocked back and forth on his heels with his hands in his trench coat pockets, he told me that I was probably the most interesting person to watch because I knew all too well that he was there but lacked the confidence to talk to him in front of other humans. I glared into his brilliant eyes almost daring to ask what he meant by that. It soon turned into a staring contest and I was the one who blinked. Lucius was nowhere to be seen.

I awoke the next morning with Lucius’ words echoing through my mind. “You lack the confidence to speak to me in the presence of other humans.” What the hell was that supposed to mean? I checked the alarm clock, trying to put it out of my mind, and nearly panicked when I noticed the late time, I nearly thought I was late for school but it was the first day of Christmas break. There was no need to rush off anywhere. The corrupt public school system attempted to brainwash all of the students to thinking that it was “holiday recess” but, being a devout Catholic, I insisted that it was Christmas Break.

I went through my morning routine with Lucius’ statement racing through my mind, trying to find a place to settle so that I could figure out what it meant. As my mother left for work she reminded me that I still had to do the dishes. I let out a small, unhappy groan and kissed her goodbye.

My dad left for work at five that morning - he kept the strangest hours - and my four younger brothers, two sets of twins, were all staying with various relatives for the week. And both of my older brothers were away at college, not coming home until the day before Christmas Eve. I was an only child for a week, thank heaven.

I grabbed my favorite jeans and sweatshirt and locked myself in the bathroom to take a shower. As I was drying off I heard the front door open and close. Mercedes, being my best friend, had a tendency of just walking into my house if the front door was unlocked, even at the most unearthly hours, but I didn’t mind. I got dressed, hung up my towel, and messily pulled up my hair. I walked into our living room and fully expected Mercedes to have already gotten herself a glass of skim milk and be sitting on the couch, waiting for me to come out of the bathroom, but no. There was Lucius, sitting on my mother’s beige couch sipping red wine. Where the wine came from, I’ll never know. Nobody in my house drank wine, especially the red ones.

The first thing I demanded to know was how the hell he got into my house. He told me in that singsong way that he came in the same way that every human has entered a building for as long as anyone could remember, the front door. I rolled my eyes and told him that if he spilled so much as a drop of wine on my mother’s couch, he would take responsibility for the consequences.

I turned to leave the room and he was suddenly in front of me. I finally asked what he wanted from me, why was he stalking me? He replied that he wanted me to know. To know all about them and to stop asking questions to which I already knew the answers. I left the room in irritation and when I came back, he had disappeared. I had no idea who, or what, he was referring to when he said “them” despite the fact that he insisted I should know.

I sat on the edge of the couch and stared at the half empty glass of red wine sitting in the center of the mahogany coffee table where Lucius had left it. The crystal glass stared back at me, taunting me, as Lucius had done. I stole the glass off the table and swallowed the contents in a single gulp as if that would forever silence him. I gagged.

At that exact moment, Mercedes let herself into the house. She saw me holding the wine glass and her childish-face distorted into a look of concern and she demanded to know what, in heaven’s name, was I doing. The alcohol went straight to my head and when I swaggered toward her she snatched the glass from my hand, heading towards the kitchen to wash it. I stumbled after her, trying to explain that it wasn’t what it seemed, but...I couldn’t bring myself to tell her about Lucius. After drying the crystal glass, she began to place it on top of the china cabinet in our dining room but the movement was interrupted by hesitation.

What had I been drinking, anyway, she wanted to know. My answer came out shakily as I responded that it had been red wine. She gave me the “You are insane” look, placed the glass where it belonged and started checking all of the cabinets, the fridge, even my bedroom for the bottle of red wine. I sat in the kitchen, waiting for her to be finished and when she finally returned she informed me that there was absolutely no red wine in that house. Out of frustration in my actions she began listing off the alcohol in our home using her fingers; we had tequila and Kaluha and brandy and whiskey and almost every other alcoholic beverage any one could think of but no red wine. I told her that I knew that already. We sat silently in the kitchen for a very long time.

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Last edited by Miette DuPain; 03-16-2007 at 04:58 PM..
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Old 03-10-2007, 05:18 PM
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Very good writing in the first person concept. I'm having a tough time with this one.
On one part I really liked your story, in another part there are too many words describing certain scenes.

Example:
No, they were not ghosts, nor was I going insane, nor were they hallucinations.

Personally I have a hard time with repetition. I've noticed you've used repetition a few times.

And not enough describing others.

Example:
I was working in the shop from four until twelve that Sunday and during that time Lucius never left the room.


Is this early in the morning or in the late afternoon.


He read a book for a couple of hours then he began exploring the knick-knacks on the mantle over the fireplace. He stared out the window at the Chinese restaurant across the street for a while and when my shift finally ended, he followed me out the back door.

knick-knacks on the mantle over the fireplace: this part leads to think your either home or in a chic restaurant. But the rest of the story leads us to believe it is a rather small Café. Even the part of the Chinese restaurant does not let us know what time of day it is. There is no indication of people walking on the street or if the road lights are lit. Leads to confusion.


The conflict, her aggresion at his appearences are nicely portrayed.


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Old 03-11-2007, 11:26 AM
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Thank you so much for your input. It's very encouraging.

I was trying to portray the cafe as a homey sort of place. I'm not quite sure how I might change the description, though.

As for the Chinese restaurant, how about if I rephrased it sort of like this:

He read a book for a couple of hours before he began exploring the knick-knacks on the mantle over the fireplace. He stared out the window at the neon lights of the Chinese restaurant glowing in the midnight darkness from across the street for a long while. When my shift finally ended, he followed me out the back door.

Less confusing, no?


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Old 03-11-2007, 03:31 PM
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Sounds really good, but do they have neon lights. I know they don't where I live. Just something I noticed because the neon light seems to glare alot kind of taking away from the story. It also seems to give a seedy touch though. I don't think that is what you want in your story. Just a thought for it could work.

As for the fireplace if you introduced it a little earlier it would pass alot better as is; it was a total surprise but you are right it does give a nice feel to it.
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Old 03-11-2007, 06:38 PM
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Actually, I mentioned the fireplace in the 7th paragraph attempting to set the scene and all that.

Grr...I'm having so much trouble with this time/light/chinese restaurant bit. I swear, it's been plaguing my thoughts all day and will continue to do so until I resolve this. I guess I can be kind of cheep and just take out "neon" instead of trying to restructure it...

He read a book for a couple of hours before he began exploring the knick-knacks on the mantle over the fireplace. He stared out the window at the lights of the Chinese restaurant glowing in the midnight darkness from across the street for a long while. When my shift finally ended, he followed me out the back door.
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Old 03-11-2007, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Miette DuPain View Post
He stared out the window at the lights of the Chinese restaurant glowing in the midnight darkness from across the street for a long while.
I like it alot though you should say something like - later on he stared - or something like that, giving him a continuation to his actions. I like the rest.
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Old 03-12-2007, 08:06 AM
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A brief time later I found him staring out the window at the lights of the Chinese restaurant from across the street glowing in the midnight darkness for a long while.

Hah! I feel like a genius.
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Old 03-14-2007, 01:41 PM
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I really like this story. I'll definitly read anymore chapters you put up.

The only thing I thought was wierd was that she was surprised to see Lucius when she sees angels and demons all the time. But otherwise I thought it was good. Ecspecially the part about Public schools changing it to holiday break.
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Old 03-15-2007, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Miette DuPain View Post
A brief time later I found him staring out the window at the lights of the Chinese restaurant from across the street glowing in the midnight darkness for a long while.

Hah! I feel like a genius.

Good going genius!
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Old 03-19-2007, 09:16 PM
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very good chapter. the only thing that I saw is some of your paragrahps are a little long. Maybe if you break some of the longer paragraphs up i think it would flow a little better.
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Old 03-20-2007, 02:11 AM
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Reads ok so far, though times I was a little frustrated with being tooled all of the conversations, I personally like to hear them not be tolled what had been said. For me being able to read each line of dialogue as it comes is as if I was hearing them. It makes it more real. Then again that might just be me.
Any way when I have time I will read the next bit.

Sincerely Worlock
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