Don't ever completely scrap your work; make new beginnings out of the old pieces
While trying to get some inspiration for a new short story, I decided to write about a painfully awkward moment between two eccentric characters:
Leanne stared at the caramel colored rim of coffee that was doomed to stay at the bottom of her mug until a dishwasher would whisk it away. Coffee shops weren’t really her thing for this type of situation. Usually coffee shops were her solace; good for mind clearing and people watching, sometimes good for making her feel less alone by letting her pretend like everyone there was a friend. For awkward ‘I-barely-know-you-but-you-just-asked-me-to-coffee-and-now-you’re-not-talking-to-me’ moments (the likes of which she sensed to be a common occurrence for her) she may have preferred some place less sacred to her. Perhaps in a canoe, or at a boxing match, or somewhere else that made her cringe. When thinking this, she cringed at her own habits of cringing.
Bryce looked away from the door for a moment, over at Leanne’s face, half masked by her nest of crimped red hair. He hoped his asking her to stay with him after their study group left hadn’t been mistaken for asking her on a date. After all, he had already been married and divorced all in the one summer before college started and he wasn’t ready to ask another lady on a date, let alone look at her romantically. He just thought she was a cool girl. One who would appreciate what he was trying to do. In retrospect, he probably could have just told her what he was up to but talking to her was just slightly awkward and he was never one to break the tension very well. Whenever he tried, the tension was just shattered and the shrapnel killed them all with a fresh uncooperative moment.
“Yeah?” She said, as she bolted up, knocked over her mug, and deserted the ring of coffee. She mentally reprimanded herself for such a rash and obscene reaction and looked at Bryce’s charmingly odd face with her best charming smile.
“Um, you said you loved maple syrup, right?”
“Yeah, I really do! But I never eat it alone, only with my French toast. I mean I never drink it alone. A cup full of maple syrup would be slightly sickly.”
“You were saying that earlier in our study group, what about with pancakes?”
“No, only French toast.”
“Oh. Well, um,” he cleared his throat like there had been something festering in it for years, “So Flint and I, I mean my friend Flint was supposed to meet us here tonight. He really loves maple syrup.”
“Okay,” she said expectantly.
“Yeah. I think he thought I was joking. I mean, I told him I wanted to introduce him to a girl who really loves maple syrup. How far-fetched is that?” They gave each other crooked smiles and each went back to their areas of concentration; Leanne to the now slightly chipped mug and Bryce to the still closed door.
To both of their relieves, a barista came over to them in his disheveled manner that made people think he was on the run or bursting in with some important news. His apron drooped at crotch. Bryce stood up at attention as the barista announced closing time.
Hope you enjoyed!