Moments of Weakness

I tend to fumble my way through life. I’m convinced that the only reason that I’m where I’m at today, without having suffered amazing failure, is good luck. You see, for a man who lives mostly in his head, the world is a treacherous place.

Somewhere in the inner recesses of the grey matter of my brain, my life takes place. I’m living it daily, with a sense of security and meaningfulness. Fantastic conversations are taking place at the local coffee shop. People are brought together serendipitously, and are regularly conquering dreams. There is a happiness about it all, and the world really is a magical and wonderful place.

This really is where my life is led: in a coffee shop in my head. There, people are writing novels that inspire, plays that are poignant and timeless, and poems that unearth the emotions that evoke life. Everybody drinks espresso in tiny cups, for hours. There are no computers sitting between people, and friends are made by simply occupying a vacant seat.

Everybody has time. People are patient with one another, and listen carefully before responding. All ideas are shared, and all ideas are discussed. These regulars are calibrated people, completely aware of the world that they have created and live in. They co-exist harmoniously. People are willingly vulnerable, because the milieu is safe.

But this security is upset by visitors, stopping through for a coffee while on their way to somewhere else. The social conventions are unusual to anybody who has come to visit, and the regulars at my coffee shop are not dynamic and enterprising people. So set in their ways are these regulars, that adjusting to ingratiate newcomers is nearly impossible.

Even with all of the visitors, and the regulars, this coffee shop is a quiet place. There are only about six seats, and two tables. The counter service is slow, and the hours are erratic. You will always get what you ordered, but it won’t necessarily be as you remembered it. Nobody ever goes back for the coffee, but it’d be hard to deny that there is a draw to the idiosyncratic quaintness of the place. There’s always a hum emanating from the walls.

Sometimes, too, the regulars leave to go visit other places. Hopeful and confident, they set out beyond the borders of the town, looking for other coffee shops where they might find a warm seat and a decent cup of coffee. Becoming a visitor is the only change they undergo.

They quickly lose their confidence, overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of a place that is so unfamiliar to them. In the noise, they retreat into their memories of the coffee shop. Sometimes they scream, trying to be heard through the noise. But, it isn’t noisy for the people who are regulars there, and my coffee shop regulars are just being disruptive visitors.

They can’t help but feel shame in those moments of weakness.

And, you know, if nobody ever left my coffee shop they wouldn’t ever come back with something to write about.


I’m not entirely happy with this post, but I thought I’d put it up anyway. I’m going to come back to this idea, and work through it more thoughtfully. Anyway, here it is, as it is, for now. I hope you enjoy.

3 thoughts on “Moments of Weakness

  1. You’re really flying here. It’s a marvelous piece of writing, instantly evocative and accessible to the (or rather, this?) reader. I could see the dingy yet quaint shop- with its humming walls and well-calibrated patrons- all upon first reading. And I read through it several times, because I enjoyed it just that much.

    The imagery you’ve chosen here is not in the slightest bit disingenuous because, although the coffee shop setting has been used by countless generations of storytellers past to symbolize liminal spaces/states of mind (an old episode from the Twilight Zone comes to mind)-,you’ve imbued this particular coffee shop with your own special blend of ennui. There is the unmistakable taint of the unrepentant neurotic and engagingly empathic within these walls (you’re not that surprised that someone is calling you an empath, are you? most writers of name have had at least a trace of this ability. Dostoevski and Proust seemed to have had it in spades). It is very much, I think, informed and inspired by the small town-scape you currently find yourself in.

    Short story writing is truly an art that few writers can boast mastery of. One of my professors- a prominent literary critic/biographer of the late Mavis Gallant- would often muse that it was far more difficult to write a brilliant short story than a full length novel, and I’m rather inclined to agree with him.
    (A brief description of his masterwork here: http://books.google.ca/books/about/The_Light_of_Imagination.html?id=gapaAAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y)

    You’ve revealed a true and enviable gift for that form here. As to the novel/novella writing- it’s a laudable ambition, to be sure, but not one that every writer need necessarily aspire to. So don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t materialize.

    Just continue to hone your craft, secure in the knowledge that you are a gifted writer whose voice and perspective will surely interest and engage others. And populate books with more (longer-ish) stories, just like this gem.

  2. one thing I had meant to add:
    while I am aware that this is not a short story in its current form, it could probably be worked into one.

    Read the short story/essay anthology “Labyrinths” by Jorge Luis Borges to get a sense of what I mean. It’s a masterpiece. Your style is more sentimental than his- he was far more concerned with metaphysics than anything else- but you might benefit from reading it nevertheless.

    1. Hi Qallupilluk-luk,

      Thank you for your encouraging comments. To place me in the company of Dostoevsky, Proust, and Gallant, even at the table near the kitchen, is quite kind of you. Thank you.

      I’ll be sure to check out the resources that you have provided as soon I’m afforded some leisure-time.

      I hope that you continue to read this blog, and that I can continue to create content worthy of your readership.

      Best,

      Bernard

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