Write It Sideways

Excerpt Critique: Coffee In a Paper Cup

Please welcome today’s anonymous aspiring author, ready for a peer critique.

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Coffee In a Paper Cup

Short Story

*Please note: This excerpt is taken from the beginning of the work.

You’ve had worse in seatmates.

Four-thirty AM in what has got to be the smallest international airport in this country, and you’re curled sleepy around your thermos of coffee, one foot tucked up underneath you, watching other tired people, electric signs, TV screens all reflected in the windows against a still-dark sky. Dawn’s threading along the edges of the hills; you can just decipher the outlines of planes creeping along the runways.

You catch yourself humming along with the music from your iPod, stop. Take a nonchalant sip of your drink (craving the scent more than the caffeine) pretending it wasn’t you humming a (probably off-tune) accompaniment to Sigh No More.

‘Don’t stop on my account.’

You look up, raise an eyebrow at the guy who just spoke. Tallish, he wears battered work boots, jeans threadbare in patches, a grey T-shirt under a leather jacket that, like the rest of his clothes, has a lot of character. (Really. Nicer to say that than ‘seen better days’.) Military-short light brown hair, stunning green eyes, a smile he doesn’t mean.

He looks so tired, and don’t you know exactly how that feels?

Gestures with his own cup of coffee. (Paper cup, you notice mournfully. At least it’s biodegradable.) ‘This seat taken, sweetheart?’

You shake your head, move your coat to make room for him, and just to let him know he’s coming on a bit strong, deliberately place your left hand on your knee.

The engagement ring’s just a white lie, useful for fending off anyone sketchy…

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