Jess and Sam

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This was written for The Red Dress Club, a virtual writer's society. My third prompt participating, this is my second for Red Writing Hood. Trying my fiction writing hat back on after 16 or so years of not writing. Concrit is welcomed and appreciated!

Write – fiction or non-fiction – about a time when you took a detour. Where had you intended to go and where did you end up?
Word limit: 600 My count: 558

“Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!” She pounds her fist against the steering wheel and stops, last in the line of cars snaking down the road. Catching herself checking the rearview mirror, she scolds herself out loud.
“Don't be crazy, Jess.
He hasn't followed you.
You left him.
You. Left. Sam.
He's probably happy you're gone.”

Reaching down to turn on the radio, she hears a familiar intro and cranks it up.
“She's just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world…”
This was their song. He was from Michigan and she was, simply, a small town girl. The fact that this song had played on the jukebox during their first date only made them seem even more destined to be together.

Impatient, needing to move, she decides to change course. With a perfunctory look over her shoulder, allowing the blinker to tick just twice, she pulls into the exit lane, speeding past the waiting motorists on the highway.
At the end of the off-ramp, she stops. “Now where? Flip a coin? Heads left, tails right.” She grabs a penny from the unused ashtray and flips it up. As it spins, she notices the pale strip of skin on her ring finger, the rest of her hand looking tanned in comparison.
The decision has been made, her destiny set, for she sees Lincoln's familiar profile lying on the passenger seat. “Left it is!”

Her destination still unknown, she feels compelled to drive on.
A yawn escapes from her, a reminder that she's tired; emotionally and physically drained. She peers through the twilight at storefronts in the shopping centers that are passing by, looking for any place that might serve a reliable cup of coffee.

Pulling into a parking space near the cafe, she goes in search of the brew that had drawn her here in the first place. The counter is manned by two teenaged baristas. Sisters? Cousins? The place looks like the type that would be run by family.
They're deep in conversation, obviously concerned about something. The taller girl keeps sending worried glances towards the front of the store. Their hushed whispers draw Jess in; before she can help herself, she's asking “Hey. Is everything OK?”
Pulled back into the present by this unfamiliar voice, both girls startle and blink confusedly at Jess, unsure where she'd come from.

“Hi! Welcome to Kismet Koffee!”
“Hey. Are you sure everything's OK?”
“Oh. Well…” she beckons Jess closer and lowers her voice. “There's a guy in the corner there… No! Don't look! There's this guy, and he's been sitting there all afternoon, nursing one cup of coffee and crying. My sister thinks we should kick him out, but I just can't do it. He's just so sad…” her voice trails off and she looks away.
“That is sad,” Jess just can't bring herself to feel sorry for some heartbroken stranger in a coffee shop. “Can I get a cup of coffee with room for cream please?”

Stepping away from the counter with her coffee, she can't help but glance in the direction of the heartbroken man in the corner. Her surprise is so all-consuming and instant, she sloshes coffee all over the table and herself
“CRAP!” Grabbing napkins to wipe the spreading puddle, this flurry of activity catches everyone's attention, including the sad guy.

He stands up.
“Jess?”
“Hi, Sam.”

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19 Comments

  1. GF, you rocked it! Will be hearing more about these two?

    Um- please?!

    You did an especially great job of weaving between the narrative and the dialogue. Really well done!

  2. Love it! And I don't think 'she' is overused at all (per our tweets last night).
    Nice work here !

  3. I agree, I love the dialog (something I struggle with). Keep on writing fiction, you've got it girl, you do!

  4. Like Renee said, I was ready to be afraid of Sam too, before I knew it was Sam of course. Love your descriptions in this…

  5. LOVED the ending, well told.
    However,I don't know Sam and Jess so I don't know why she left. Could you tighten this up enough to give you room to give us a little more insight?

  6. Ha, sometimes the world just isn't big enough. I will say that I thought from the beginning of the story that she was afraid of him partly due to the frantic rearview mirror checking, but then she didn't seem afraid of him when she does in fact run into him, so I wasn't sure if this was a happy ending or a somebody is going to get stabbed in the eye ending.

  7. Lots of fun! I need to know more about them. What happened before? What happens next? Inquiring minds….

  8. Fun piece, Lizz! I enjoyed your dialogue. It flowed naturally and helped propel the story. Also liked her thoughts on the baristas, sharing that this clearly isn't a corner Starbucks. Hope you'll write more of Jess's story for us to read! :>

  9. I didn't see the ending coming either, until the heartbroken man in the corner was mentioned, and then I actually, literally squee-d in excitement. I don't know why she left, but I want to know what happens next.

    Thanks for your help on twitter last night.

  10. The beginning of this was very strong! I like how you immediately brought us into Jess's world!

    I liked the atmosphere you created as well: the car, the detour, the coffee shop.

    I did feel like it could use a little tightening up. In the beginning I got a sense that Sam was some sort of bad guy–like she was running from him, but at the end, I felt sorry for him, and I questioned why she had left him in the first place.

    Maybe weave a little more background in…as a reader, I am not sure how you want me to feel about these characters.

    I did see the end coming, but I liked that because you had hinted earlier that they were fated to be together, so the end went along with that idea, which I thought was nice.

    Glad you decided to do fiction! This piece has loads of potential! Can't wait to read more about Sam and Jess!

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