Getting on with It

A mini story about petty pains of life and how to face them.

I had just dropped of my daughter at school. I did not start the engine straight away and sat in the car until she vanished through the gate. I could drive home and get into my writing. Or, I could have a coffee at a coffee shop in town. It was an easy decision to make. But I turned on the engine and hesitated, I had a slight stomach pain. And, I’d have to park, see people, coffee is not good for me, I’d be breaking away from my thoughts for writing. Yet despite all my grumbling I pulled out onto the road and followed it -towards the coffee shop.

My eye-lids felt heavy as I approached the round-about, this was my chance to return home. But I drove on, resentful, as if I had been summoned to have coffee by some higher force and I had little control. And it bothered me, and then the sudden realisation that I had my dog with me, I wouldn’t leave him in the car. I would have to pull him into the coffee shop too. I should have just stayed home. But I had arrived and was parking.

I traipsed all over the coffee shop pulling my scruffy poodle around when the spark in her eyes caught my attention. She was old but sharp, anyone could see that. There in that corner it was all order, a straight blond bob, bright pink lipstick, a matching skirt and jacket outfit to flaunt her trim figure. And to top it all off -a poodle that sat on her lap like a brooch on a coat. I hesitated and turned my back, hoping for a table away from her. But there was none. And I knew she wanted to talk.

“Excuse me.” Her voice came to me like a goose call in a foggy marsh.

I froze for a few seconds, then turned.

“Teddy Bear wants to talk to your dog.” She pronounced assertively.

“Sure” I said as I sat. Her white poodle had a long trimmed snout, long combed hair on top of his head and looked nothing like a teddy bear. Our poodles were of exactly the same size, mine black and scruffy, hers white and immaculate.

I pulled out my writing pad immediately in an effort to show my intention to write. While Teddy Bear wriggled about from his lap place, my dog waged his tail and leaned his paws on the old lady’s chair. I didn’t want to appear unfriendly so as I dug my arm elbow high into my bag to search for a pen I mumbled: “He’s very cute” in a small voice.

The waiter came and I ordered a small very weak cappuccino. And then I put my head down and started jotting down a few ideas I feared would escape me. But none of them had much value. I knew she wanted to talk to me. So I put my pen down, slowly slid the lid back onto it, and turned to her bright face. She was sipping the very last bit of her large size coffee. I was close enough to see that is was strong. I smiled and she put it down.

“Guess how old I’m turning? She said daringly. I shrugged my shoulders.

“Eighty-five!” She sang.

”That’s amazing, you look great!” I cheered.

“Do you know what my secret is? I don’t complain, I get up in the morning do my exercise and get on with it.”

She placed the poodle on the floor, raised her self from the chair victoriously and left with a smile.

And then I was no longer bothered, no longer hesitant. It seemed as if someone had turned on the light. I knew then why I’d come to the coffee shop. I slid the lid off my pen. I ordered another coffee and wrote decisively, despite the slight pain in my stomach, despite my petty concerns, and despite the world.

Paula Ajuria 2014