Flash Fiction: Toffee Day

I used the Day 2 prompt from http://flashfiction365.tumblr.com/prompts to inspire this story. The main character is strongly influenced by the guy from The Rosie Project

Her bright orange lips clashed against the red toffee apple she was biting into, and I couldn’t help but stare: she was a kaleidoscope of clashing colours. Navy-blue tattoos ran around her neck and under the collar of her pale green cardigan, which did little to hide the black tank top underneath. Her skirt was also green, but the opposite shade, and her leggings matched her lipstick.

“Take a picture, it’ll last longer.” Her harsh words surprised me. I didn’t mean to irritate her, but trying to explain that just angered her further.

“It’s not polite to stare,” she said as if she were talking to a little boy.

“There’s just so much to look at-”

She swung the toffee apple like a mace, so surprisingly violent that there was no time for the thought “I should duck now” to enter my head. Thankfully, she didn’t hit my cheek hard enough to break anything, but it was enough for the fruit to stick and hang off my burgeoning beard.

She walked off.

I wanted to know where I went wrong, but the toffee dragging on my facial hair was nonsensically painful. I had to walk around, holding the toffee apple up to my face, until I found a bathroom. The mirror and water allowed me to get to work, and using a little soap helped, but I would need hot water to get the rest of the toffee off my face.

Well, that was my day done. At least I’d helped out at the toffee apple stall before I was hit in the face with one. I’d done my bit, and now I could go home and… re-analyse how I should interact with people.

Mini Story: The Adventures of Trying to Drink Tea in Spain

The Spanish love their coffee. Every morning on our tour when we go down to breakfast there is a pot of hot coffee and another one of hot milk on our table. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t ask for it. It doesn’t matter that we never drink it – the coffee is always there, waiting for us.

I’ve looked for tea. I don’t understand how there can be so much food for the breakfast buffet but there is never an urn of hot water. I have found tea bags, but no urn. There is a coffee machine. I could have all sorts of Nespresso, complimented with George Clooney’s picture, but if I want hot water it seems to come through like a coffee percolator. Trickling, teasing, and taking as long as possible. First thing in the morning, it is enough to test all limits of my mind, body and spirit.

I’ve asked for tea. If they can make a pot of coffee, surely they have some super boiler in the kitchen that could provide a pot of tea? I’ve found that nine times out of ten, the waiter will nod curtly, or smile, or maybe just look at me and it all gives the impression that they have understood my simple request, albeit in English, before wandering off. I wait patiently, then not so patiently, and then I see the same waiter milling about topping up fruit bowls that don’t need to be topped up. Then I sigh and go back to the coffee percolator.

I have learnt that unless the waiter gives a reply in English, then they will just ignore me. Even if they can’t understand English, couldn’t they have just sent a waiter that could? This is an indulgent first world problem, I know, but without my cup of tea I can’t handle anything in the morning. In fact, I can confidently say that without my morning cuppa I become truly detrimental to society.

One of the last hotels we’ve stayed in, there was an urn of hot water. But because we were part of a tour, they seated the whole group away from buffet, up the stairs and around the corner. I was so happy to be able to drink as much tea as easily as I pleased. Ignoring the conveniently placed pots of coffee on the table, I went down to get my cuppa, but found there were no cups next to the urn. I had to go back up the stairs, around the corner to the set table to get my teacup which was, as always, much too small. Then back down again to the urn to fill up a meagre cup, which I’ve drunk by the time I get back to the table.

It’s not that the Spanish don’t have tea. It just doesn’t seem to occur to them, despite tourism being a major industry here, that tea drinkers are a numerous and cranky lot when they don’t get their tea. Of course, everything would be easier if they just bit the bullet and added simple tea & coffee making facilities in the room, just like we have as standard across Australia and is even becoming reasonably common in other parts of Europe (indeed, my friends! We are slowly winning the battle!). A little kettle and a handful of teabags is all we ask. Por favor. Please.