This story is inspired by one of Tim Clare’s Weekly Writing Workouts. The challenge was to write a scene where one character had a lot of questions, and to ask those questions without using questions. (!)
“Hey,” Mark said, giving a quick wave to an older man seated at a table inside the café. The older man waved back at him, and looked like he was about to stand. “I’m just gonna grab a drink.” Mark went up to the counter to place his order. “I’ll have an iced coffee with caramel.” He shifted awkwardly on his feet.
The older man took a deep breath in, at once amused but feeling a hint of melancholy at the familiar order. He cleared his throat and tried to distract himself with his phone.
“Hey,” Mark said, drink in hand as he slid into a chair at the man’s table. He took a wary sip from his drink.
“Hey Mark,” the man said, sounding confident. “It’s been a while. You’re looking good, a lot older now.”
Mark nodded and kind of laughed. “Yeah, I mean … yeah. It’s been a while.” He took a quick glance at the older man to gauge his response, then looked back down at his drink as he twirled the plastic cup in his hands.
“Yeah, it has.” The man leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms in front of his chest, then clearing his throat. “So you’re in school now, I heard.”
“Yep, yep. Been going for a couple years now.”
“You’re almost done, then.”
“I graduate in May.”
“Wow, that’s great. Great job. You must be really excited. Probably can’t wait to get started.”
“I’m super stoked, my dad …” he cleared his throat and shifted in his chair. “My dad put in a good word for me at his buddy’s shop. It’s actually not too far from here. ‘Sposed to start in a couple weeks. They’re gonna train me after school.”
“That’s great, Mark! Really happy for you. You put in a lot of work to graduate. You’ve really earned it. Congrats.” His arms were still crossed in front of him. He was silent for a bit, looking out at the street through the large plate glass window. “Yeah I should take my car in one of these days,” he said with a chuckle. “It could really use a tune-up.”