WEP/IWSG February 2020- Café Terrace

a joint light rays

The first WEP Challenge of 2020 is here. To read more about it, visit here

And here is my take on the prompt which is a popular painting by Vincent Van Gogh, given here…

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Café Terrace

Ah! The balmy mornings of late summer. How I love the sun on my back and on those wicker chairs and the verdant lawns and…and on Joanna’s bewildering countenance.

Joanna’s been with me for fifteen years. Me? Well, Hallo folks! I am Café Terrace. I came straight off an artist’s easel and found a spot here in Art Plein Spui. I’ve been around for over a century and feel like an Indian Banyan. But Joanna and the chairs…they came much later. After I had seen umpteen re-runs of handshakes and ownerships, profits and losses, brawls and romances and heart-aches.

Eateries have an assortment of stories that brew up each day. They are fresh and yet, hackneyed. Almost similar, just told differently.

One such tale, I know of, is about Tess and Sebastian. Their first outing at Café Terrace happened fifteen years ago, on the second day after Joanna joined us, and the fifth after the wicker chairs moved in…

It was late into the night on a Saturday, and the place was brimming with people. Tess, in sanguine white, swirled up the stairs and settled down on table number twenty-six. Her hazel eyes, which she would later hide behind her dark polaroid on a star-lit night, shone resplendently. The colourful mini pendants dappled her face, which she covered with the palm of her right hand.

Table number twenty-six belonged to Joanna, who appeared instantly, ready to take the order.

“Could you get me…”

“…some croquette and stroopwafel and gewone koffie!” Sebastian sure knew the appetite of his bon vivant wife.

Joanna flashed her beautiful smile as Tess quickly settled the polaroid on her nose and nodded. Sebastian pulled up a chair and sat down, his eyes fixed on her. Tess averted his gaze, and focused on Joanna walking towards the kitchen counter. But Sebastian had eyes only for her. And then, in a flash, he pulled out a bunch of Dutch Tulips, got onto his knees, imploring his lady love to forgive him just once.

Apology has always been the quick fix tool of lovers. The moment the mercy petition was filed, sighs and gasps escaped from nearby tables, as if the entire assemblage was pleading with Tess to let it be.

I smiled away. I wasn’t new to the eccentricities of love. It plays the same song over ages and across seas; ending in crests or troughs, but with seldom many variations.

Tess caressed the tulips and the ardent lovers sat across the table, holding hands, taking vows. Making promises is a cyclic process in love. So is breaking them! The polaroid glasses were gone and the hazel eyes sparkled in bright light. The wicker chairs shone with arrogance. They were new and wanted. Joanna happily served her guests and I saw a glint in her eyes too as she cleared the happy leftovers. Love is infectious. You hear a love song and you wish to sing along; watch romance and miss your partner in crime. You always carry back love. Even as they went down the street, they left a trail of mushy notes written in the spring of love. And all was good.

Tess was a bright star when she visited us that evening. Perhaps, the flavour of the stroopwafel lingered on in her taste-buds or maybe it was Joanna’s prompt service at table number twenty-six or just the fact that I was the off-shoot of an artist’s imagination; or probably all of these combined… the two of them were frequently spotted at Café Terrace. They became an inseparable part of us, of table number twenty-six, of Joanna and of the wicker chairs. All three having made their entry into my life almost simultaneously. Their visits became more of a drill- regular, yet spaced out.

Life changes and yet it doesn’t. There wasn’t much variation in their script either. The vows, broken on another day, stayed very much in place; their text a cut, copy, paste version. Which even made me think of myself as a liaison officer, making things work over cups of koffie. Although, me says, that the more promises you make, the harder it is to keep them.

Of the things that changed, the tulips were the first to go. They dried a bit too soon, and were replaced by expensive pieces of jewellery, tickers, fragrances and what not!

And then, when the wicker chairs became a little wobbly, Sebastian stopped going down on his knees; he didn’t even look into the hazel eyes. He couldn’t have, for the glasses never came off. Just once, I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the golden orbs, but the sheen was long gone…

Last evening, they came visiting again, and it was sooner than expected. I think the promises have become more fragile than ever before. Sebastian’s face has now hardened up. Life, I say. But it is Tess’s dwindling brightness that worries me. Trust takes time to build up. It takes even longer to re-build.

Joanna looks troubled as well. She has become wary of flashing her smile across at table number twenty-six. I think she secretly wishes they choose another place. Although she earns a better tip today, she no longer clears ‘happy’ leftovers.

I am sure she reflects on love too. Notes written in the winter of love are cold and frost-bitten. You know, Joanna looks much older now. Does she carry back love? I don’t know!

The wicker chairs…well… fifteen years is a long time. Their plaited twigs have come off. It happens. You have to keep working at things to make them last long. We have failed the chairs miserably.

This morning I heard they are getting a new staff, and new paraphernalia. I might get an overhaul as well. They want happy spaces.

No Joanna, no chairs.

And table number twenty-six? What about it? Well, I think the winter of love will keep them indoor.

Meanwhile, I will look for another old story, brewing up on a new day!

(Word Count: 1001; FCA)

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56 thoughts on “WEP/IWSG February 2020- Café Terrace

  1. Hi Sonia – I loved the take on your story … clever for the painting to take the story over. I actually thought Tess was going to go off with Joanna … but she hung on with Sebastian … so many ways you could take this story … loved the way you told it … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Hillary. Thanks so much! Yes that thought did cross my mind but then I was just concentrating on the pain of love. So left it with no hope. But I do see what you mean. Thank you!

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  2. Oh, my nose wrinkled the moment Sebastian interrupted and ordered for his wife, Tess. For many, love stories that always end well are boring, but I’d like to believe, even after 15 years, that Tess could have found a sparkle again — with someone else! And I wanted more about Joanna — she seemed as worn down as the chairs. I loved the imagery and the POV of the painting. Perhaps the painting itself was a little jaded about the customers at the cafe and so many customers who lived out such predictable lives? An enjoyable read. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for adding your thoughts here. I’m so glad you got the undertone when Sebastian ordered for Tess. I wanted to immediately point it out. 1000 words doesn’t allow too many things.

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  3. This “place” has character. Loving it. What an intricate story, told completely from an outsider’s occasional view. Change really is easier to see over time. Such a shame. But the overhaul will be exciting for the Cafe.

    dolorah@booklover

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I thought this was a great story. It didn’t bother me the you didn’t give it an HEA – it told the tale of a love story over years. Personally, I thought the bold text worked well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Regulars at the cafe for 15 years and life happens to them! You inserted the details of the cafe of Joanna and the chairs with the lightest touch. I also noticed that Sebastian chose to apologise publicly – giving her no chance to hold on to her anger, in case she wasn’t ready to forgive him. I can see a great deal of subtext that keeps the story afloat.
    I too was puzzled by the lines that were in bold. The reader notices them.anyway and that change of font distracts from the writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kalpana. I’m so glad you read between the lines and so well! Yes, Sebastian choosing to apologize publicly was the undertone. Thanks!
      I do agree about the lines in bold and I’m going to keep it in mind.

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  6. A unique POV. I imagine the cafe has so many stories that the difficulty will be in choosing which one to tell next. I like the slowly fading passion at table #26, and the ebbing interest the waitress had in serving this couple. Nice build to the end and to the facelift the cafe looks forward to as we depart.

    You might catch this typo: Tess averted his (HER) gaze

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I like the technique of using the setting as the narrator- so many opportunities to point out the development of other things beyond the characters. Too bad about the wicker chairs, the failed love story seems to be a sad part of life that even the cafe has reluctantly accepted.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think it was fantastic to tell the story from the point of view of the painting. I must say that I suspect Sebastian is more than a bit of a cad.
    I am not an optimist and my theme song is “Love Stinks.” So, I must say, I don’t see things ending well for anyone except perhaps the painting. But if I may implore you, don’t give in and write something happy just because you think that’s what other people want. That would be a mistake, I think. This was so well written.
    ~cie from team netherworld~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi. Thanks. I guess we all look at life from where we stand. So yes, some would identify with my pov and some wouldn’t. But as you said I will have to be convinced myself to give this a happy ending. Thanks so much for adding your thoughts here!💐💐

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  9. Interesting take, making the setting the main character and narrator, not easy to pull off. You handled it well. However, why the bold letters for some sentences ? Lessons of life ? I find showing, inferring suggesting is often more effectif somehow. Each reader can find his own messages in a story.
    Have a pleasant spring time and lots of birthing inspiration. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Susan. Well yes show not tell. My idea was to get the café talking about life, and the inferences it has drawn. But you are right. It does come out as life lessons which may interrupt the story. Point noted, well taken. Thanks so much!💐💐

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  10. Sonia, love the personification. Never thought of approaching the tale this way, but it works. Judging by the comments, perhaps to keep everyone happy you should have included some happy snaps from other tables, but you’re writing flash here with a word limit. I love a good dark tale, and you’ve told it in quite a unique way. Well done for CAFE TERRACE!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Denise. Yes I do hear that. And now it just strikes me that I could have been hopeful towards the end with another tale or something.. But yes I do have a new perspective now. On a lighter note I’m ready with an alternative tale already in my mind!☺️☺️

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    1. Yes I do agree. I think I just made it a little too dark. Maybe in the end it could have said that table number fifteen or sixteen… And hence could have been a little cheerful. Thanks, gives me a new perspective.

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    1. Thank you Yolanda. Honestly it is exactly what I wanted to say about love..The betrayals and the broken promises. But reading everyone’s comments just made me think that maybe I could have softened a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi,
    A very sad and pessimistic tale about love. But is it really love when people become hardened by the way of life4. Just a question that runs through my mind. Being a hopeless optimist, I see love differently.
    Your storyline caught me and the theme4 had me thinking. it was for me an engaging sad story and very well written.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pat. I do see your point. Yes indeed is it really love when you let life happen. I don’t know. I keep wondering about love too. It’s different each day, isn’t it. I hope I can write something happy next time! Thanks for being here 😊😊

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