In the crowd, all alone

Colourful lampshades

Image: Pixabay


I struggle up onto the tall padded bench, indulging my instinct to have my back to the wall, as if I’m a fugitive, needing to keep a sharp eye on the exits. My clumsy attempts – one, two – to take a seat must make me seem either too infirm to be drinking in a trendy high street coffee shop or like an independently minded toddler, determined to scale the promontory of their highchair alone. I’m not sure which is worse.

I regret buying the hot chocolate the moment I taste it – too sweet, too glutinous – though I know I’ll still drink it down to the muddy swill at the bottom. I’ve paid for it, after all.

Classical music plays over the sound system. It’s Baroque, pastoral, calming, and makes me think of hillsides and floating on a wide, softly rolling river, the metallic flash of a kingfisher. Classy lift music.

Stylistically, the café’s a mix of country manor kitchen (scrubbed down tables, black and white tiled floor, plain metal light fittings) and granny’s sitting room (chintz armchairs, floral lampshades with tassels – over stuffed cushions). It’s a historical pic n mix, a time travellers’ grab bag of interior decor. Nothing goes together so everything does seems to be the theory.

I watch a group of workmen on their break. They sit in a circle, each slumped in one of the chintzy armchairs, muddy boots on a Persian style rug. Granny won’t like that, I think, then remember there is no granny. Each of the men is scanning his phone, watching YouTube, reading Facebook. They’re incongruous amid the standard lamps, shelves littered with old fashioned weighing scales and musty books glued to the shelves to stop them from being stolen.

There’s a family sitting by the window – grandmother, daughter, grandson – each one staring out into the street, trapped by their own thoughts. They sit together, but each one is stranded, unable to connect. I’m intrigued, but look away, an intruder.

I swallow the last, sugary grains of hot chocolate and wish I hadn’t. I head for the door and though the day’s cold and grey, it feels warmer and more welcoming than inside.





9 thoughts on “In the crowd, all alone

  1. I love this. I was inside with the speaker, experiencing all the details. I can understand feeling alone in the crowd. Sometimes choking. 🙂 Great story ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Annie! So nice to here from you. Hope you feel better for your time away. Yes, it was a bit of a depressing morning, but I was cheered by sitting in the cafe and finding something to write about. That so often helps 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. All the best on your CampNaNo! I am torn between the NaPoWriMo or the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I am inclined to go with the latter because I’ll get to write in forms other than poetry. That is, if I have the time to do it in April – although I got to write while I was away so I could just schedule many of them when the time comes. 🙂 I promise myself I will go on my own pace, and I don’t have to feel guilty if I don’t post every day… So we shall see 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. A to Z of blogging sounds ideal. Yep, it’s all a real juggle to get that balance right, isn’t it? Good luck with whichever challenge you decided to go for and happy writing 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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