"Bitter" is one of the August Writing Challenge entries that was chosen to be a featured story.


I sat in a cafe, unaware of what time the clock read or how many glasses of iced coffee I had consumed since sitting down. My head buried in a poetry book I found online and had since had delivered to my door step, I smiled at the way the author talked about mirrors and time passing and childhood. I pictured her thumbing through the newspaper or dictionary and highlighting words, thinking, “Well maybe I could turn this into a poem.”

It was so stereotypically poetic, and I loved the taste of a bitter human who could never accept growing up. It seemed almost laughable, the way she held onto all of that teen angst. Then again, I could only imagine how I would be when I was older.

Since only a few people sat at the seven tables scattered throughout the cafe, every time I finished a drink the barista would automatically bring me another one. It had become our own little routine. The cold drink would be placed in front of me — dark and inviting. It was irresistibly bitter and every time I took a sip I bit my lip with the utmost delight. The first coffee that was brought out came with: “Would you like cream, milk, or sugar?” I did not.

Unlike most kids, I never liked sweet things, and I had always prided myself in that concept. I held onto it as something that made me unique, like how I thought of the girl who taught me how to run my fingers through a candle’s flame when I was five. She was different, in the best way, the way that made her (and me) invincible to fire. I dream of the taste of dandelion greens and green tea instead of chocolate cake. Although that does mean I’m relatively healthy on the sugar spectrum, it would be considered abnormal for me to have any less than five coffees a day.

The bell on the front door jingled as an angry, hurried looking business woman rushed in, yelling at someone in Spanish over the phone. I watched as she pointed to a croissant and barked an order for a frappuccino, then storming out without buying anything upon hearing that they didn’t sell blended drinks. I smiled.

A girl sitting at the table closest to me laughed quietly and shook her head. I hadn’t noticed that she was there. She stood up and walked over to the front counter. The girl wore big, black-rimmed glasses and a brown dress the color of my coffee. Her long curly hair matched my drink as well. She bought a cranberry orange scone and began walking back towards our tables, but turned towards mine instead of hers. “She’s a terrible poet.” She gestured towards my book.

“She whines a lot,” I responded.

The girl sat down. “She’s just bitter,” she said.




Jesse Turetsky

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