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Coming of Age Contemporary Fiction

Ria here. I got this plot bunny in the middle of the night and it wouldn’t stop pressing me to write, So here it is! Not my best, but I’m pretty satisfied with the way it turned out. Dedicated to Biblio_phile, my favorite swan princess. Check out her work if you haven’t already — it won’t disappoint! Happy birthday, Amaya!

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The life of a gourmet chef is harder than I expected.

The heat of the kitchens is impossible, the customers are a pain, and the constant pressure to deliver the finest items breathes down my back all day. Granted, it’s a privilege to work for Mr. Sherman. He says I make better pastries and drinks than anyone he’s ever met, and that praise earned me a spot as head of the breakfast counter at the renowned Café de l'Ouest. He’s much nicer than most employers and allows me to travel internationally to taste new things. Sure, I have to write a report when I come back from my travels, but for someone who loves traveling and excels in the art of cooking? It’s worth it. 

Well, sometimes. My job allows me to experience different cultures, meet new people, and practice my hobby, which I love. Yet, there are times where I absolutely do not want to go to wherever I'm supposed to but am forced to anyway. Like now.

And then there are instances where the food provided is just gross. Like now, again. The Salted Caramel Frappuccino with Cinnamon Clusters — whatever that is — is nothing more than a blend of melted ice, milk, a shot of caramel, and enough cinnamon to make my eyes water. I don’t have the heart to leave, even though I'd hightail back home the moment I find an opportunity to do so.

But I can't. Not when Mr. Sherman specifically told me to try this shop. He even arranged a first-class round trip for me, adorned with a five-star hotel, exclusive spa access, and a personal butler. 

I sigh. He’s going to be disappointed that the well-known Coffee Salon of Nashville can’t make a decent frappe. A fall drink should warm the insides without overdoing it, but this mess is too cold with too much spice to even be called a “fall drink.” 

As I stand up, a young waiter comes over to take my drink. “Everything good?” he asks. I grimaced. This guy kept shooting me sly looks and didn’t know the meaning of personal space. I pull out my trademark sarcasm and offer a tight-lipped smile and a nod. “Of course. Thank you for the service. The drinks were wonderful.”

His smug grin makes me want to hurl. “Oh, I knew it. We are known for our signature Salted Caramel Frappuccino with Cinnamon Clusters. People come from all over the world to have it. Oh, dear me. I suppose you already know that — after all, you’re one of them.”

I roll my eyes internally. Some people simply don’t understand sarcasm. I decide to give him the benefit of the doubt and plaster a fake smile on my face. “Mm-hmm. Of course. It was great.”

I pick up my purse and leave before he can reply, purposely leaving my barely touched drink on the table. Another minute with a guy like him would make me want to gouge my eyes out. Ugh. Some people are simply atrocious to be around. 

My fast pace and furious muttering under my breath attract curious glances from many strangers. I glare at them and keep walking. Seriously, what happened to basic decency? Can’t parents teach their children that staring is plain rude? I shake my head in disapproval. 

A booming woman’s voice snaps me out of my reverie. “Café of Bliss is open! With new flavors! Special for the season!”

I have to resist the pressing urge to take my purse and whack the obnoxious woman on the head. Why can’t some people understand that normal humans (like me) want some space and solitude? Sure, it’s downtown Nashville, but some peace and quiet shouldn’t be so hard to get!

Then I realize what she just said. Café. Open. Special flavors for the season. Bingo! This place better brew a normal drink, or Mr. Sherman is getting an earful from me.

The sound of jingling bells above me makes me groan. Since when is the mundane act of getting a coffee so hard, and so loud? I try to smile as I order. The woman at the counter smiles sympathetically at me, and I want to slap her so bad I almost laugh. I don’t need sympathy! Especially from Nashville folk.

“One small — uh, I’ll take whatever special you have today. I assume it’s the Cinnamon Almond Milk Macchiato?”

She nods. “Yup. It’s a-ma-zing, believe me. I run through at least three every day of the season.”

I inhale deeply. One stroke of luck in the unluckiest day ever. “I’ll have a small size, please.”

“Alrighty! Coming right up!” Her cheery mood is giving me a headache and I plop myself onto one of the chairs to avoid replying. 

I try not to scream when the drink comes up. This was a drink? It looked like a bunch of brown specks floating around in almond milk. I don’t bother trying it — the look of it makes me want to vomit. 

“Anything else, ma’am?” the waitress taps her pen on her notepad. The idea of tearing it from her clutch and shredding it almost makes me smile, but at least someone around this place should have decent manners. 

“No, thank you,” I tell her. She smiles and rushes to the back. I take the opportunity to slip out of the shop. Another moment in there, and I’d have to go to jail by the end of the day for murder. I can not understand how people can apparently “run through at least three every day” of that offensive mix of grossness. 

Just when the day couldn’t get any worse, I happen to catch a glimpse of a hanging sign from a smaller shop on the corner. My heart stops and my breath catches. No. I swore I wouldn’t come back here. 

Voices and memories hit me with the force of a pound of bricks. I sag onto the ground and lean against the shop front. Tears blur my vision and the world around me ceases to exist as the memories I’ve successfully kept at bay attack me full-force.

“Come on, hurry! The shop’s open! They have our favorite!” George, only 5 years old.

I had to wake up to my little brother jumping on me and poking my bare shoulder every day the entire autumn season.

“Alright, alright, come down, you two. We’ll head there in just a few.” Mum laughs.

Five minutes became thirty because Dad kept forgetting things. First his wallet, then his glasses, then his phone, then the car keys.

“Let’s see who gets there first!” Dad’s deep voice echoes. 

I won that race. George said I cheated.

“Gosh, this is great! Wish they had this year-round.” Mum sighs in pleasure, her eyes closed.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes were a favorite of the girls in the family. Dad and George preferred hot cocoa, but Mum and I thought that was too ordinary.

“Hey, you have me! That’s better than this stuff!” Dad, always one for flirty banter.

Dad always pretended to be jealous of anything that held Mum’s attention for more than a minute, except for George and me.

“Ewww, stop kissing! That’s stinky!” George was so small, only his head peeked over the table’s edge.

I joined him, but I secretly loved how affectionate the two were with each other even after years of being married.

Mum and Dad’s laugh — his rich with a lovely timbre, hers a sweet melodic note. 

All of our laughs could create a band, they were so different. 

George’s childish squeals. Dad tugging on my ponytail. Mum nudging my foot under the table.

My family trying to keep introvert extraordinaire — me — from spacing out. I wish I spent more time with them.

Then screams. Gunshots. My dad, falling lifeless to the floor. George’s bloody face. Mum getting hit by the falling ceiling. Me managing to get out. 

A nightmare turned into reality. 

Living alone. Learning of the organized massacre that took place. A protest against some tax thing. Scrapping work at the local animal shelter, barely managing to get into basic community college courses, and getting hired by Mr. Sherman.

The rest was history. 

“All right there, miss?” A voice startles me out of my thoughts. I quickly wipe my face and glare at the imposing man. 

“What’s it to you?” I snap. I have had it today. 

“Whoa, there. I’m sorry. Let’s start this again. I’m Rick. I work at the coffee shop you’re sitting in front of. I was just curious why such a pretty lady like you is sitting all alone here. Crying, I presume? Oh, darn. That was insensitive. I apologize. Why don’t you come in and have a drink? It’s on the house.”

I sniffle. Oh, this was so embarrassing! “Is the coffee real coffee, or is it just chunks of mystery who-knows-what floating around in a pool of expired milk? If that’s the case, not a chance. I’ve had a terrible day, and I’m not in the mood for some nice chit chat.”

He chuckles. “I can tell. Shoot — don’t kill me for that, okay? No, we serve real stuff here. The things they have down the road? I tried it once and never looked back. Nasty.”

I eye him. “You better not be saying this for business’s purposes. I swore I’d never come back to this store. So now, you better find a good reason. Or I’ll personally have the police set after you.”

“Oh, no. I promise. I’ll even whip up a batch for myself, then we’ll both have to suffer if it’s bad. K? And, don’t mind me asking, are you… are you hesitant about entering because of the — you know, the thing that happened here years ago?”

I shoot to my feet. “That,” I growl, “is not your business. Keep your nose in your life, leave it out of mine. Or else —”

“Okay, okay! Sorry! Just trying to make conversation! Since that didn’t work out, let’s go in.”

I freeze at the doorway. It looks the same. Same tile design, same portraits. A wave of nostalgia hits me and I almost lose it in front of him (again). I manage to keep myself in one piece until I see the new addition to the back wall.

I let out a sob. “May I?” 

He nods. I can see pity in his eyes, but it’s laced with understanding. I allow my fingers to trail over the photos. “Are these all of them?”

“Yup. We had family and friends send it pictures. Y’know, to create a memorial of sorts.”

“This is George,” I whisper. I have no idea what devil possessed me, but once that dam cracked, it came crashing down. My mouth blurts out everything before I can process what I’m doing. “My baby brother. He was five. He liked his dinosaur so much he took it everywhere. See? It’s in the background.”

He comes to stand behind me. “He’s beautiful.” 

“And this woman? My mother. People say I look like her, but I have my father’s eyes. She wanted to live in Australia someday. And work in the zoo, since she could see the koalas every day that way.”

“She sounds lovely. Koalas are amazing.”

“Uh-huh. This is my father. He — he hated koalas with a passion. Said it took up too much of my mother’s heart, space that he should have occupied.”

He snorts. “I can totally see myself doing that someday. That’s probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard, and yet the most logical.”

I nod. “That’s him. Absolutely mental, but the wisest man on Earth.” My voice is (thankfully) a lot more stable now. I think it has to do with my facing my past demons after holding back for so long. Somehow, I know my family’s deaths won’t haunt me as much anymore. It’s a nice feeling, to be free of what chained you to the trauma you faced in your past.

I straighten my shoulders and take a breath. “Well. With the elephant in the room taken care of, why don’t I get something? A Pumpkin Spice Latte, please.”

He smirks. “Back to business, aye? Well then. Give me a minute.”

And I do. When I see the drink, I almost burst into tears in sheer happiness. It’s actually, really, a proper drink. With the perfect consistency, beautiful foam, elegant drizzle — it’s just how I remember.

My hands tremble as I lift the cup to my mouth. I can almost imagine my family around me. In a way, they are. They’re watching over me, all the time. 

With that in mind, I close my eyes and allow the scents of pumpkin, cinnamon, and a hint of vanilla fill me. I haven’t felt like this in forever. I can’t believe I lived without this for so long.

So when the time comes for me to write a report on the shop, I happily sign off with my signature flourish.

The place is stunning. My favorite aspect of the shop? The mural on the back wall. My favorite drink? The Pumpkin Spice Latte. If I had to describe it in two words, the only thing that fits is this:

Just Right. 

Best, 

Goldie

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October 16, 2020 06:41

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113 comments

Hi Adrienne!! I just read your story, and it was a very interesting read! I think you did a great job building the scenes and plot in this short story. Great job! :)

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☆ Ariadne ☆
00:27 Oct 19, 2020

Oh, thanks. I'm glad you liked it!

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Hello there!! I just want to appreciate you for writing such a well written story for this prompt!! Great job! :)

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☆ Ariadne ☆
00:41 Oct 21, 2020

Thanks! I'm so glad you liked it!

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No problem!! You deserved it for writing such an amazing story! :)

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☆ Ariadne ☆
02:45 Nov 13, 2020

That's sweet, thank you. :)

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☆ Ariadne ☆
06:42 Oct 16, 2020

So, what do you guys think? NGL, I only did this for Amaya’s birthday. It’s not my best, but I’m pretty happy about it considering it’s something I scrapped in a few hours. It’s kind of a modern twist to Goldilocks (Just right?). I’ve always wondered what on earth her family was doing while she trespassed on the bears’ property, so I wanted to put that in. It kinda takes away from the overall story, but oh well.

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R. K.
13:13 Oct 16, 2020

I'm here, my kindred spirit :) Amaya is going to love it! I'm happy you went along with the fairytale twist we were talking about. I loved how nostalgic and heartwarming this was; Your signature voice screams though Goldie's voice and you both share that "fierce Ria flair". Some points while you can still edit: "breath down my back" should be "breathe" "earned me the head of" could be "earned me a spot as head of" "famous Café de l'Ouest" try another word for famous like renowned or popular Overall lovely world and characters!

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☆ Ariadne ☆
23:27 Oct 16, 2020

Thanks for the suggestions! I hate this one, so any tips on how to make it better are appreciated! :)

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Mary Jo Fortes
05:31 Oct 17, 2020

"Hate" is so harsh!!! WE are our own worst critics!! I made the mistake of drinking water while reading--big mistake! I should have known you'd throw something shocking at me... and you did. I damn near choked when the shots fired/ blood came!! I knew you'd make me FEEL, but I was shooting for warm and fuzzy fall feelings! I LOVE that you surprise me... and that you make me feel things I'm not prepared for, and I don't necessarily WANT to feel, but have to admit, you do a great job of it! So, please rethink your HATRED of this piece...

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☆ Ariadne ☆
02:07 Oct 19, 2020

I agree! I don't exactly HATE this piece, I just know I could have done a lot better. I did it within an hour - from drafting, to editing, to revising, to redoing parts of it. It doesn't help that I'm a huge perfectionist. Oh gosh, I'm sorry about that! Thank you for the compliment - I try to write things with lots of deeper emotions than what can be seen at the surface. I feel having additional layers to not only the character, but the plot, the setting, and everything really, is super important when writing a story. Oh, thanks! Goldie's...

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Mary Jo Fortes
04:19 Oct 19, 2020

Voila and Brava!! No apologies needed--I LOVE that you have so many layers to your stories and that you surprise me as the reader!! It's really great stuff!! Lessons learned--I made sure not to eat or drink anything, reading your apocalyptic piece after that... and, sure enough...LOL You do a fabulous job of taking from real-life but putting a fictitious spin on it then--something I have yet to master. Love that you used yourself to base this character on (loosely)--I like her even more now!! 😊

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Rayhan Hidayat
12:27 Oct 16, 2020

“All of our laughs could create a band, they were so different.” <—- I really really like this. Kinda touching, but also just plain good description. And yay, new story! 😄 A bit of a morbid Goldlilocks retelling, but I think it makes sense that a girl who steals porridge from bears has a messed up past haha. You nailed what you set off to do, anyway—she has demons, confronts them in the end, and wins, with the pumpkin spice as the perfect analogy. Awesome job! 😙 I think my only suggestion is to hint at her struggles a little earlier on...

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☆ Ariadne ☆
23:29 Oct 16, 2020

Ooh, you're totally right! Fixing that up right away! Thank you for the compliments, BTW.

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Rayhan Hidayat
02:04 Oct 17, 2020

Always a pleasure! And back at ya ;) How are you feeling about this week's prompts? I think they're all pretty darn good. I've got my eye on that romance one...

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Orenda .
10:30 Oct 16, 2020

awww this was so heartwarming. I. LOVE. KOALAS. CUTEEE. THEY. ARE. they always remind of Dash from Zootopia, lmao. I hope you write more of this. It was really well done despite you saying it wasn't that good. 🙃

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Amany Sayed
14:04 Oct 16, 2020

B-But Dash is a sloth...

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☆ Ariadne ☆
20:24 Oct 16, 2020

I literally had the same thought process as Amany. Isn't his name Flash, though? Thanks for the read! :)

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Rayhan Hidayat
02:01 Oct 17, 2020

LMFAO this whole thread is cracking me up xD Isn't Dash that kid from the Incredibles??

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☆ Ariadne ☆
02:53 Oct 17, 2020

Yea, I think so? The one with the lovely blonde hair? It's ironic how he's being compared with a sloth... 🤣

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Rayhan Hidayat
03:13 Oct 17, 2020

Ah yes he does have lovely CGI locks doesn't he? xD

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Orenda .
10:18 Oct 18, 2020

HOLY SHIT, I GOT EVERYTHING WRONG 🤣🤣 then what does Nick say? something along this line, "flash, flash, hundred yard dash." Aaah, lmao he's FLASH. I'm such a dumbass XD

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Orenda .
14:09 Oct 16, 2020

lmaooo....you're so correct. I forgot 🤣🤣

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Lani Lane
23:32 Oct 18, 2020

Geez! This had such an unexpected, emotional twist in the middle. Really gives reason to the narrator's negativity, and makes the story so much more layered. Fantastic work. "He even arranged a first-class round trip for me, adorned with a five-star hotel, exclusive spa access, and a personal butler." Damn, sign me up. :D Some quick edits: -and the constant pressure to deliver the finest items breathe down my back all day. Since "constant pressure" is singular, "breathe" should be "breathes" -Sure, I have to write a report when I c...

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☆ Ariadne ☆
00:35 Oct 19, 2020

Thanks! Yes, IKR! I need a boss like that someday... Thank you so so so much for the edits!!! I have fixed those parts - thank you for pointing those out! I will! You do the same, alright? I'm looking forward to reading more of your work. Oh, and congratulations on being newly married!

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Lani Lane
14:28 Oct 20, 2020

Of course! And Thank you so so much!!! Unfortunately had to move the big wedding to next year due to covid but we had a private elopement on a mountain so it was still a blast :)

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☆ Ariadne ☆
17:34 Oct 20, 2020

Aww. I'm sorry. At least you had fun!

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Lani Lane
19:47 Oct 20, 2020

Aw you are too kind! :) Thank you, Ria!!

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B. W.
14:17 Oct 16, 2020

I really enjoyed this story and i'm glad that you made a new story ^^ I'm also glad that it was based off goldilocks and the three bears and that it was for a friend on here. I'm still terrible at giving advice honestly but there's some people in the comments who have already pointed out the small errors, so i guess i'd just agree with them. I'm going to give this story a 10/10 :)

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☆ Ariadne ☆
17:39 Oct 16, 2020

Wow, a 10/10? Gee, thanks!

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B. W.
17:49 Oct 16, 2020

Yep, it was really great and you deserved it ^^ alright thanks, remember to leave some feedback

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09:22 Oct 16, 2020

Aww its so Awesome but I agree with Vayd. LOVE KOALASSSSSS

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☆ Ariadne ☆
20:24 Oct 16, 2020

Haha, me too!!! Glad you liked it! :)

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02:31 Oct 17, 2020

:)

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Dalyane Deblois
13:33 Oct 17, 2020

Hi Adrienne! As always, you do not disappoint! This story is so great, the beginning is interesting and you bring us to understand Goldie's crankiness. The end is just perfect and heart-warming! You always put so much emotions in your stories, I love it! You managed to show a deep story of a woman with a hard past by using coffee shops that are first bad, then "just right" as she says. She is an interesting character! I really can't wait to read more of your stories, you are a very good writer, and also very good at showing emotion through ...

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☆ Ariadne ☆
04:25 Oct 18, 2020

Thanks, Dalyane! I'm so glad you liked it! I love Goldie's character too. She was just so fun to write with her pessimistic nature. I'm heading over to read your latest ASAP!! :)

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Dalyane Deblois
13:39 Oct 18, 2020

You're welcome! And thanks in advance, it's actually Sierra's and Cyrus's coffee date!:)

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Amaya .
23:03 Oct 16, 2020

ADRIENNE. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. THAT WAS SO SWEET OF YOU TO DEDICATE IT TO ME!!!! I'm literally gonna start crying rn thank you so much WHO AGREES THAT THESE WEEKS PROMPTS ARE FIRE!!!!!! Like OH. MY. GOD. I am so excited. I already know I'm doing the ghost one and the manor house one.

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☆ Ariadne ☆
23:15 Oct 16, 2020

Aww, I'm so glad!

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B. W.
17:04 Oct 16, 2020

Heya, I actually just made a new story a couple minutes ago ^^ could you please check out "a strange place" and leave some feedback?

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Orenda .
15:28 Oct 16, 2020

HOLY FREAKING POOP, THIS WEEK'S PROMPTS ARE LITTTTTT!

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15:09 Oct 16, 2020

Hey! Remember love triangle? I made it into a story, and its out! Mind seeing it?

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15:09 Oct 16, 2020

Hey! Remember love triangle? I made it into a story, and its out! Mind seeing it?

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☆ Ariadne ☆
16:57 Oct 16, 2020

I love how you turned something like that into a story. Good for you!

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17:13 Oct 16, 2020

Thanks!!

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15:09 Oct 16, 2020

Hey! Remember love triangle? I made it into a story, and its out! Mind seeing it?

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Rease Hunter
06:49 Oct 16, 2020

Wow, based on Goldilocks and the 3 bears, right. Nice story, you should really write a novel! -Rease H.

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☆ Ariadne ☆
23:30 Oct 16, 2020

Maybe someday? Thanks for the read! :)

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Rease Hunter
01:21 Oct 17, 2020

Thanks, but I really think you'd be a GREAT author! I LOVE all of your stories. They are like HEAVEN! Also, you're welcome. PS: Thank you for commenting on my story and also liking it. I truly appreciate it! :)

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☆ Ariadne ☆
01:31 Oct 17, 2020

Thanks! Np!

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Spencer Steeves
15:25 Oct 21, 2020

Wow, I wasn't expecting that twist. Surely, you caught me off guard, but in a pleasant manner. The description of the drinks before coming to the Coffee Shop of Repressed Memories was stunning, and her attitude had me chuckling. Then, you threw in that wrench and made a well-rounded, wonderful character. I adored the parents and little George, and as I read, I experienced the fond annoyance that comes with looking back on those loved ones you lost. I feel that reading this tale has enriched my life in some small way.

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☆ Ariadne ☆
18:09 Oct 21, 2020

I love that - "the Coffee Shop of Repressed Memories" is a fabulous name for it! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the feedback!

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Charles Stucker
06:00 Oct 20, 2020

I don’t have the heart to leave, even though I'd hightail back home the moment I find an opportunity to do so.- I'll hightail - everything else is present tense. This is good. Gets a little too backgroundy for my tastes, but you've seen enough of my stuff to know I like literal blood on the floor. Wait, you do have blood, in the flashback. Guess this one has everything. And it does. It has the tension, the unresolved issue which the protagonist deals with, and a good denouement.

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☆ Ariadne ☆
18:46 Oct 20, 2020

Oh! I totally glanced over that. Thank you for pointing it out! I won't be able to change that here anymore, but I will take note of that on my end. Haha, I can tell you do! And thank you, I'm glad you feel that way. Congratulations on almost finishing your WIP! I'm still stuck at the beginning of mine.

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Charles Stucker
21:05 Oct 20, 2020

Don't try to get the beginning perfect unless you've already got two or three finished manuscripts. The biggest mistake I made, which I continued for fifteen years, was trying to get everything right at the start. I only finished when I had an idea grab me by the throat and force me to continue all the way to the end. I threw out almost all of it in the rewrite, but just having an entire (wretched) manuscript FINISHED gave me the confidence to write several more. Save rewriting for after you finish the first draft. Only reread if you wonder ...

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Laiba M
23:27 Oct 16, 2020

I love the story, Ria!! I especially liked the part describing the Mom and Dad's laughs :)

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☆ Ariadne ☆
23:31 Oct 16, 2020

Thank you! I liked that part too. :)

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Laiba M
23:38 Oct 16, 2020

No problem~

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B. W.
20:34 Oct 21, 2020

Heyyy, who were you talking about? I was reading the comment thread about someone else who could help me with my weird romantic thing, though i don't know who you were talking about.

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