Short Story: Let’s Talk, a Coffee Break Tale from our archives

Group of women sitting on sofa and drinking wine

Let’s Talk

A Coffee Break Tale just for you

Author: Alison Carter


Share our deeper feelings? Well, it certainly wasn’t our style to do that – was it?


Your jeans are too short.” Lizzy pointed. “I can see a full inch of ankle.”

“Maybe I grew,” I said.

Lizzy put her head on one side. “If only. You’d love to be as tall as me.”

“You’d love to be as beautiful as me.”

“Shall we go?” Lizzy said, wafting an arm towards the departure gate.

“I’m not sure travelling with you was such a good plan,” I said darkly.

We were off to Florida for a forty-something girls’ reunion with Hayley, who’d made up our threesome at school.

“Hi there,” said the stewardess as we walked onto the plane. “Have a wonderful flight.” She was smiling as though I was her long-lost sister.

“Morning,” Lizzy said curtly.


‘You are just rude’

We reached our seats.

“I’ll take the window,” I said.

“You are just rude,” Lizzy said. “Take a leaf out of that stewardess’s book – be delightful for a change. I bet her jeans reach to her shoes.”

“Just sit down, will you?” I said. “I’ll help you with the seatbelt. I’ve seen you fight with a car baby seat, and lose.”

The stewardesses brought cushions and asked “How ya feeling today?” several times. The woman next to us chatted about her son.

“He’s turned his life around,” she said, laying a chubby hand on her heart. “I’m so proud of him I want to shout.”

Lizzy and I stared at the safety card.

Across the aisle, two young American men were discussing girlfriends.

“I really love Ellen’s honesty,” one said, “the way she shares.”

The other nodded. “Cherise has an inner light. Hey, I saw the same thing in you, Jack, when we met in high school.”

The first clapped him on the back. “That was a great day, buddy,” he said.

Lizzy and I stared into our drinks. These people were emotional production machines, hearts permanently on their sleeves.


Everything was ‘super’ and ‘awesome’

Hayley looked different – tanned, big-haired. I could see Lizzy staring at her teeth, which were definitely new.

“I missed you two so much,” Hayley said, tears in her eyes. She held us both together in a hug that lasted at least twenty seconds too long.

“Let’s make the next week precious,” Hayley said. I remembered her whacking me with a ruler at school, and reflected how America had changed her.

“Um, yes,” Lizzy said. “let’s.”

Hayley gushed all the way back to her enormous house. Everything, including us, was super and awesome.

After a few days, I was starting to feel I should be more demonstrative. Over here people had learned emotional maturity; they loved family and friends without reserve, and told them so, whereas Lizzy and I, for instance, ran our friendship with sniping and comedy. Lizzy is a hilarious person.

We were clearly getting something wrong. All that support she’d given me – propping me up through infertility and redundancy; the hours I’d sat with her while she raged about Dan’s affair or cried about her daughter’s illness – we were bottling up our feelings!

“Lizzy,” I said in Hayley’s vast kitchen. “I’m glad you still live down the road.”

“So you can borrow my clothes?”

I coughed. “No, so… I’m just glad.”

Lizzy blushed. “Yeah. Ditto.”

I put out my arms stiffly to hug her, and she moved awkwardly into them.

“That is wonderful!”

Hayley was in the doorway. Lizzy and I sprang apart.

“We must all cherish,” Hayley cried. “Say, why don’t the three of us make jewellery together to commemorate this moment and all the love and support that we have shared? Huh?”


Love and Support?

When Hayley had gone to buy craft supplies, Lizzy and I sat on her porch, three vacant chairs between us.

“Love and support,” I said eventually.

“Plenty,” Lizzy said. “A stack.”

I sniffed. “Maybe we’ll just park that.”


Silence. Insects chirruped. I felt good.

“That top drains your colour,” I said.

“With your ham fists,” Lizzy said, “you’ll never be able to string beads.”


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Karen Byrom

My coffee mug says "professional bookworm" which sums me up really! As commissioning fiction editor on the magazine, I love sharing my reading experience of the latest books, debut authors and more with you all, and would like to hear from you about your favourite books and authors! Email me