• Ejuen Armstrong

A Conversation in Brief

A flash-fiction exercise. Advice on eating cake. What can you write in ten minutes?



Elena had always loved adventure stories, so when the man started telling his she listened avidly. She’d noticed him sitting in the shadow of the little café in Kracow, where blue-checked tables were hung with images celebrating the country’s tenuous history of war and resistance. The waiter who served her cake had smelled good enough to eat, bringing with him the scents of blueberry, hazelnuts and oranges.

The man smiled as he watched her eating her cake with sensual relish. When he spoke she could hear the lilt of an Edinburgh native. “You know ... I was in this café a few years ago. Had a wee nasty accident back then.”

“What happened?”

His voice dipped low as he followed the movements of the silver spoon to rouged lips. “I've an allergy to nuts. Ate a desert that disagreed violently with me. I think it was the cake that probably had something in it …” He eyed her thick layered chocolate torte. “You should be careful.”

She deferred her next mouthful in dutiful horror. “That sounds terrifying.”

His shudder resonated with her as he recalled those moments. “Oh, it was … they worked on me for ages. Then I went into a coma and the ambulance came. They were quick; very professional. Oh aye, gave me the works. Heimlich manoeuvre, mouth to mouth and all. Deserved an award; true stars.”

Elena lowered an anxious hand moved from lips to chest. “Thank goodness you lived to tell the tale.”

The sounds of diners around them muted as the man faded into the shadows. Darkness settled in the empty café as his voice came faintly from inside the white stonewashed wall. "Och, lass, who said I lived?”

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