The Optimist

It's Indie Ink time! This is my twentieth post for the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. My prompt this week comes from a newbie in the group -- Kat. This was an interesting prompt that has me all inspired me to go read a new book. Kat's prompt will be at the end.

I gave the prompt - the toll of a bell at sunrise - to one of my favorite Tweeps to chat with on Twitter, Janani. Her response is awesome, as per the usual. Yea, she rocks. You should go check it out right now (well, maybe after you read my response, I guess!).

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He just wanted a smoothie. Just one damn smoothie. Only one. He hadn’t eaten much in days. Just crackers and toast. That was all he had in his house to eat. All he could stomach at least. Three mornings ago, he had gotten really sick. When he called work to let them know he couldn’t make it, his boss gave him an attitude and threatened to fire him. His girlfriend, or ex-girlfriend now, had come by his house the night before to pick up the last of her things. And just when he thought it couldn't get worse, he got a phone call that morning about his mom – his rock, the one person in his life who had always brought him comfort– going in to the hospital for heart problems. His sister told him he couldn't come to the hospital until he felt better.

So, three days later, when he finally started feeling a little better and had more of an appetite, he realized he needed some food. He was craving a smoothie. He never drank smoothies, but he decided he should venture out to get the one thing he craved. So he walked outside in to the Florida humidity and walked to his car where he found three parking tickets, one for each day he had been sick and hadn’t moved his car. Then, as he was driving to the smoothie shop, less than a mile away from his home, he was pulled over by an unmarked police car for not coming to a complete stop at the stop sign at the end of the street. The California Roll, something he had done for years and had never, ever been caught. He had been so grumpy with the cop that he also got a ticket for the passenger-side brake light that had been out for months.

And now! Now he had finally walked in to the smoothie shop and he was faced with this crazy menu of 100 different smoothies. The Fig Newton: Apple with fig; The Norm: bananas with strawberries; The Tutti Fruity Mango: mango with the fruit of the day; and of course, there were 97 other choices on the menu.

She was supposed to be on break, but she noticed him standing at the counter. He was pale and had scraggly, reddish hair. He was disheveled and in a daze. He looked as though he didn't feel well. Perhaps he was overwhelmed, she thought, remembering how when she first started working in the shop that the menu had overwhelmed her. She walked over to him. “Our menu can be a little intimidating,” she told him. “Can I help you decide on something?”

“Well, I actually think that I want The Norm," he responded.

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Well, not really. I just like bananas and strawberries, and I can't make up my mind. The Norm just sounds like the easiest option I guess."

"Do you want my opinion?" she asked.

"Well, why not just make me The Norm?"

"I'm happy to make it if that is what you want, but it seems as though you're not entirely convinced that The Norm will make you happy." 

"I'm not sure what will make me happy," he responded.

"So, do you want my opinion?" she pushed.

"Well, why not? Sure, I guess," he responded, reluctantly. He just wanted a smoothie. Why wouldn't she just make him The Norm? Why did she care?

“What kind of things do you like in a smoothie? Bananas and strawberries, obviously. But, what else?” she asked.

“I'm not that picky I guess. I’ve been sick, so no dairy. Maybe some fruit juice. Since you offered to help, what do you recommend?” he asked, becoming a bit short with her.

“Well, everyone who works here has their own unique smoothie on the menu. Shall I make you mine?”

“Well, okay,” he agreed. He had finally given in because he supposed it was one less thing for him to worry about that day.

He watched her as she went to work. He noticed that she treated the process as though she was an artist and was creating a masterpiece. She peeled a banana and cut it up in perfect bits and put it in the blender. She then moved onto strawberries and layered them on top of the bananas. Next she cut up part of a peach and added it. She then pulled out a container of fruit juice and poured it over the fruit. Then she added a teaspoon of a powder. “This is a blend of Vitamin C and ginseng for energy since you’ve been sick,” she told him. And finally, she put the ice in. He realized that it was actually kind of like art. Each type of fruit was layered carefully in the blender, almost as though it would never be disturbed.

And then he realized that he had stopped feeling sorry for himself. For just a moment. Just watching her took his mind off of everything else in his life. And then she turned on the blender. Each layer became one.

When it was blended to her satisfaction, she handed him the smoothie. He took a sip.

"How is it?" she asked.

“Well, this is okay, I guess. I reckon you should tell me the name in case I return and you're not here and that's what I want," he said, realizing that he had enjoyed it but he wasn't quite ready to completely admit it to her.

“It’s called The Optimist,” she said. She then pointed out the quote printed on his cup. It said: “Optimism is the first cousin of love, and it's exactly like love in three ways; it's pushy, it has no real sense of humor and it turns up where you least expect it.”

He paid for the smoothie, careful not to make too much eye contact with her, and then he left the store, realizing as he got in his car that he was actually hoping he would feel better after drinking it.

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The prompt:

Optimism is the first cousin of love, and it’s exactly like love in three ways: it’s pushy, it has no real sense of humor, and it turns up where you least expect it.