Brian Henry exercise number three – Cup of tea assignment

Okay, I’ve got one more bit of writing from the Oakville Brian Henry plotting workshop to share today – the assignment was to write something about characters coming to a decision while doing something mundane – such as preparing and drinking a cup of tea. I went in a slightly different direction for it. Please, let me know your thoughts, I love getting feedback on little snippets of writing like this!


The file organizer box sitting next to the videotape shelves was the logical place to start.

Of course, it wasn’t as if the shelves held videotapes anymore. Who had videotapes these days? VCRs have finally gone the way of the eight-track player. So there was a remarkable assortment of burned optical disks, paperback books, USB cables, DVD box sets, and scrap paper on those shelves. There might even be some receipts on those shelves, and I’d need to look through those if it came to that. But the file organizer box was first.

I sat down in the armchair and opened up the box on my lap. Twenty different labelled pockets, all stuffed full of receipts. So much for the paperless economy, huh? Credit card receipts, utility receipts, bank receipts, miscellaneous receipts that defied description, and… there it was. Investment receipts.

Investment receipts showing ninety thousand dollars that I’d sent to the fund people. Day before yesterday, it had probably been worth a hundred grand. Today? Who the hell knew.

As I organized the receipts for the funds I had through work, the investments I had with the chequing bank, the special investment opportunity from the online company and the government savings bonds, I also sorted through things in my mind. How Kristen and I had finally decided to give notice at our jobs, pool our savings, and open a little pub in the village. We’d already talked with a small business advisor, and spoken with the owner of the old Indian restaurant building that had been closed for two years. Tomorrow was the day that we’d been going to head down to the bank.

And then, this morning, I saw an item on the television news about a ‘substantial correction’ in the markets.

As I was finished sorting through the receipts from the organizer, Kristen came into the living room. I’d been so busy with what I was doing that I hadn’t even heard her moving around in the spare bedroom. “So, how did you do?” she asked.

“I think that there are a few updates from the bank fund that I need to go through the hanging file folders for, but otherwise this all looks in order,” I told her. “You?”

“Well, I’ve sorted through the most promising shoeboxes – actually, one was a box that used to have computer speakers in it, but you know what I mean.” She sighed. “Maybe only 60 percent so far, but that’s enough to give me an idea.”

“How are you feeling?” I asked.

“Like it would have been a really good idea to pull our down payment and start-up money earlier in the week, but hey. Had we but known.”

“Yeah. And what do you think we should do now?”

“Pull out everything that’s risky,” Kristen said, slapping some papers down on the table for emphasis. “There may be a rebound, but we’re not in a position to gamble on that. We haven’t really lost that much yet – your government bonds are still solid, and some of the loan funds will probably be okay. And then we carry on. We’ve still got enough for all of our start-up costs, the way I figure it, we’ve just lost a bit of safety margin. But we haven’t lost the dream yet, unless we give up on it.”

I paused, considering all of that. Looking up into Kristen’s round face I kept thinking about how much I loved her, how much I wanted to make her happy and keep her safe. “Are you sure about that?” I asked. “I know what you mean about the power of the dream, but… but it was a long shot to start with, it just got tougher, and if we lose – we could lose everything we have.” A pause. “Except not each other, I hope.”

“Cute,” Kristen stepped around the table towards the other chair in the room, and then changed her mind, going around the other way to meet me and pull me up out of the chair, so that we were standing face to face, holding hands. “I’m only sure if you’re sure. You’re the rock here, you’re my solid ground, and we won’t succeed in this if you believe in it too. I won’t blame you for it – when the solid rock says to stay put, the smart thing to do is stay put.”

“Just call me the rolling stone,” I told her. “Because where you go, I will follow.”

One Response to Brian Henry exercise number three – Cup of tea assignment

  1. Donna Hole says:

    Way cool. Interesting how you built the process; where to start, what to go through, a bit of backstory to ground the reader in setting, then slowly filling in the context.

    This couple is sweet, and I’m hoping for them to succeed in their business. I like how they’re not really panicking. Nervous enough to look closely at their situation and decisions, but not yet willing to give up before they’ve totally began.

    This is a good pep talk – much need for me right now.

    Thanks for sharing it. I think you did well showing the process. Making tea may have been boring – this was interesting.



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