Sweet Carolina, Part I

by Scalzi
originally published at 03:56PM on Wednesday, March 07, 2007

First off, know that I hate coffee.

What’s more, I hate what coffee shops have done to coffee. Say what you will about the stuff, at least coffee has character. A bitter, nasty character, yes. But character nonetheless—character that gets emasculated when it’s turned into some frothy mocha half-caf monstrosity designed to be sucked down by wanna-be writers and real estate agents. I don’t like coffee, but I pity it for what coffee shops have made of it.

So, you ask, if I hate coffee so much, and hate what it’s become even more, why am I waiting in line in a coffee shop, $3.15 in hand for a piccolo-sized Mochatatic Blast? The answer is separated from me by two customers and a register and, I suspect, entire genres of popular music. Her name is Carolina, she’s the coffee barrista, and she hasn’t the slightest idea that she’s the reason I suck down overpriced, humiliated bean water three times a day.

Let me tell you about the first time I saw her, and how this madness all began…



  • from Scalzi:

    For everyone who reads this piece—the idea here is to have you folks write a sequel Ficlet; that is, to pick up the story from where it’s been left off. And then when you’ve written yours, perhaps someone else will pick up where you left off, and so on.

    Have fun!

  • from StrugglingWriter:

    Very nice. Many possibilities to where it could go.

  • from Nick Stump:

    Lost my first draft. Damn.

  • from Stacey Franchise:

    I probably should have looked a little harder to see if someone had already picked up the thread here before I started adding to the story… my bad.

    Is there some way you/I could erase that?

  • from Scalzi:

    Stacey, you’re perfectly free to write your own sequel—you don’t have to follow anyone else’s direction.

  • from Dossy:

    Scalzi, you didn’t leave much room for prequels, did you. :-)

  • from Justin Thenikov Tyme, Jr.:

    I wrote a prequel to see if I could.

    What happens if a string of prequels and sequels wraps around and connects? ficlets.com explodes? That would rock.

    Thanks for this interesting hook!

  • from Coz:

    Ok… I wrote my sequel… next writer up, please?

  • from Nick:

    I’ll leave the prequels and sequels to finer wordsmiths than me, but I did wish to state that this is an excellent ficlet for launching other ficlets from. Open-ended and semi-directed, one could conceivably go anywhere with this piece. Brilliant.

  • from Tygertrot:

    You’ve got a talent for description – “humiliated beanwater”? That line has me about as close as I’ll ever get to rolling on the floor laughing.

  • from Alexa ♥:

    I love the character’s complexity and the openness of the Ficlet.

  • from Metaphoric Spurs:

    You could have described me. I despise the bitter brew.