Writing Prompt: A Screaming Stranger

A random character in a busy coffee shop. 
All of a sudden a stranger starts yelling at their face.
Describe the character's reaction within 10 minutes.
Source: Udemy Course "Writing Mastery: Foundations of Fiction" by Jessica Brody

This is the edited version but feel free to give pointers.

A psychotherapist got screamed at by a stranger in a coffee shop

              “Doctor Corin, your next client just called to cancel her appointment. The next one will be at half past three,” Leticia told him as he stepped out of his office. She was in the process of filing and would have gone directly back to it except he continued to stare at her.

              “Leti, you may address me as Gene when it’s just the two of us, ” Dr. Gene Corin reminded her as he tapped his slender fingers at her desk. He looked slightly distracted at the flower arrangement behind her. “I think I will go and check out that newly opened coffee shop on the corner street you mentioned. I will be back before 3.”

              “Very well, Doctor Cor—”


              “Doc– G-Gene. I hope you’ll find it relaxing.”

              He gave her a reassuring smile.


Photo by Elizabeth Tsung on Unsplash

              The coffee shop was buzzing with interminable chatter and lively music as Dr. Corin entered.
His eyes swiftly drilled down the menu before placing his order. He then walked over and leaned at the counter watching the various people around him from the pimply young man frothing milk to the petite young woman skillfully crafting image on the coffee using the frothed milk. There is a group of young ladies gossiping in the corner window seat and another group of young men sitting across from them were giving flirtatious looks and gesture. Several men in tailored suits seated at the counter near the window were either reading the newspaper or looking at their phone. The variety of people in Corner Café are as diverse as the town he works at.

              As his name got called, Mr. Corin heard the door chime ring violently. He smiled at the young woman who handed his coffee and slowly turned to find a frenzied-looking man facing him. The man’s hands were tightly clenched on a knife, his eyes slightly red and scrunched while a vein can be visibly seen throbbing on the side of his wide forehead. Mr. Corin raised his eyebrow.

              “What did you do to my wife?” the man snarled at Mr. Corin who quietly gazed at the man. The busy coffee shop turned into a stand still. Even the young man frothing the milk turned off the machine to look at trouble brewing right in front of them. Many of the customers nearby moved back when they saw the knife.

              “Who are you addressing, young man?” Dr. Corin politely said as he stirred his coffee.

              “You!!!” the man sneered, “You stupid jerk! My wife left me last night after she saw you, taking my boy with her. I paid for that session, Dumbass. All of those sessions with you!” his voice getting louder as he stalked forward.

              Dr. Corin took a sip from his cup and placed it on the tall counter. Placing his feet apart, he took on a boxer’s position and faced the man who is now sweating profusely on his forehead and neck. The man’s gaze traveled from the surrounding people before glancing back at his target.

              “You have no right to drive my wife and kid away from me! You are full of hot air, Doc. D’you know that? You are deep shit, Dumbass!” he screamed. Then he scrunched his body and rushed forward aiming the knife directly at Dr. Corin’s stomach. Several audible gasps seem to spur the man as he gave a maniac laugh.

              Dr. Corin deftly stepped to the side, pushed the hands of his attacker away while easily capturing both with a slight maneuver. He then swiftly encircled his opponent’s neck with his left arm locking him in place while putting pressure on the attacker’s hands to release his weapon. The knife clattered on the floor and slid under a table. The man escaped Dr. Corin’s hold but as he turned to face the doctor he received a direct solid punch on his solar plexus. He slumped down on the marble floor with a thud.

              “I’ve heard of your violence many times, Mr. Flores,” Dr. Corin said as he straightened his jacket into place. He grabbed the knife and deposited in on the counter. He continued, “As a matter of fact, we know you were the one who attacked our female colleagues who were helping your wife. My lawyer will send you a restraining order and I believe with enough people here as witness I can guarantee that you will not be able to harm your young wife, your son of five and any people who are willing to help them.” Mr. Corin slowly uttered looking at the unconscious man lying on his feet.

              Taking a card from his wallet, he handed it to the nearest Barista instructing her to call the police and refer them to his office. Grabbing the cup on the counter, he emptied it quickly and headed to the door. The people in the coffee shop started clapping and cheering as he left.


              “How did you like that new coffee shop, G-Gene? D-did you like the ambiance?” Leticia greeted as he entered the clinic. The glass reflected the slight flush on his face, his eyes were wide and twinkling mischievously, and a small smile has lightened his normally stoic countenance. Leticia looked almost enchanted at him or perhaps a bit perplexed.

              Dr. Corin gave a small laugh. “I think we could renovate our break room into something similar. I rather prefer the coffee you make for me,” he replied with a wink.

              Leticia blushed.

The compulsion on this obsession

Photo by Matt Quinn on Unsplash

In Psychiatry, compulsion is an act or ritual that person feels compelled to perform repeatedly, often to reduce the distress caused by an obsession. (Source: The Free Dictionary by Farlex) In effect, the current distraction we have is due to avoiding a specific stress in our lives. This is a very human condition.

              My current distractions are playing games and reading various webnovels. I confess to having multiple projects ranging from buying gifts to crafts and needlework that are detracting my focus because I am stressing over something I could not achieve: perfection. It doesn’t need a Psychology graduate to conclude this. If you keep asking yourself `why´ so many times, the dissatisfaction in your life would surface. It is so much easier to distract ourselves. I tell myself that solving a certain puzzle would make me feel accomplished, gathering resources are like gathering the ideas left and right, and while crafting or doing needlework allows me to set the scenes of the stories in my head. In the end, I did not pick up my pen nor touched the keyboard to write the story—I only did all those to run away and waste time.

               I always tell friends and family members (who would listen) that there were many times a great plot or scenes would play in my mind. I would wish I have the time to jot down what the Muse shared with me. This is my dilemma when a superb story rolled in the theater of my mind. The plot is riveting and images so exciting that these should be on the big screen! It was too easy to get lost in the whole thing except I’m lost on where to start re-telling. My writing skills are not yet good enough to show the picture to others.

My obsession on details and minuteness must be is driving my husband up the wall. When I write these images and go deep in the recesses of my mind to capture the actual scenes or words of wisdom, the biggest hindrance to my writing is myself. The stress of capturing everything and relaying these to the readers provokes me like those who need to feel the “end” on what they started.

The Muse moved on—perhaps giving another writer the chance to write the story she gave me. I felt helpless and defeated because my skills were not enough—I was not enough. The only thing I could tell you was that “Once upon a time, there was a story that haunted me… and I ran away from sharing it with you. The End.

Once upon a time, there was a story that haunted me… and I ran away from sharing it with you. The end.

Shelami Laubach

This does not make up for a good story until I set aside my need for perfection and think of the reason I want to share the story in the first place. So I took up my pen again, dragged out all these drafts and reconstructed my writing blog to start what I hope is the breakout of my writing career.

English Novels and Stories, please

My sister read a lot of books while she was pregnant, which I associated to my nieces’ love for books starting at 18 months old. These young babies can’t even understand the words we tell them yet but they insist on flipping pages of books already! One of them would even cry when we take the book away since she has literally flipped the book front to back and back to front multiple times.

I had the same unusual love of books when I was younger and I’m still very fond of recalling most stories I have read despite my reading comprehension not being high back then. Many times I find it fun recalling scenes or the multiple story arcs that shows the characters’ growth. These are ingrained in my mind that is why when I read through some classics again I am surprised to find vitality that allows a refreshing new image of scenes and characters. Other times, the recollection of scenes and characters were congealed.

Photo cutesy of: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Now that I have been living in a different country with a totally different language for the past six years, there is still a craving in me for books and stories in English. Previously, the local public library back in the US were accessible but due to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) I have since lost access to my account. I tried to find other means and finally gave in and asked for a Kindle for Christmas. The result: I still prefer the page-flipping, pencil-marking, paper-smelling experience that you get out of books. Kindle is now mostly reserved for vacation or long trips since it is lighter than 2-3 books that I would often take with me.

The future of novel reading?
What has kept me occupied (and somewhat satisfied) lately were these open source library of English-translated Asian novels online found at Novel Updates and Wattpad websites. I also use the Webnovel site, which has an accompanying phone and tablet app, which provides a variety of novels that are either translated Chinese novels or original submitted work. There are many more of these open source libraries out there.

Although the book experience I mentioned earlier is missing, the perks of having a variety of novels almost for free is quite satisfying. Comprehending the new world, culture and country just makes going through several novels exhilarating. What does disappoint me in this is that there are no specific regulation on plagiarism. In fact, this type of novel reading promotes it with the rise of fan-fictions. Furthermore, readers get to comment on each chapter leading to many spoilers added and not so tasteful ones that doesn’t promote further reading of the novel. Webnovel requires payment either through `stones´ or cash to access further chapters.

Supply and Demand
In conclusion, there is a demand out there for a good variety of stories and many who are willing to supply it via original works or translations. These online novels allow readers to have a certain interaction with each chapter along with their fellow readers. In the end, my preference still lies on published books than the readily available novels that don’t go through editors. However, the open source have allowed me to read original works that many publishing house have overlooked.

Bonus Mention
Ann Morgan gave a presentation at TEDGlobal London back in 2015 regarding her one-year challenge of reading a book from every country, which you can watch here. You can also see the list of books she has read on this site.

Another special TED presentation mention is “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichi, which she presented at the TED Global 2009 can be seen here.

Both of these TED talks provide a beautiful illustration on how we should approach modern story reading, as well as challenge ourselves to keep an open mind on having a difference perspective in viewing our world.