Life Soda. Short Story.

So it occurs to me I haven’t done one of these in a while. I’m coming off a week break from writing, it was kind of weird as its been almost a year since I’ve taken a break from the 3 short stories a week thing. Still, good to do every now and then to recharge a little. I’m planning on doing it again in a few weeks, (The stories here won’t stop, don’t worry!) with the aim of getting a lot of writing done during a quiet period. I’ll pretty much be away from distractions and the like, so my plan is to try and blast through a few ideas I have and see where they take me. I’m really looking forward to it too because it’s been a while since I’ve exclusively focused on novels rather than doing both or doing it in an episodic format.

Also, I finally made Hurricanes. I’ve been wanting to make them for a while, but passion fruit juice doesn’t seem to be available to buy in my country and grenadine is ridiculously hard to find for some reason. I ended up making passion fruit juice myself and found grenadine in the end luckily! They were nice, though a little too alcohol-y for my taste. I think that was down to the rum I used (which was what I had on hand, Bacardi and Captain Morgans), there was an almost chemical taste to it, rather than just a strong alcohol burn. I think if I was to make it again, I’d up the juices a little and take out a bit of the booze to tone down the taste a little. Also, passion fruit juice is delicious! I highly recommend you try it or make it fresh. It’s pretty damn easy to do!

______________________________________________________________

The meeting was running way, way over.

Shit.

Bob started bouncing his legs up and down, it wouldn’t be too much longer now. He watched as Shelly stood from the table and poured herself a fresh cup of coffee, she gave him a little smirk and sat back down. She knew he was jonesing for a can. Of course she did. He took a sip of water, hoping it would help relieve some of the dryness in his throat, but it did nothing. He could already feel the headache beginning, the low, dull ache forming at the back of his eyes. They were still talking, why were they still talking? Everyone had gotten the entire point after what? Fifteen minutes, yet here they all were almost an hour and a half later. At this point it was less a meeting about the project and more just being talked at. Darren was explaining something, Bob missed the question, and most of the explanation, but he already knew it was Cindy that asked it. It was her kind of question, the stupid kind that could be solved with a quick Google or even just reading through the goddamned notes in front of her. Bob took a deep breath and released it slowly, then he forced his legs to stop. Mostly because Shelly was smirking at him again. She took another sip of her coffee. He should have brought a can of it with him, he was an idiot. He had the can in his hand and ready to bring with when he had second thoughts, surely a can of soft drink was a little inappropriate for a meeting, when everyone was drinking tea or coffee out of mugs. In all his time here he had yet to see one person drinking a soft drink in a meeting. He should have just brought it, to hell with what everyone thought. Hell he could even pour it into one of the water glasses, fancy it up a little bit. Bobs attention snapped back to Darren, he was saying something, obviously it wasn’t too important, the important part was that he was starting to shuffle his papers together. C’mon, C’mon, hurry it up already.
“I’ll see you all here again next week to talk about how far we’ve gotten. Everyone know what they’re doing?”
Bob nodded vigorously, “Great, if anyone needs me you know where I’ll be.” People started gathering there things too, Bob swept his pile of papers off the desk and rushed out.

At his own desk he dumped the paper down and reached into his bag, already he could taste the sweetness on his tongue. His bag was empty. What? He had put it right there this morning! Bob grabbed his bag and started dumping the contents onto his desk, it was in here somewhere, he knew it was. The bag was empty, pens, pieces of paper, tissue and loose gum were scattered across his desk, but no can. Shit.

The break room.

Of course, he had put the damn thing into the fridge, what the hell had he been thinking? He stood from his desk, leaving the mess behind and quickly walked to the break room, trying not to run. His mouth was dry, so very, very dry. He swallowed almost compulsively as he went. The headache was getting worse, each step setting off a heavy thud inside his head.

The break room was empty when he arrived, Bob pulled open the fridge and there it was, like manna from heaven, he grabbed the bright yellow can, pulled the tab, he felt a little tension leave him at the hiss of escaping air. He brought the can to his lips, eager to just start gulping it down, but he held off. He took a sip and swirled it around his mouth, feeling the tang as his mouth tingled pleasantly, already he could feel the headache starting to recede. He took a gulp, let out a belch, then sighed and shivered slightly. He closed over the fridge and made his way back to his desk, cold can clutched tightly in one hand.

He had started drinking Life Soda about a month before, when someone was handing out free samples on his way to work. It was strange, he couldn’t quite describe the flavour, a mix of citrus tang and sweetness along with hints of other fruits, but without being definable. He had read over the ingredients but they left him equally puzzled, with Flavourings being the only thing listed. The can itself proclaimed its flavour as “The Taste of Life!” Still, it was tasty and it wasn’t ridiculously high in sugar or caffeine like other soft drinks. One his way home that evening he stopped into a few stores until he found one that stocked it and bought a six pack. His limit of one can a day was quickly upped to three. One in the morning on his way to work to perk him up slightly, one at lunch to get him through the rest of the day and finally one when he got home, to relax in front of the TV with. He was aware that it probably wasn’t the healthiest habit, but it was tasty, not too high in calories and it was better than drinking a beer or three every day. He had told a few other people in the office about it and it seemed like it was starting to catch on, he had seen one or two people with a can stashed in their bag, if he was lucky they’d start stocking it in the vending machine, would be good to have a back up like that. They were allowed leave for lunch if they wanted to, but no one ever did so he knew it would look bad if he went out to the shops to pick up a can or two.

Bob knew the headaches weren’t a good thing, but they weren’t necessarily a bad thing either, it was just because he had gotten used to the caffeine, small amounts though they were. Hell, if he wanted anarchy he could just switch the coffee to decaf and see how everyone dealt with the cravings. He took another sip from his drink and felt a wave of calm sweep over him. What did it matter? He had his drink, he was working well on the project, everything up to date. What did it matter what the others did or did not drink? He was happy and so were they, what ever the choices. He took another sip and smiled. Before he knew it the can was empty, he looked at it for a moment, he did want another one, but he said he’d limit himself to only three a day, but one more now and then wouldn’t hurt, would it? He nodded to himself, sure, no harm at all. He’d have an extra one when he got home today, a small treat for the stress of earlier on, just a little pick me up to brighten his day a little. That was all. He picked up the can and gave it a shake, making sure there was nothing but dregs left, sighing he threw the can into the bin and got back to work. As he did so he glanced at the clock, only a few more hours and he’d be at home, with a nice cold can of Life.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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