The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.


At brunch, the three young girls sit on the left of the table, and their mothers face them on the other side. The girls chat over their pancakes, modeling their mothers. The mothers laugh and sigh and give cautious looks toward their daughters–checking to see if all is well, smiling at their little girl. One of the girls wears a purple t-shirt and is struck by a difference between her friends and their mothers. Each little girl has milk in a plastic cup with a lid and a straw. The mothers drink coffee from white mugs. She whispers conspiratorially with her pals, and they nod toward the mugs that were set on the table before anyone had arrived. Along with the knife, fork, and spoon wrapped in a white napkin, someone had already left coffee mugs at each place, expecting anyone who took a seat there to need all these dishes to enjoy their meal.

One girl beams, a second girl appears nervous, and the third charges on ahead. She slides the mug closer, turns it upright before her, uncaps her milk and pours it into the coffee mug. She wraps her hands around the porcelain, she pretends to blow at the top–as her mother does. She takes a drink of her relocated milk and smiles at her friends. They also begin the sneaky process of going from plastic cups–obviously for young girls–to the coffee mugs–a sign of breakfast elegance. The mothers have seen the whole process unfolding and glance knowingly at each other, delighting in the fact that their girls are still young enough to wish to be like Mom. So the six women, three taller and three shorter, become indiscernible as they chat, as they nibble, as they sip.

-Chicago, Illinois.

women, funny signs, alaska

Restroom sign in Fairbanks, Alaska.

11 comments on “Mugging

  1. joannerambling
    July 25, 2014

    Oh how I love the way you write I can really picture the scene

    • 🙂 Joanne, you put tears in my eyes!! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the story and could see the scene in action.

      Thank you so much!

  2. Darlene
    July 25, 2014

    I love it. You are so observant. Most people would completely miss this scene. That’s why you are a writer! The restroom sign in Alaska is just perfect.

  3. M-R
    July 25, 2014

    A win|win story – lovely. 🙂

  4. Jeff Walker
    July 28, 2014

    This goes near the top of the list of my favorites you’ve written. The small, nearly unseen moments are often where the largest leaps are made.

    • 🙂 Thank you so much, Jeff! I passed this one on to my mother and it made her misty for her daughters when we were younger and funnier!
      Have a great week and thank you for taking the time to write.

  5. Steven Wordsmith Lincoln
    July 28, 2014

    I’ve been remiss in reading, Paige. This is my first piece as I try to catch up. So good. Dare I say, precious? Happy travels!

    • Thank you, Steven! There may be a novel-shaped something taking form this Fall, so I hope I’ll be giving you plenty to read soon and very soon. 🙂

  6. Ana Perry
    August 3, 2014

    How sweet, our little one is mimicking us now, it’s so cute so see children learn and grow

    • Ana, one of my nieces is 16 months and it’s great to see how she mimics her cousin who is 7, and how she models her parents. She hugs her Grandma and pats her on the back with those tiny hands. 🙂 Love that!

  7. cold press coffee
    May 23, 2017

    Nice article …Love the way of writing….

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