Life After Coffee
by Virginia Franken
When globetrotting coffee buyer, Amy O’Hara, assures her husband—who stays at home to watch the kids—that it is He Who Has It Harder… she doesn’t really believe it. That is, until the day she gets laid off, her husband decides to devote all his waking hours to writing a screenplay, and she discovers she’s actually the world’s most incompetent mother.
Amy’s only possible salvation is to find another high-flying job as quickly as possible, but with the coffee industry imploding around her—and the competing buyers in her field being much hipper prospects—things look pretty dire. Even if Amy does manage to find full-time employment ever again, as her life slowly becomes more and more entwined with her children’s, how will she be able to bear leaving them to travel for weeks on end?
When salvation appears in the form of a movie-mogul ex-boyfriend who wants to employ her husband and rekindle their relationship, Amy starts to find she’s sorely tempted…
She is so beautiful that ‘beating them off with a stick’ isn’t going to cut it when she’s older. Peter and I are going to have to keep her in a smooth-sided cloud-high tower surrounded by a team of elite ninjas.
‘Mommy! Come and wipe my butt!’ Knowing better than to ignore a demand when Violet’s wearing the tiara, I race to the bathroom to find her in downward dog, bottom offered toward the sky. There’s poop on the seat, the sink, her butt, her hands, the floor; I think I even see some on one of the pink bits of the tiara.
Like I’m going to return to that library ever again. Even if the zombie apocalypse was upon us and the library was the only fortified structure in town, I’d rather risk my entire family becoming zombie hamburgers than enter through those swinging doors ever again. Time for Twos and I are done.
That was almost a decade ago. Somehow seems longer. Actually, it counts as about half a century when you factor in parenting years. Parenting years, of course, being like dog years: you just age faster.
Besides, the fact that I flat-out fail the pencil test these days is reason enough to conceal my body from anyone who isn’t legally contracted not to run away from it.
As the breadwinner of the family, when Amy lost her job the whole family went off the rails. She was forced to become acquainted with her demanding, precocious, and manipulative pre-school aged children and discovers that she is completely lacking in parenting skills. Her early attempts were lame and abysmal at best - before she gave up and gave in. I smirked, snorted, laughed aloud, and snickered as a read this mirth filled missive of a clueless career woman coming face to face with her prickly, lazy, irresponsible, and tantrum-prone family - and I mean all of them were obnoxious the majority of the time, Amy and husband in particular - but then, we all have our moments. As the stress of being at home and without income continues to mount, Amy becomes more and more desperate and impulsively makes risky decisions and many missteps that could be the end of everything or a new beginning. Ms. Franken’s writing was wickedly witty, clever, and stealthfully insightful.
Virginia Franken was born and raised in Medway, Kent, the place where Henry the 8th sent his wives on holiday in the hope that they’d be eaten alive by mosquitoes and save him the trouble of beheading them. Most her childhood was spent wearing a dance leotard and tights, and at age 11 she attended the (sort of) prestigious dance school The Arts Education School, Tring, where she spent her teen years trying to do pique turns in a straight line and getting drunk in the village. (The inability to do the former possibly informed by too much opportunity to do the latter).
After graduating from The University of Roehampton, she worked on cruise liners as a professional dancer before deciding she’d had enough of wearing diamanté g-strings for a living and somehow managed to bag a job in book publishing. Getting fed up of having to choose between paying the rent or buying groceries, she eventually moved from London to Los Angeles where life was affordable and every time she opened her mouth she got to act all surprised and flattered when someone said they liked her accent. She then spent years trying to convince everyone else that it was them who had the accent, but this was never met with anything more emphatic than a polite, “Is that so…”
These days she lives in Monrovia, near to Pasadena, with two kids, a dog, one ever-lasting goldfish and her bearded lover, in a house that’s just a little bit too small to fit everyone in quite comfortably. She gets most of her writing done when she should be sleeping. LIFE AFTER COFFEE is her first novel. If enough people buy a copy, there’s a good chance she’ll write another…