Fiction: Deep Into Midnight Fiction: Deep Into Midnight | Shades of Crimson

Fiction: Deep Into Midnight

by Davina on December 8, 2010

Hi folks. This will be my last blog post of 2010. It is the beginning of a story that I plan to develop into a novel. One of my secrets in writing is to put myself in the scene and write it as if I was actually there. In this case, it was easy because this scene is set in a donut shop. Colleen, the main character is working the graveyard shift, something I did for a year in northern Ontario. This is based on a true story whereby, I was working one shift when a distraught woman rushed into the shop to use a phone…

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. Make lots of good memories! Cheers.

Deep into Midnight

The counter tops were spotless. Colleen prided herself in keeping the donut shop clean. Before having worked on the midnight shift, she’d never considered just how much work was involved.

There were fewer customers to serve, outside of those stopping in after the bars had closed for a coffee and a donut to sober up before driving or staggering home. After the bar crowd cleared out, aside from the odd policeman, taxi driver or truck driver, the place was relatively empty until the morning rush started at about 6 a.m.

Colleen’s job was to make the chili and soup, bag the day-olds, and remove the empty trays from the front display case to clean the shelves and the glass. She replaced the box of milk and cream for the dispenser – a heavy job. Sometimes, when the baker was feeling particularly kind, he’d do that for her… if she felt like asking. Usually she did it herself.

She removed the trays of donuts to wipe down the shelves and prepare for the next batch, washed the ashtrays, filled the sugar dispensers, put together cardboard boxes for takeout donuts, swept the mats, washed the floors and cleaned the bathrooms. Working the graveyard shift had become a welcome distraction from her worries.

Colleen glanced at the clock. It was almost 3:30 am and her shift was barely halfway finished. She was ready to go home. This shift had been a particularly slow one. It was early February in northern Ontario and most people were at home in bed where it was warm. Driving conditions were treacherous, so traffic on Hwy 11 was quiet.

She didn’t look up at first when the next customer walked in. Absorbed by her thoughts, she had been staring at the rag in her hand, wiping in a circular motion on the already clean counter. When the draft of icy air from the opened door swirled around her ankles she raised her head.

A young woman stood across from her staring at her with a dirty, tear-stained face. She was chewing a huge wad of gum. Long black hair tumbled from beneath the furry hood on her parka. There was fresh snow speckled across the fur. She couldn’t have been much older than 16. An old green pick-up truck sped from the parking lot, sending snow flying behind it. The driver accelerated onto the highway, fishtailing on an icy patch. He regained control and the red tail lights eventually disappeared.

Colleen was still wiping the counter and the girl was staring at her, frowning.

“Can I help you?” Colleen was afraid to ask.

The girl peeled off her ragged mittens and tossed them on the counter beside Colleen’s rag. They fell to the floor.

“For fuck sakes!” she said, bending to retrieve them. Snow that had been caked on her boots had left a messy trail on the floor that Colleen had just finished mopping. She was more concerned about the floor than this girl, who was obviously in distress.

The girl tossed her mittens back on the counter, blew a bubble with her gum and popped it loudly. Impatiently, she asked, “Ya got a phone I can use?” She glanced at the phone on the wall behind the counter and then back at Colleen. “Lorraine, here.” She extended a hand towards Colleen rather impertinently, but it was ignored.

Colleen forgot about wiping the counter and the wet floor for a second. This girl was going to be a handful.

“So? The phone? Can I…?” she asked again, popping another bubble. “Before that asshole in the truck comes back.”

Colleen wished the bubble had become stuck in the long straggly hair that partially covered the girl’s face. She reeked of cigarette smoke and there was alcohol on her breath.

“A little young to be drinking aren’t you?” Colleen ignored her request to use the phone.

The girl stood there, staring at her, chewing her gum. “Who’s asking?” The girl’s eyes dropped to the name tag pinned on her uniform.

“Colleen. Can I please use the phone?” She pushed her hood back off her head, giving the impression that she wasn’t intending on leaving until her request was made good.

Colleen motioned for Lorraine to follow her behind the counter where she left her to dial the number, but not before making sure it wasn’t a long distance call. Hanging up on her had lead to another awkward moment. There was something about this girl that pushed Colleen beyond her comfort zone.

Lou, the baker, was in the back standing over the fryer. Three dozen cake donuts were floating in the oil, sizzling. He was expertly flipping each one over to reveal a nicely browned donut that, after cooling on the rack, would be ready for icing. Kim, the decorator was sitting in the corner on a stool, engrossed in a Stephen King novel.

Lou never looked up when Colleen strolled in and leaned against the wall, all the while keeping her eye on the girl who was on the phone. Lorraine’s gestures were animated; it was obvious she was upset. Her back was turned towards Colleen but there was no mistake about the nature of her call.

“I told you…!” She cried, bending her knees and throwing her head forward. Her long hair spilled towards the floor, narrowly missing the chocolate croissants in the front showcase.

“… I couldn’t sleep. It happened again and I had to get out of there. I went for a walk and some guy offered…” She was interrupted by the person on the other end of the line and she stood there tapping her foot, waiting for them to finish.

“Yes, I realize what time it is, mother!” She heaved a loud sigh and put her hand on her hip.

“So what? I’ve seen him around school before so it’s not like he’s a total stranger. Nick’s a nice guy so I figured what the heck. I needed someone who would listen to me.”

Another pause. Colleen was listening intently now. Even Lou had glanced up a couple of times to tune into the conversation. Kim was still reading in her corner.

“Nothing happened. Well, not really….” She giggled, then.

“Here it comes,” thought Colleen wryly.

“After driving for a while we parked at the library to chat. He pulled out a couple of beer and we had a drink. I was upset and crying, so he comforted me. That’s when the stupid jerk tried to put his freakin’ hand…”

Another interruption. Lorraine spun around, realizing that Colleen and Lou were listening to her conversation. She finished the rest of her call in loud whispers, before slamming the receiver back down on the hook.

Colleen had since returned to the front of the shop to serve a new customer, straining to make out the rest of the call, but to no avail. She was so distracted that she forgot to put cream in the customer’s coffee. The customer didn’t even notice until they’d taken the first sip, as they too were engrossed in this young girl’s mysterious phone conversation.

Lorraine marched behind Colleen as she was getting the cream for her customer. “Thanks for the use of the phone.” Her head was down and she avoided Colleen’s gaze.

Colleen had a feeling she was crying. Lorraine continued down the hall, left through the side door and started across the parking lot. Heavy snow had begun to fall and if it hadn’t been for the uncertainty in the air, Colleen would have loved to stand at the window and watch. Instead, she was reminded that Lorraine had left her mittens on the counter. She went to retrieve them and dashed to the door calling her name and waving the mittens in the air.

Lorraine threw up her arms in frustration and began to trudge back towards the donut shop. Colleen wondered what was keeping this girl from sleeping. What could have upset her so much that she had wandered out in the middle of a freezing cold winter’s night and accept a ride from a guy she hardly knew?

Photo Credit: Kirill Tryaskin

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Tony Single December 8, 2010 at 4:20 am


What are you doing to me?! You can’t end it there! ARGH! :P

Seriously though, this is a great read. If you’re spinning a whole novel from this small passage then I cannot wait to buy it and read it! Wow!

I want to know what Lorraine’s deal is. What’s troubling her so?

Anyways, thanks for the sneak peek, Davina. It’s a great way to finish off your blogging activities for 2010. I hope you have a great Christmas and a brilliant New Year. Have fun! :D

vered | Blogger for Hire December 8, 2010 at 11:31 am

It’s very good, Davina. I would love to learn more about Lorraine and also about Colleen and her worries, which you mention briefly. Enjoy the blogging break!

Hilary December 8, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Hi Davina .. as I’ve followed you along somewhat with this story .. I too look forward to seeing where you go with it .. I’ve enjoyed learning a little about the story process .. and now am understanding more as I seem to be blogging amongst authors.

Enjoy the break and freedom from the keyboard et al .. I’ll miss you- but know you’re there to connect with occasionally .. enjoy Christmas and its seasonal offerings .. and to us all a brilliant 2011 .. cheers Hilary
Hilary´s last blog post ..What makes a great villain

Belinda December 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Ha ha! I had the same reaction as Tony. I really enjoyed this sneak peek. Very easy to read, engaging, and already I could visualize Colleen and Lorraine. You are such a good writer, Davina!

Happy holidays to you and I look forward to reading you again in the new year!

Patricia December 8, 2010 at 9:45 pm

I stopped reading this post, knowing it will be up for a couple of weeks and I can come back when I can read each word of your writing and savor…I have three days with the kids off cross country skiing…maybe I will read this on the laptop by the fire?
Happy Holiday to a great writer

Davina December 9, 2010 at 11:55 am

Hah, hah, Tony…
I’m sorry :) Well, let’s just say… ah, let’s not. I’m so tempted to give you a clue but if I get started, I won’t be able to stop. Still working on the storyline, developing more of Colleen’s character and doing research about what is up with Lorraine. I’m glad you enjoyed the read. It was fun to write — going back in time to the days in the donut shop.You have a super Christmas, too! And, an even better New Year. Cheers.

Thanks Vered.
I’m learning more about Lorraine and Colleen too :-) See you soon.

Hi Hilary.
I’m glad you’re enjoying the learning. You are eager and that is fun energy to share. You have a lot of good insights into the writing — it makes for interesting adventures for the imagination — just putting it out there. Thank you for your constant input during the writers’ workshop.

I’m already missing everyone… but very glad for your emails :-)

Thanks! :) It’s a GR8 feeling to know when some has been that engaged in the writing. I want to create a good ride with this one. I know that readers want to be surprised, manipulated and kept on the edge of their seats. So, I’m making plans…. stay tuned. Have a wonderful holiday!

This post will be up until early January, so you have lots of time. Reading by the fire? I’m envious! :-) Have a wonderful Christmas, Patricia. I’ll see you in emails…

Sara December 9, 2010 at 4:04 pm


This sounds like a winner. I really enjoyed how you developed this story. This is like a tasting menu and you finally find the one item you really like and want more, but it’s just a taste….oh, no:~)

I hope you have a wonderful holiday and that this story continues to talk to you!
Sara´s last blog post ..My Gift- My Rights

Chris Edgar December 10, 2010 at 11:33 am

Hi Davina — thanks for this. I could definitely feel the awkwardness Colleen experienced dealing with the girl. Ooh, I’ve got a plot suggestion — Colleen decides to follow Lorraine’s car, spurred on by an inexplicable compulsion to know the truth. She ends up following Lorraine to a deserted, snow-covered vacant lot. Lorraine walks out into the middle of the lot and inexplicably disappears into the ground. Colleen follows and ends up descending a hidden elevator into a top-secret military institution. Or am I pushing this too far into the thriller genre?

Alien Ghost December 11, 2010 at 10:56 am

Hi Davina,

I guess Tony, at the beginning, resumed very well the feeling after finishing this reading. Now we want more and…when it’ll be? Very captivating story! Thank you for the preview, and have a wonderful holiday season. We’ll be waiting for your return in January :)

Alien Ghost´s last blog post ..Overflow

Tess The Bold Life December 12, 2010 at 6:54 am

More, more! Have a fantastic BB! Happy New Year! xo

Davina December 12, 2010 at 11:10 am

Hi Sara.
I’m glad you enjoyed this. The story is still talking; some elements are changing and I’m going with it. More possibilities are opening up in the sense that by letting go of one element I’ve replaced it with another that will make the novel more mainstream. You and JC have a super Christmas!

Hi Chris.
LOL, you’re writing a science-fiction thriller! :-) I love this. Not going too far at all; keep going…what’s next?

Hi Raul.
You’re welcome :) I feel the pressure (in a good way) to write this now. I’m glad I’ve put this out here cause you all can hold me accountable. Doing some research on this before I get into the writing so it will be some time. Patience is a virtue? :) Have a great Christmas!

Hi Tess.
Okay :) You have a great holiday and I will be seeing you. I still have a few more blogs to get around to before the blogging is finished for the year.

Rose December 12, 2010 at 9:38 pm

A great read indeed. Please remember me when the book comes out. Have a great holiday hun. I have been so busy but know I am still around and appreciate you.
Rose´s last blog post ..The Artificial Christmas Tree

~ Bern ~ December 13, 2010 at 2:47 pm

There is a hole in your Story because it takes place in a doughnut shop. The girl too has a hole or an emptiness within.
So she is attracted to the doughnut shop and interacts with a person who likes to polish and have the surface shine.
By letting that which ails us out, the real world then comes back in.
But then the doughnut shop will be out of business.
However, you can then serve Angel Cake.

Davina December 13, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Hey, thanks Rose.
I can say the same for you; I’m still around and appreciate you too. Expect blog visit from me soon. Hope you have a fabulous holiday!

You’re hilarious!! :-) At first I thought I was getting a serious critique of the story when I read, “There is a hole in your story…” lol. Actually, you are pretty intuitive — your statement; “By letting that which ails us out, the real world then comes back in” fits in well with the theme that I’m developing. You rock! So does Angel Cake :) This has been a wonderful word play that really is more than play… the truth has a way of sneaking out eh?

Jasmine December 27, 2010 at 1:26 pm

WHAT?! How are you going to stop there? And when is this novel going to be finished?? What happened after the girls walked out? What did Colleen do?
Jasmine´s last blog post ..Personalized Photo Puzzles

Liara Covert December 28, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Sharing who you are is always appreciated. Be true to yourself.
Liara Covert´s last blog post ..Its about whats inside

Davina December 30, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Sorry Jasmine :)
Even *I*don’t know what happens next. Working on developing the characters and their back story up to this point. Then, we’ll see…. I do, however, know what is keeping Lorraine up at night and why Colleen is working the graveyard shift.

I agree, and think that’s all everyone ever really wants — to just be themselves.

Jannie Funster January 1, 2011 at 12:15 pm

WOW! You had me at donut, of course, Davina.

What an intriguing start to a story. I LOVE this! Both Colleen and Lorraine seem so real. I admore your talent. I want to know more, of course. And look forward to just that.

I mostly want to know if Lou is in love with Colleen. :)


Jannie Funster January 1, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Yes, admore. Admore is a Jannie word — a cross between admire and adore.


Didn’t post the parcel yet. Promising to NEXT week.

xoxoxo again.

Blue Bunny sends mutch loves.

xoxoxoox again.
Jannie Funster´s last blog post ..Merry Christmas- 2002 and 2010

Davina January 3, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Hey, I’m glad you enjoyed this, Jannie. :-)

I hadn’t considered Lou’s role in the story yet… thanks for the fodder. Hm…

This is actually the middle of the story that came about after an exercise in a writing workshop. I’m currently working on developing how Colleen came to work in the donut shop and how her meeting Lorraine will bring about resolution for both of them.

Admore — that has a nice ring to it, lol. I patiently await your package. Cheers to you, Jannie.

patricia January 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm

How sweet it is – a donut and coffee and cream….Neat story Looking forward to more of the sweet Looks like we are all hooked.

I am glad I waited because it was so much better than racing through and just plunking down a something in the comments box. Kind of like I just left my mittens because I was deeply distracted. Now what was it?????

Delena Silverfox@Flightnetwork Promo Code January 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm

I don’t know if it’s the simplicity of the language, the setting which is so familiar to all of us, or the feeling of all our hard work being trampled-upon and dirtied that we can all relate to. Maybe it’s all three. Maybe it’s even more. But this is so gripping in such a human way that it’s unbelievably beautiful!

I’m with everyone else. More, please!
Delena Silverfox@Flightnetwork Promo Code´s last blog post ..Norton Discount Code

Davina January 19, 2011 at 12:27 am

Hi Patricia.
Hey, thanks for coming back and reading. I’m glad you enjoyed the wee story break. Maybe next time you’ll be reading this on your Kindle. And don’t worry, I’ll take care of your mittens :)

Wow, Delana.
Thanks for the wonderful compliment! I love the analogies you’ve used here to describe the possible hooks for the reader — pretty easy to empathize with Colleen’s clean shop being dirtied :) It’s great to receive an objective perspective. Thanks.

Jasmine February 4, 2011 at 8:52 am

Sooo…what is keeping Lorraine up at night and why was Colleen working the graveyard shift? Sorry!! I just really enjoyed the beginning to your novel and I am wondering how far you have made it?! It is the beginning to an amazing story that I am too excited to wait for! But I will, because you are a tremendous writer!
Jasmine´s last blog post ..Personalized Photo Puzzles

Davina February 7, 2011 at 12:52 am

Hi Jasmine.
LOL… I’m sorry to leave you hanging :-) I’ve got another book project that I’ve had in the works ahead of this one so once that one is ready, then I will pick up on Deep into Midnight. I love that you are so into this one :) I will keep you posted… but it won’t be for a while before I’m even back working on this one.

Thank you SO much for your wonderful comment. It’s readers like you that make this all worthwhile. You rock!

J. DesRochers February 20, 2011 at 11:33 pm

This was amazing. I love short stories- I am currently reading “Who Do You Think You Are?” by one of my new favourites Alice Munro…and this story brought to mind “White Swan”. Surely not for the context as they are both extremely different, but more so for the style and flare that this was written in. I long to read more. Great work!
J. DesRochers´s last blog post ..What Plagued Humanity

Davina February 21, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Thanks, that’s awesome to hear!
I hope to be able to make the time to finish drawing up the outline for this story and get to writing the book! I haven’t heard of “Who Do You Think You Are” — thanks for the mention; I’ll check it out because now I’m curious :)

J. DesRochers February 21, 2011 at 6:03 pm

I too hope you find the time; it is a great start so far! :D As for dear ol’ Alice Munro, she is one of Canada’s most influential authors (at least in my mind), and I am excited for you to become acquainted with that book in particular. Let me know how you like it!
J. DesRochers´s last blog post ..What Plagued Humanity

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