It's been a while since I've written one of these, so I thought it was well past time for another entry in the Between the Lines series! This time, we'll take a look at the third short story of The Everyday Divnities Project...
The Coffee Machines
First off, let me give the last of the three-part apology carried through this series thus far. Much like "The TV and the Remote Control" and "The Alarm Clock" stories, this one was self-edited, and I have a hard time being objective about my work. I can proofread my own stuff, but it takes an editor who is not so attached to the characters or the themes to make the tough decisions regarding the voice of the characters and the economy of words. If you can't tell, I tend to be verbose, and I have this deep-seated need for ALL OF THE WORDS to go into my stories. Fortunately, this behavior is being corrected.
I kept with the previous mission statement for these short stories and focused on the gods within the inanimate objects as opposed to the humans who used them. Unlike those previous stories, there are no humans at all in this tale. They're referenced, absolutely, but they don't show up as actual characters in the story. I felt that the past two stories had eased people into the concept of a hidden world of inanimate objects and the divinities that made them work, allowing me to delve deeper into the world of the Inanimates without using people as the bridge to cross into that setting. In fact, the last two short stories I'd written are set up in a similar way, with the narrative set fully in their world from start to finish instead of our own.
The absence of humans in this story is balanced by putting two divinities in a very human situation, that of a job review. Even teenagers can relate to the tedium of a performance review at whatever mundane job they've taken on to make some money. I know I could! At the same time, it humanizes the characters by putting these all-powerful gods in a very mundane scene and gives some insight into how the Inanimates hierarchy works. How does one move up the ladder in this modern-day pantheon? Well, now you know.
For those who are wondering, the character of Taryn is an amalgamation of every boss I've ever worked for in my life, but the name has no relation to any of them whatsoever. Maybe you see a little bit of your supervisor or manager in Taryn, maybe not, but little pieces of each of my bosses over the years is represented somewhere in the story. (And no, I won't name which traits are from which boss!) As for Mr. Caulfie, whose name is a very obvious pun on the Mr. Coffee coffeemakers, I'll be honest and say that he's very much based on me in those situations.
My favorite part, though, is the employee record on Mr. C. These are all actual scenarios that I incorporated into the story, some that I'd seen firsthand and some that were relayed to me by others. I had a boss who used her coffee machine to brew tea, and there actually is a Mrs. Tea teamaker (made by the Mr. Coffee company) that has unfortunately been discontinued. Water leaking out onto the counter has been a fairly common problem I've noticed in office coffee machines in the various offices I've worked at, too. And the quote that Taryn gives from the file comes directly from my own mother, who was having problems with her own coffee machine. I'm pleased to report that it has since been fixed and brews amazing coffee once more without spilling a drop.
Incidentally, the goddess of coffee that Taryn will be working for is a prominent character in my trilogy. Does that mean that Taryn will show up in the course of that story? Only time will tell!
Got a question you'd like to ask about The Coffee Machines story? Feel free to post it in the comments section below, and I'll answer it right on this very page!