How’s the Coffee?

by Autumn Bettinger


[Editor’s Note: This piece is part of the “Topical” series, with each piece solely submitted to and chosen by the Final Reader Pietra Dunmore.]


He says: I made you coffee. She says: I can’t smell anymore. He says: After you drop the kids off at school, could you swing by the grocery store? She says: This coffee doesn’t taste like anything. He says: I need to work late again. Could you make meatloaf for dinner with those potatoes I like? Extra ketchup. Tell the kids I’ll see them by seven. She says: I think I’m going to be sick. He says: Don’t forget the dry cleaning, I thought you were going to pick it up yesterday. She says: I need to sit down. He says: That reminds me, don’t let the kids leave their backpacks laying around. She says: I can’t feel my arms. He says: Don’t forget I’ve got an early meeting tomorrow. She says: I think you need to call 911. He says: I’m already late, see you tonight! Enjoy the coffee! She says:


Autumn Bettinger is a full-time mother of two living in Portland, Oregon. When not chasing toddlers and changing diapers, she can be found writing flash fiction after the kids are asleep. Her work is forthcoming in The Good Life Review’s Spring 2021 Issue.


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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “How’s the Coffee?”?

I found a prompt for this ‘he said/she said’ structure in an old writing book. Dialogue can be challenging at times, so I thought I’d give it a try and see if anything interesting happened. As a mother, your needs can disappear under the needs of your family, and it can be hard to be heard. Luckily for me, my actual husband is nothing like this jerk. Haha. I don’t think the value of truly hearing someone, and being heard, can be overstated. Hopefully, we can pay more attention to the little things, so we can hear when the big things show up, even when that’s over a single cup of coffee.


Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now open. The reading period for standard submissions closes again December 15, 2022. Submit here.


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04/24 • TBD