Tara Mann

Applause Issue 32 Label


Shauna ordered her usual caramel macchiato from her usual coffee shop and sat down in her usual booth. She sat and drank and drank and sat and watched the world go by. She liked to people-watch and imagine what was going on in their lives.

Like that guy with the triple espresso. Was he trying to wake himself up after a long night or did he just not know what espresso was? Or that girl with the green tea and chocolate croissant, crying on the phone. Maybe she was in the middle of a breakup. Outside, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. People walked around in shorts and sundresses, enjoying the summer weather. Shauna had nowhere to be for another hour.

In the booth next to hers, a woman was typing on a computer. She had long, curly red hair and wore a black blazer. Shauna found her eyes wandering to the screen, and she watched as the woman typed the words: It begins raining outside.

Instantly, a heavy shower made everyone run for shelter. Handbags and newspapers and briefcases were used as temporary umbrellas and passersby’s faces turned up at the sky as if to say, “What the hell?”

Intrigued, Shauna continued to watch the woman’s screen.

My coffee arrives, she typed.

A waitress approached the woman’s booth and set down a steaming mug. “Here you go. One black coffee. Can I get you anything else?”

“No, thank you,” said the woman. Her voice was on the deeper end, and she sounded distracted.

The waitress left, and Shauna waited eagerly to see what the woman would write next.

The person reading over my shoulder sits in my booth and tells me their name.

Spontaneously, before she even realized she was doing it, Shauna got up, joined the woman in her booth, and said, “My name is Shauna.”

The woman studied her, so Shauna took the opportunity to do the same. Her nose was slightly pointed, her lips pursed in thought. She had blue eyes—the sort of eyes you could get lost in, counting all the different shades of blue, searching for all their secrets. Her eyes were kind, and Shauna instantly knew that she was the type of person who would see a snail struggling to cross the road and pick it up and carry it to safety.

“Who are you?” Shauna asked.

“Corela,” she said.

She was still watching Shauna, who began to feel self-conscious. Shauna straightened the straps of her dress and ran her fingers through her hair—well, she tried to, but she got caught in a tangle. She yanked her hand free, pulling a few strands of brown hair with it.

Corela said nothing. She just watched.

“Look, I’m sorry I was looking over your shoulder,” Shauna said. “But I have to know. How did you do that?”

Corela cocked her head to the side. “Do what?”

Shauna frowned. “Everything you wrote came true. Within seconds.”

“Oh.” Corela looked back at her computer and continued typing.

Shauna couldn’t see what she had written, but the waitress came back with two blueberry muffins.

“On the house,” she said and walked away.

Corela took a muffin and bit into it. She gestured for Shauna to take the other. Shauna began eating it slowly, waiting for Corela to do something. She just kept typing, though Shauna didn’t notice anything strange happening.

“I write what I see,” said Corela finally. “I see what will happen in the next second. Sometimes minutes.”

“You don’t control it?”

Corela shook her head.

Shauna put down her muffin. “But how can that be? I wasn’t planning to sit here until you wrote that I did. And it was bright and sunny outside, how could it have started raining all of a sudden if you didn’t make it happen?”

Corela took a sip of her coffee. “I write what I see,” she repeated.

Shauna huffed. “So it wouldn’t work if you wrote ‘Someone gives me a million dollars’ without seeing it first?”

The corner of Corela’s lip twitched as if she were fighting a smile. She typed on her keyboard for a few seconds, then turned her laptop around to show Shauna.

Someone gives me a million dollars.

Nothing happened. No one walked up to them and offered Corela anything. The only mildly interesting thing that happened was the man who had the triple espresso ran into the garbage can on his way to the door. Shauna could almost see him vibrating.

“Huh,” Shauna said.

Corela took her computer back and continued writing.

Shauna couldn’t take her eyes off her. It wasn’t just Corela’s strange ability that drew her in, but everything else about her too: the curve of her lips, the sharpness of her eyes, the softness of her demeanor. She seemed like the kind of person you could trust with anything.

“So, what are you writing?” Shauna asked after taking a sip of her drink. Then she went back to her muffin.

“Us,” Corela said.

Shauna waited for her to elaborate, but she didn’t.

“What do you mean, ‘us?’” Shauna asked.

Corela smirked, but she didn’t say anything. She just kept writing.

Her silence and mysteriousness didn’t frustrate Shauna—it only intrigued her more. Corela was someone who was unapologetically herself, no matter what anyone else thought of her. Shauna admired that. She wanted to spend more time with her, learn more of her quirks. Find out who Corela really was. They’d only just met, but Shauna could tell that Corela was the kind of person she wanted to know.

She took the leap. “Do you want to get dinner sometime?”

Corela really smiled this time. She turned her laptop to show Shauna what she had written. There were a few long paragraphs on the page. Two lines at the bottom were highlighted, so Shauna figured that was what she was supposed to pay attention to.

Shauna asks me on a date.

Shauna read the last line at the same time as Corela spoke.

I say—


Tara Mann endeavors to live as a cat, but alas, she appears to be human. Mostly because cats can’t tap dance. Or sing The Phantom of the Opera.

We want to SEE your work

Applause publishes poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, visual art, and photography that exhibits practiced craft and polished style. We are interested in authentic and personal work that displays an understanding of craft and creativity. We want work that honors tradition and respects risks.