I hope you’ve enjoyed the stories up to this point. We are still continuing with the prompt to write a short story, no longer than 1500 words, based on lyrics from your favorite song. Watch the videos so you have a better understanding of the story.
It’s almost midnight on a Saturday, and the young girl, well she’s not so young anymore, sits on her bar stool, fondling a bottle of beer. The barroom swells with people, but she sits alone. It used to be she came here to wait for someone, it really didn’t matter who, but that was a long time ago, and she knows there’s no one, no one who cares if she comes or if she goes. In this room full of people, she realizes she’s somebody nobody knows. Invisible to the world.
There was a time when she sat on a bar stool, just like this one, and the image in the mirror reflected streaks of makeup running down both cheeks, and it made her cry all the more. But she stopped putting on makeup when she realized it was only herself she tried to fool. And the well of tears had long since gone dry.
Molly left her family a few years ago, and she still doesn’t understand why. It must be genetics. Her father—she recalls his name being Michael—ran off and left her and her mother when she was a young girl. I guess she just returned the favor. She hates her father and she hates herself for the same reason.
As she sits and sips on her now warm beer, she occasionally glances in the mirror and catches herself peering back at the men, seemingly enjoying life, no more than a few feet behind her. Men who don’t know she exists. Now and then, while she stares, her eyes catch the eyes of one of the men. And when it happens, he quickly turns his gaze, and it’s painfully obvious to her that he’s not yet drunk enough to be interested.
Tonight, however, there is one man. She finds herself staring at him, and notices him staring back, but, unlike the others, he doesn’t avert his eyes. It’s strange. The cigarette smoke clouds her vision, but the man is somehow familiar. But she can’t place him. He’s a much older man, who appears road weary. At first she assumes his age at seventy or more, but upon closer inspection, she realizes he must be ten years younger. And it occurs to her, the same could be said for her. She could never pass for the thirty-five she is.
His eyes, though tired, give him away, appearing much younger than his face. She recognizes those eyes. But who and where? Too many long nights with too much alcohol and too many drugs. Her mind is gone and the memory with it. If she could only remember.
She’s someone’s daughter. Yet, no claim has been filed.
The old man’s hands shake as he lifts the glass of whiskey to his lips. He sits alone at a table in the corner of the barroom. People pass him, but no one sees him. He’s in a world of his own. One that he created.
He wasn’t always alone, but when he left his family, the loneliness became part of the deal. As lonesome as he is, he has no regrets. Not for nothing he’s done. He’s given up searching for something he could never find. The life he’s lived is something that will be easy to leave behind, and there won’t be anyone who will mourn or miss him when he’s gone.
Across the room he observes the barflies, as they sit and drink and stare with blank faces into the mirror that hangs on the wall. He notices at the end of the bar, sitting alone, a young girl. At least she appears young to him. She might be the age of his daughter. What was her name? Molly? But he’s long forgotten birthday’s and faces and walks in the park.
It’s odd, but he notices the girl staring at him, and he can’t help himself and returns her gaze. She seems familiar. Funny, after a few drinks everyone seems familiar. But this time it’s different. He feels as if he knows her. But who and where? Too many nights of booze and drugs have addled his mind and he can’t remember yesterday, let alone memories from his past. Maybe one more drink and then he’ll be on his way.
He’s someone’s father. Yet, he abdicated that role long ago.
The lights go down a notch, a signal to the remaining patrons that the bar is about to close, and it’s time to go. For most of them, they have someplace to go, but they would rather stay here. The old man is the first one out the door, followed by a number of others. He staggers from the alcohol, but it’s not only the booze. He’s abused his body over the years, and each step is accompanied by debilitating pain.
Outside in the cool night air, something down the alley catches the old man’s attention, and he trips on the uneven sidewalk and falls face first into the gutter. His lips kiss the cold, hard pavement, and the world is unaware. The late crowd shuffles by, and not one of them takes the time to look down where he lay, as he struggles to get back to his feet. Lying in the wet, filthy gutter, absent-minded, he attempts to wipe the stains from his clothes. But why? He can’t expect to remove stains that have become embedded in his shabby clothes for far too many years.
Just outside the door, Molly stands with her back against the wall and lights up a smoke, and observes the scene unfold. She sees the old man stagger away and watches him fall into the gutter. And she feels nothing. When she notices the others file by without so much as a glance toward the helpless man, she imagines him being a piece of litter the world threw away. Once, it would have broken her heart and she would have gone to him, but her heart has long since hardened to stone, and like the others, she turns and walks away.
After Michael regains his feet, he shuffles and staggers to his waiting, one room apartment. To a life he can’t blame on anybody else. For his life, the one he had coming to him. In the darkened room, it’s just him and his bottle. A familiar old friend. His only friend. In a city where nobody cares if he dies alone.
Molly has arrived home, and after dropping her keys onto a small table next to a ratty old couch, she picks up a weathered photograph and stares at it. It’s a photo of a man and a girl. They sit happily together on a park bench. The day is sunny and they both wear big smiles. She gazes at the picture. She focuses on the man. His eyes look so familiar. She wants them to, but the tears won’t come. But still she cries. And no one hears.
Ron Bay has been writing for seven years and has published four books, Lost Highway, The Boat, Little Heathens and Always a Little Heathen and you can follow him on his blog at Mischievous Musings. He lives near Chicago with his wife Julie and labradoodle, Michaleen O. Flynn.
We don’t talk anymore
Thomas watched Kate throw her clothes into her suitcase, “I don’t understand, why are you leaving. Please talk to me Kate.”
“That’s just it we don’t talk anymore, do we?”
“Of course we do, we’re always talking about anything and everything.”
Thomas shook his head “I thought we were great, the perfect couple, I can’t believe you’d throw what we have away.”
“What do you think we have?”
“We love each other, laugh at the same jokes, we’re saving to buy our first house. I’ve been nearly killing myself at work so we’d get a deposit, and be able to buy one of those starter homes we’ve been looking at.”
“We never go out, I haven’t had a new top for months. You come in from work at all hours and fall asleep. When was the last time we made love?”
Thomas frowned, surely they’d made love last week? “Last Saturday night.”
Kate laughed “A quickie because you had to be in work at seven o’clock on Sunday. You were asleep before you turned your back on me. All our friends were at a concert, then a club. They’ve stopped asking us to join them because you won’t spend any money.”
“We’re saving to buy a house. I thought that was important to you.”
“I used to think I was important to you, but no, all you care about is buying a bloody house.”
“No it isn’t, I’m doing it for us, for our future. Come on Kate don’t throw everything we have away. All our friends say we’re perfect together. Remember when we met and both instantly felt that attraction. For me it was love at first sight, you told me when you were with me you knew you’d never feel lonely again.”
“Well I’ve been feeling lonely for months, since you started working all those stupid hours. I’m sick of being by myself every night. I feel guilty if I spend anything on myself. We haven’t eaten out for ages, and I’m sick of the Saturday food shop, every week looking for the cheapest things, then having to cook every night.”
“But why didn’t you say anything?”
“I tried, but whenever I thought I’d say something you fell asleep before I could.” Kate shook her head in exasperation as she remembered the nights sitting waiting for him, with things to tell him, work gossip, or how someone or other, had hardly had time to speak to her, when they’d been best friends before she met Thomas.
“Ok, well, then let’s start again. I’ll stop doing so many extra hours and we’ll go out on a Friday night and for a day out on Saturday, after we’ve done the shopping, or you could do it on your way home from work, that would give us the whole day to do nothing.”
Kate looked at him in exasperation, when had he become so old. Not physically, he was still good looking, not quite as buff as he’d been when they first met, but still attractive. Then she caught sight of herself in the mirror and her resolve hardened. She looked sour and not as well made up or dressed as she used to be. He was making her old too.
“It’s no good Thom, I don’t feel the same anymore. I’m going and I won’t be back.”
“If you leave don’t think I’ll have you back, when you discover it’s no fun by yourself at your age. All your friends are in couples or married with kids. Who do you think will have you? You’re approaching thirty fast, nearly over the hill.”
His attack hardened her mind even further, she sighed as she zipped her case up and looked around the small studio apartment that had been her home for three years. They’d moved in with such big ideas, made love like rabbits for months, gone out and got drunk with their friends, had long lazy weekends when, if they didn’t feel like it they’d do nothing, or party the weekend away, nursing their hangovers until midweek. Then Thomas had asked her to marry him and she’d said yes. The first inkling of how it would become should have warned her, he’d said that they didn’t need expensive rings to show how much they cared for each other and had bought her a tiny Pandora ring, very pretty but not really an engagement ring. All her friends, who got engaged, showed off, their diamonds sparkling in the light, and she’d said that they were being sensible, she agreed with him absolutely that the money saved would go a long way towards a deposit for a house.
Then one day she bought herself a dress, in the sales, and he’d gone on and on about it. “Just a year of doing without and we’ll buy our own place,” he’d said.
It was now two years later, they still didn’t have enough for a deposit, house prices were rising faster than they could save and she was thoroughly sick of making do. All her colleagues at work, a makeup counter in Boots, talked non stop about nights out, holidays, new clothes and how they were always penniless at the end of the month, but they still continued to enjoy themselves, while she trailed home to an empty flat every night cooked a cheap meal and waited for Thomas to come in from work. He’d hardly speak, ate his food and rolled into bed, then he’d be up next morning and out before she even woke up.
She’d thought she was lonely, sometimes, before she met him, especially when her close friends got new boyfriends and didn’t want to go out with her, but there was always some of them who were between fellas. Now, although she was with Thomas, she realised that she knew what real loneliness was, sitting at home night after night hoping that he’d be talkative and loving when he got in, but he was just too tired. He didn’t even kiss her goodbye or hello anymore, come to think of it she couldn’t remember the last time he’d just kissed her. Now it was a quick kiss before sex, usually leaving her feeling empty and unloved.
“Yes I know how old I am, which is why I’m leaving you. You’re making me old before my time and I want a happy medium, some enjoyment as well as looking to the future.”
“Ok, go, but remember nearly all the money we saved is mine.”
“I couldn’t care less about the money, just give me what you think I put in.”
“That’s just typical of you, you’ll never have anything with an attitude like that. We need to work it out properly.”
Kate sighed “Ok, work it out to the last penny, I’ve told you I can’t take anymore,” she picked up her case and without another look at the flat she’d moved into with such excitement, justify.
Thomas couldn’t believe it, she’d be back with her tail between her legs, she wouldn’t find anyone as good as him, so he wouldn’t lose any sleep over her. Then he stood in the middle of the tiny studio apartment wondering what had got into her.
Jilly Bowling started writing in 2012 and her first book was published in 2014. So far five books of her books have been published by AndrewsUk, three as ebooks and two as both ebook and paperback. She has just had a sixth accepted which hopefully will be out soon. To learn more about her, just Google Jilly Bowling.
Loneliness and Broken Dreams,