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Enjoy the scenery.
I wrote this as an experiment in literary devices. Not that I’m literary, but it seemed like a fun idea to play around with some of the toys laying around that I normally don’t think of when I’m actually writing. This piece has gone through several edits, and I really struggled with a title. I’ll let you decide if I got it right.
She’s lonely and she doesn’t want to be lonely. You look at her and see a successful, sexy woman with a hard exterior and that’s all you see. You don’t see the little girl inside whose daddy didn’t think she was good enough, or whose mother was eternally disappointed and indifferent by turns. She hides the damage done by the nasty “uncles” that came and went and by the bad choices made for her and the ones she made for herself. You see the chip on her shoulder but not the huge wound in her heart. You don’t think she has a heart.
Why should you see it? She doesn’t see it herself, and she has been building the layers, one at a time since she can remember. The layer of sarcasm, of indifference, the layer of cruelty all building up until she can’t feel anything anymore.
The little girl cries inside, inconsolable and alone.
“I love you” is meaningless and there is no such thing as permanence.
He sees her from across the bar, a cigarette in one hand and a martini in the other. She looks provocative; he takes a chance, little knowing she eats his kind for breakfast. His pick-up line is neither original nor funny.
She takes his measure through slitted eyes and watches him squirm. She isn’t afraid he will walk away; to the contrary, she knows she’s even more of a challenge in his eyes and she yawns. She is so bored by it all, the same routine. They’re all alike.
His ego stung by the yawn, he blurts out the unforgivable:
“What has happened to make you so cruel?”
She freezes, her eyes locked on to his. The jukebox blares on, unheard by either of them. He looks deep, and she flinches. He sees too much; that too is unforgivable. She’s angry with herself for being caught off-guard. She tries to tell him to move on, but to her horror, the words are stuck in her throat and won’t come loose.
He asks her to dance.
They move to the dance floor as if in a dream. She breathes in his scent. It triggers a feeling that is unfamiliar and yet most familiar; she avoids categorizing it, sensing it’s dangerous to do so. The arms around her are warm and comforting.
He’s careful to make no threatening moves. It’s rather like holding a tiny sparrow in his hands, and he sees her heart beating in the hollow of her throat. He’s intrigued and curious; she’s frozen and bewildered.
The music envelops them and she closes her eyes. He holds a little tighter and she allows this. The swaying motion is soothing to her, and she decides to enjoy it this once, for the moment. She lets her head drop to his shoulder.
For some reason his heart thumps in answer. He’s touched and somehow knows how difficult this is for her. He wonders what life has done to her to make her so afraid and raw. He’s unsure if he wants to know. He feels if he gives his heart to this one, she’d shred it without thinking twice, instinctively, and may or may not be sorry later.
She’s hoping the only thing he is after is what’s between her legs, and not between her ears or in her heart. She’s hoping that this longing for something indefinable by her standards will pass with another martini, or two, or six. The music ends; they stand locked in their embrace for a few beats longer, then part. She avoids his gaze and walks slowly back to the bar, wondering what to do. She knows deep down what she is going to do, struggling with what deep down in her heart she wishes she could do.
He follows her back to the bar, watching her hips swaying and her hair moving gently across her shoulders. He’s remembering a girl he once knew, a girl who needed something at one time and couldn’t find it with him. This girl finally found what she needed in a bottle of pills and a quart of vodka. The young man of yesterday dreams of redemption. He’s thinking over what he should do, struggling with what he knows he could do.
They take their seats at the bar. He studies her face and she avoids his gaze. She looks at the bartender and gives a tiny nod of her head, and the bartender starts to make her another martini. The bartender glances at the man at her side, and he nods. They wait in silence. It hangs between them, pregnant with the promise of something. Hope? Redemption? Atonement?
Her face is impassive, but he can see in the planes of her face both pain and eternity. The bartender brings their drinks over; she swallows half of hers and finally looks back at her companion. Now, he sees defiance and the demon inside waiting to break free in defense of its territory. He says nothing; after all, he approached her.
She sees understanding in his eyes, and it scares her. She doesn’t want anyone to understand, it means they have gotten too close. Close means access, and access means revelation, which in turn means vulnerable. She feels the warmth of his gaze upon her, and drawing on some small reserve of strength, meets it head-on.
He is impressed.
The alcohol burns in her stomach but the acceptance in his eyes burns hotter. She’s at a loss and he sees this, and takes her hand. He speaks softly, but the words are loud and reverberate in her heart.
“I want to know you.”
Tears start in her eyes, and myriad emotions tear through her.
You see a man and a woman seated at a bar, smoke dense in the air and the music blaring. They are both well dressed and you assume they’ve just gotten out of work. You figure they are just another professional couple, ready to take off and do the dirty dance of anonymous sex. You don’t see the potential or the hope of the situation; you can’t see the little girl yearning for validation or the young man needing redemption.
They are lonely, but they don’t want to be lonely.