One More Drink

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“One more drink.” The thought came to him clear as day, the voice in his head not nearly as sloshed as the voice which was coming from his mouth. He hesitated. Glancing at his glass, he observed the oversized ice cubes melting and molding together, as though they were playing a game of Tetris.

A bartender walked past. She glanced at his glass, but didn’t pause to ask if he wanted another. “Bitch,” he thought silently to himself. She had been ignoring him all night. Thank God there were two of them working.

Brian’s memories wandered to the week before. It had been his first time in this place. His other “usual” spot needed some air – a brief separation period. He’d heckled the patrons one too many times they said as they carried him out the front door, leaving him cold and alone in the gravel lot. They’d change their minds. He was just having fun – livening things up a bit. Everyone around here was so uptight.

It was just after that, stumbling home on the long, dark stretch of highway, that he found this bar. He caught the eye of the female bartender right away and she’d smiled. He’d felt his heart stop briefly in his chest before it hammered back to life. His mouth felt dry. She was gorgeous with a full face, brown eyes, and a low-cut shirt showing just the right amount of her ample bosom.

As he sat on a barstool that night, he’d slurred his way though an order. She’d only brought him water saying it was on the house. He’d thrown it at her.

They’d dragged him out quickly, but this time he had waited. He was sorry. He hadn’t meant to throw the water at her it was an accident. Sometimes, he just got so angry when people treated him like a drunk. He wasn’t a drunk. He just enjoyed having fun – and there was a difference.

When she came out, likely to drive herself home, he’d tried to apologize but she began to scream. Afraid someone would call the cops, he’d run away.

He snapped back to the present. He’d shaved his beard and cut his hair so he wouldn’t be recognized tonight. He could tell that he still gave her an uneasy feeling, but one that she couldn’t quite place. She’d know soon enough. This time, he wouldn’t give her time to scream. This time, he’d be ready. After all, if they were going to call the police and have him thrown into jail, he may as well make it well worth the time.

First, however, he needed one last drink. He signaled with his index finger. The male bartender, who had been leaning against the counter simply nodded, reached for a small glass, tossed in some ice and began to pour.

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As If It Were Over

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He had loved her. She had loved him back with all of her heart. The note still clung to the kitchen counter, a reminder of what she’d meant to him. Her patio door was open, a soft breeze rustling through the family room. She could hear birds chirping as they greeted the dawn. Their day was just beginning – how did hers already feel as if it were over?

The call had come early. She’d been awake but lying still in the bed, one leg still wrapped in blankets as sun crept around the curtains. She’d ignored the shrill ring of the phone at first, willing it to stop. It did. Almost immediately it began again. Sighing in frustration, she’d rolled herself over, straining to reach the receiver with her fingertips. She didn’t recognize the number, but answered despite this. Whoever was on the other end of the line was persistent. There would be no easing their mind until she acknowledged them.

The news had come out harsh and rushed – far more callous than the caller had intended. For you see, the caller was only now coming to grips with the reality of it all and could not be blamed for careless delivery in such a situation.

Jolted awake by the message, she now stood wrapped in a simple robe fingering the message he’d left behind. The soft breeze rustled through the family room. She could hear birds chirping as they greeted the dawn. Their day was just beginning- how did hers already feel as if it were over?

New Beginnings

I’m excited to say that I’ll be starting up 365 with a Twist again! It won’t be a full 365 day project. I’ll try to post a photo and a short story once or twice per week. My ultimate goal is to improve my photog skills as well as come up with some new writing material. In case you hadn’t heard, this blog helped me create characters for my first books! Those can be found here:

http://www.allisonjanda.com

I hope you enjoy this journey with me and always feel free to reach out with comments and questions.

XO

AJ

 

 

She’s A Fool

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“Who is she?” Jill could hear her voice on the edge of hysteria, but she couldn’t stop the words from falling out of her mouth. It felt surreal, standing here. She’d been joking, after all. It was meant to be friendly. That’s what they were now after all – friends. Except he’d just laughed nervously and dodged the question…which could only mean one thing.

She credited him with all that she was but didn’t realize she’d been doing so until this exact moment. Jill suddenly understood what it meant to experience something as if you were no longer in your body, but above it, a free party, untethered. It was like when she realized he’d slept with someone else, her entire identity was wiped clean away.

He’d built her up, pushed her to her limits, and made her feel like she was meaningful. Like her life and her ideas and her efforts were worth sharing with the world. They’d decided they were better apart – or he had. But perhaps she was the one who had said it? She couldn’t really recall in this exact moment.

But she knew that, that night they had spoken, deep in conversation like only true lovers do. They’d cried together, then laughed together, holding hands and stealing looks as though they were young and afraid of the unknown. Could they let go?

Then they had gently kissed goodbye. It hadn’t been so difficult or dramatic. They’d remain close – it was unsaid but understood clearly by both.

And they’d continued on, as just friends. Or so she told herself and anyone else who asked. They were so right – but something was missing. She wanted to be desired – and was that so much to ask? To be loved as fiercely and as deeply as she had loved?

She’d accepted what he could offer her, then. Friendship. They’d continued to be confidants. Or had just she? Had he ever truly confided in her – told her things he’d never told anyone? She couldn’t think.

“Who is she?” she asked again. Damn it, her voice had broken. She’d meant to come off prideful, strong, self-assured. Anything but weak. Had she met this woman? Perhaps Jill had just been a pathetic fool, unable to read the writing on the wall. Had he been obvious about his growing attraction for another?

She could feel that she was curling into herself like a small, lost child. Her heart was breaking right in front of him, but he remained stone faced. Pity, she realized was what was filling his eyes, which made it all the more difficult to keep her pride in tact. She clenched the muscles in her neck, willing herself to remain strong.

“I don’t think I have to tell you that,” he answered coldly, his eyes completely devoid of emotion.

He may as well have slapped her, then. It’s not like he owed her – they were no longer together. And yet, he’d remained deeply rooted inside her heart. She thought the feeling was mutual. That with time and space, they’d slowly move on together. He’d led her to believe so. Asking her out for dinners and day trips. Being her cheerleader. Driving them places together. Spending time with her in coffee shops, quietly reading or working next to one another. Accepting too her invitations. The last few months were like the previous years they’d known each other- but with nothing more than emotional intimacy.

Blood rushed into her ears until she could no longer hear the soft wind, the gentle snow as it cascaded around her, falling at her feet along with her pride. He leaned casually on the car window, his arm relaxed but his hand clamped tightly around the leather as though he was trying to keep something from her.

Only two months prior she’d been “The One.” His one. The ring. Her mind flew to it, clinging on to it, desperate to prove that this wasn’t all in her head. They’d had something real. She had tangible proof of how he’d felt. “You gave me a promise ring,” she sputtered, the words sounding foreign on her tongue.

He scoffed, his eyes once again brimming with pity. It filled her with a yearning to understand the truth. Did she not deserve that, at least, from her friend? “How long?” She asked, her voice shaking. She could feel the tears welling up behind her eyes, but willed them to stay put.

“What?” He seemed surprised, unsure of how to answer the question. His hand clenched tighter against the leather. Their conversation was halting. Casual. Dotted and dancing around the other’s words, unsure of where a land mine might lay – he didn’t answer right away, processing her question.

“How long?” She asked again, more assuredly. She already knew the answer. Her hands balled into fists, then relaxed. Fists. Relaxed.

He was considering lying to her. She recognized it in his eyes, but ultimately he opted for truth. “She’s someone I’ve known a few years. “ He paused, his eyes remaining completely dull. “Back home.”

Her heart began to crumble. This was no casual dalliance that had picked up in the last week or even the last month. This was not sudden – not a fleeting tug of the heart that she’d be hurt by but could understand.

He’d deliberately deceived her. Ongoing. For months. “Never speak to me again,” she whispered, clutching her chest. The only words she could think to wheeze at him just before Jill felt herself stumble back. Nodding, then shaking her head, she marched with as much dignity as remained within her to her front door. She heard his car backing away, a soft crunch in the snow before she’d even made it inside. She could lose it now.

He wouldn’t look back. He didn’t even call out. Then again, he’d done this before, hadn’t he? Let her go. Not come after her. How could she not have known then?

Her hands began to shake wildly as she tried to place the key in the lock. Finally steadying one hand with the other, she let herself through the door.

Inside, her legs gave way beneath her. She felt tears, fat and hot, begin to stream down her face, her mouth open in a silent “O” of anguish and she clawed for something- anything to keep her upright. Nothing was there to catch her. Slowly, she sank to the floor. Without realizing it was happening, a low mew escaped her throat. Then, without warning, a loud, pained sob. Her chest hurt so much she struggled for breath. A heart could truly break – she was sure of it now. It was invested in him and she hadn’t even known – how had she not known her own heart?

No wonder he’d become so distant and homesick the month before they’d parted. She thought he’d just needed his space – that he was a loner, as he’d always claimed. It was her fault – she was suffocating him. She’d let him go. Better to let a bird go free than die of sadness behind bars.

In fact, he’d become hungry for someone else.

Yet he’d led her to believe that they were still friends. That he loved her. That he respected her. That she was special if not to everyone than to someone. He was a master magician, knowing just what tricks would attract her attention while acting out the real magic right under her nose.

But she’d been a fool. And he’d allowed her to be foolish. But while she always said she was fine with their arrangement, hadn’t all of her actions and words and flirtations meant otherwise? Hadn’t he said he loved her too? And whether he did or he didn’t, did she not have the right to not be led to think so?

And he’d had the nerve to look at her in a way that suggested she was crazy – pathetic, even.

But she wasn’t crazy. She’d been played. Willingly. Blindly. Women rarely were paranoid- they were just made to feel so by then men that didn’t deserve their affections.

Where did she go from here?

Planting

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Shadows lay softly across the ground, begging quietly for warmer sun. Winter had been too long, plants left brown and dead, unsure of when their days could officially be considered “spring.” Gillian lay quietly among them, absorbing what little light she could get before the clouds from the north once again blanketed the sky. She wanted to stay here, silent, until a new day arrived. It had all been too much. Left alone with her thoughts, she couldn’t help but wonder where she’d be if everything had happened differently.

Bridges

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It wasn’t an overly refreshing sight. The water was dark and murky while the trees stood dead against the cold gray sky. Still, it was obvious that this was where they were supposed to meet. Secluded and all but abandoned, no one would come across them here and witness as they exchanged their hand-offs. He waited, a shadow against the afternoon with hands shoved deep into the pockets of his jeans. Pacing, he tightened and loosed his limbs in an effort to reduce the cold. How much longer was he going to have to wait? Nerves were slowly kicking in.

Breakable

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Why did everything she touch break? It was almost as if she loved it all too much. Perhaps she wasn’t supposed to care about the things she could hold in her hands so much as she did the experiences. Perhaps life was just trying to teach her a lesson. Still, as she gently ran her fingers over the foundation of the stable, it was hard to not take it personally. Effort had gone into her attainments including long hours and late nights. Wasn’t this supposed to be her experience, her escape? Had she just taken too long to realize it?