WHO

A Short Story By

Ida Margarita Nieves

September 27, 2019

She walked in the door. The smell of sweat hung in the air. Some loud, unfamiliar techno song blasted throughout the room as people talked and drank and danced and kissed.

Rebecca took it all in. No immediate thoughts came into her head, except she was there… and she wasn't quite sure why she was.

"ID Please!" some big, burly, stealthy guy standing there in the dark barked at her.

She laughed to herself. At 35, She was still young looking enough to get carded.

"Sure…" She said with a smile as she fumbled through her purse "…. here you go."

Mr. Burly Stealthy Guy shined a flashlight on the ID, then in her face. Giving it back to her, he waved her on through. She never took her eyes away as she made her way in.

It all seemed so electric, hand in hand with the way she had been feeling as of late. Noisy. Raucous. Vibrant. It wasn't a normal feeling. In fact, it wasn't like her at all.

Heads - male and female – turned as she slowly walked through the crowd. She was glad for it, and smiled to herself. Proudly. When she had decided to go out, she knew it had been a long time. She had been out of practice, but it was like riding a bicycle. Looking through her closet, she found a red V neck lace camisole, her black mini pencil skirt, and a pair of black stiletto heels. They were perfect! It wasn't too long before she was standing in front of the mirror examining herself. She was happy with what she saw. The outfit she

chose hugged every inch and curve of her in all the right places. Her heels complimented her long legs. Her dark brown hair hung perfectly along her shoulders, right side pinned back by a gold hair clip that complimented the touch

1

of jewelry she wore. Her face was fresh and clean, a natural smokey eye bringing

out the brightness of her brown eyes, the wine color of her lips soft and moist

"Wow…" She said to herself. "…that's me".

That was a "me" she hadn't seen in a long time. One she had put away and thought would never show up again. Tonight, though, she showed up with a vengeance. She couldn't keep her inside anymore.

So, she made her way out, and down to her neighborhood bar, Dorian's.

Once there, she found a seat, sat down, and took a breath. She had not planned on doing something like this when she got up this morning to go to work. In her mind, it was just another Friday at the office answering phone calls and emails and dealing with clients. Nothing unusual had happened at all, but it had been busy. By 6 O' Clock she was looking forward to a quiet night alone watching movies and eating Chinese.

That's how life had been for her as of late. Quiet. Unusual. Predictable. Things had slowed down a lot in her life. Things happen. Life happens. Work had taken over as a priority. Her so called friends had stopped asking to make plans. She had no one special in her life. She was alone, she felt alone…..and she knew it.

Sure, she could be bitter. She could blame her friends. She could blame herself. She could blame the world. Instead, she held it in, closed herself off, and lived what she called her life.

"Aren't you lonely sweetheart?" Her mother asked whenever they spoke. "You know your Father and I would love to see our grandchild someday soon."

"No Mom, I'm not. And we talked about this. My work keeps me pretty busy. Now is not a great time." She would say in the hopes that both her parents would understand.

2

More so as of late, she felt she was saying it in an attempt to convince herself. "But of what though?" She thought to herself as the techno music pounded into her thoughts. She had forgotten how loud bars could be.

A few feet away, the bartender, who had been wiping down a glass at his counter, turned around and noticed her. He smiled, went up to her, and asked:

"What can I get you?'

"Huh?" She said acknowledging him as she brought her thoughts back around again.

"Would you like a drink?" He asked again.

"Oh….sure….uuhhmm, a Long Island Iced Tea please." She managed.

The bartender smiled again.

"Coming right up."

She breathed a sigh of relief as he went to go fix her drink. A drink would settle her last-minute jitters. She had come this far. She just needed to relax. Soon enough he returned with her drink.

"Thanks." She said with a smile as she brought the glass to her lips and took a deep drought. The liquid was comforting. It was familiar. It was just strong enough. A few more of these and she would forget about everything.

"So, I haven't seen you around here before." He said wiping down the counter in front of her.

She took another sip of her drink, put it down, and thought "Is he really trying to make small talk?" She laughed.

"Haven't been here before. Decided to explore the neighborhood a bit."

3

She said.

He laughed.

"Ah, I see. Find anything interesting yet?"

She picked up her glass again, taking another long sip.

"Honestly, not yet." She said

"Well, Dorian's is pretty cool. People are generally respectful, and it doesn't get too crazy." He said.

"I see. I take it you're here quite a lot." She said with interest. At least he seemed easy to talk to.

"Pretty much here Thursdaya through Sundays, and have my regulars. That's how I could tell I hadn't seen you before. My name is Matt." He said warmly.

She looked at him. "Matt…..must be short for Matthew." She thought to herself. She hadn't taken the time to notice him, but now she did. He was tall, lean, had short light brown hair which was just tousled in the most perfect way and deep brown eyes. His smile was nice too.

"My name is Rebecca." She said.

"Well, nice to meet you Rebecca, and welcome to our fine little establishment." Matt said with a twinkle in his eye.

She laughed and took another sip. "Thank you, kind Sir, and cheers." She finished off her drink in one gulp, saluting him.

4

She was at ease. He was putting her at ease. True, it was probably part of the job. She could at least pretend for a little while. It felt nice. It felt different. It felt good.

The Music Pounded. People were out on the floor. It was getting crowded and louder. A lot of people were starting to come up to the bar. She sat there looking and listening as people came and ordered drinks. Small talk like "How do you do's", "How much do I owe you's?" all became a blur. Time seemed to be going by.

She wasn't sure how long she sat there, but after a while she asked for another drink. She felt silly just sitting there twiddling her thumbs. She looked around. "What am I doing here?" She thought to herself all of a sudden.

Everybody looked so happy, so put together. Enjoying themselves without a care in the world. They were having fun, meeting people like it was normal. What was her normal?

Matt must have sensed a change in her demeanor, and asked her,

"Are You alright?"

She took a second before answering.

"Oh….uuuhm….yeah. Sorry. I think these drinks are getting to me."

She was far from drunk. In fact, she was very sober….and ready to leave. What was she thinking putting herself through this. She didn't belong here. Truly, what was she looking for? This wouldn't make her happy. This wasn't her.

"Oh. Will you be ok?" He asked with genuine concern in his voice.

She took a deep breathe. He was being so nice. "I think so. I'm going to go

5

get some air."

"Look, if you would like, I can call a cab to get you home." He said.

She got up from her seat. "No, I think it will be ok. Besides, I don't live too far from here. 15 minutes or so. But thanks." She managed to smile sweetly while wanting to just run out of there.

"Are you sure" He asked, all business.

"Yes. I'll take my time. I'll get some air first though, while I still have my legs." She laughed. "Thank you, though. It was nice meeting you ." She put out her hand in an effort to be nice, respectful, and grateful. She hoped he would take it.

Matt looked at her and smiled, taking her hand. She felt an immediate sense of relief.

"It was a pleasure meeting you Rebecca. Glad you stopped by. Don't be a stranger." He was being genuinely sweet. This wasn't part of the job. How ironic though his choice of words. He had no clue how much of stranger she was.

"Goodbye." She said slowly letting go of his hand.

Gathering her thoughts, purse in hand, she quickly made her way out of the bar and away from the crush of reality settling in. Once out the door she stopped. She looked around. There was no one there. She took that breathe of fresh air. Closing her eyes, she realized how alone she really was—and lost.

She felt the sting of tears come to her eyes. Walking away in the dark, she did her best to fight them back.

6