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Rated: E · Short Story · Romance/Love · #2215996
She was everything I could ask for
It didn’t take much to catch my attention that night. Glancing over at me across the bar. Flashing me a smile in between drinks. Catching my eye as I pissed more and more money away on cheap pints. It was almost too easy to get me to notice her. I told myself to ignore it, don’t even think about it. “She’s probably looking at someone else,” said the little voice in my head “don’t embarrass yourself. Just focus on your pint for Christ’s sake.” Even still, my heart started doing jumping jacks inside my chest when I saw her coming my way.

And when she looked at me with that self-assured smirk, who was I to resist?

Oh yeah, she had me hook, line and sinker.

She looked incredible. Stunning really. Blonde hair cut short, very short. Not my usual preference but as she ran her hand through that shock of golden hair, I decided my preferences were in need of an update. Not to mention her eyes, or the mesmeric way they shimmered in the dim light of the overheads. Blue-grey, with that glint of mischief shining through, utterly unmissable. I was sold before she even opened her mouth. Not that she’d have to, the look in her eyes as she sat down next to me told me everything I wanted to know. Trying to ignore my heart pounding out dubstep in my chest, I managed a quick smile. I turned myself to better face her, crossing my legs to stop the restless jig they were dancing underneath the counter. Her hands brushed off the nape of my neck as she pulled me in close, whispering something in my ear. All I could think of was how little space there was between us and how static was dancing down my spine where the pads of her fingers kissed my neck. I can’t even remember what she said to me, I was too focused on remembering how to breathe. I whispered something back and she laughed. I wish I knew what I’d said, so I could say it again and make her laugh one more time.

Suddenly I was on my feet, worming my way through the crowd with her by my side. Pushing through other dancers and drinkers too wrapped up in themselves to notice us. The rhythmic pounding of the music was beginning to hurt my head, the beat echoing around inside my drunken skull. I shrugged it off and kept shuffling forward, letting her guide me by the hand, following that black dress through the sea of people. The bar was long gone now, left behind with my half-empty pint upon it. I didn’t care, it didn’t seem important anymore. What mattered more was finding our own little corner away from any pulsing music or prying eyes.

We found our spot eventually, a small booth nestled in beside the door to the smoking area. We had just sat down when a pair of men, hungry-eyed and with cigarettes and lighters in their hands passed us by on their way outside. They didn’t say anything but they smirked to each other and looked down their noses at us as they went. Probably wondering what the hell someone like her was doing with someone like me. I shrugged it off and twisted in my seat so my back was to the door. I felt a frigid rush of air as the door creaked open, followed by the clang of heavy metal as it closed. Even though they were outside, it felt like the smokers’ eyes were boring holes through the layers of concrete and wood and right into the back of my skull. The thought didn’t exactly put my nerves at ease.

I shook the feeling off and looked up to see a pair of eyebrows furrowed questioningly looking at me. I realised I must’ve let my thoughts show on my face, so I threw her a quick smile to reassure her and suggested we get another round of drinks. She agreed thankfully and within a few minutes, I had forgotten the smokers had even looked my way. Plenty more came and went through the door but I didn’t pay them any mind. For all I was concerned, my world consisted of the booth I was seated at and no further. I don’t even know how long we sat there for, it could’ve been 5 minutes or 5 hours and I wouldn’t have been able to tell you which. It felt like an eternity though. As if that conversation was in its own little bubble of time separate from everybody else.

After who knows how long, she got up, said something in my ear about having to meet her friends. She told me she’d come and find me again later on. I nodded, mumbling something in agreement and watched her as she grabbed her bag and stood up. As she was about to go, she turned and picked up my phone from the table. Holding it up in front of her, there was a flash. she threw it over to me with a wink, before slipping into the crowd. The last I saw of her was her was the lights glinting off her dress, the red fabric shimmering as it went. Something bugged me about it, a little nagging voice at the back of my mind that something wasn’t right.

I decided to get some air, hoping that it might clear my head a bit. I got up and shuffled my way towards the entrance, reeling from the drink. The whole time that voice was still chipping away at me. Taunting me. “Can’t you see it? It is so obvious, it really is.” it seemed to be saying, waiting for me to catch up. My mind was slow at best, moving sluggishly after the night of drinking. I knew there was something wrong though, I was sure of it. Something about that dress.

I’d made it to the door. Thank God. I stumbled my way towards it, desperate for the cold night air. I reached for the handle, about to open it when the voice spoke again. “The dress,” it said, “what colour was her dress?” My hand hovered above the handle, my palm almost touching it. “What colour was the dress?” it repeated, more forcefully this time. I pushed the door open, shoving myself through into the open air. The cold hit me as soon as I was outside, forcing its way into my lungs and making me gasp. I could see wispy clouds of my breath hanging in front of my face.

“The dress!” the voice demanded, almost shouting now “What colour was th-”

“I don’t know!”

“I don’t know,” I repeated, my voice sounded hollow and defeated. “I just don’t know”

My words hung in the air, suspended in the silence. The voice had no answer.

The truth was I didn’t know. That’s what had been bugging me. That as she walked off and I watched as that red dress shimmered and glinted as she went, was how black it had seemed before. I could’ve sworn it was black, not red. But now I wasn’t as sure. Leaning against the wall for support, I fumbled in my pockets for my phone. After fishing it out, I thumbed in the code and opened up my gallery. Only one way to be sure. The app loaded and I tapped onto the most recent photo, a selfie of woman.

It wasn’t her.

I looked down at my phone into a pair of eyes were far more brown than blue now. At hair that was a lot longer and a lot less blonde than it had seemed before. At features that looked so different from how they had at the bar. Gone were the blue-grey eyes and the short golden hair. Gone was the black dress. Gone was the girl I thought I’d spent the night with. But there she was. Plain as day. how could I have thought her hair was blonde? How could I have missed those auburn curls? I tried to remember back to the bar, to cast myself back to what she looked like, but I couldn’t. Those features, that face that seemed so certain before, so unmissable, were now unreadable. Trying to see her face was like looking at a photo at the bottom of a puddle; murky and indistinct, with every movement muddying the water further. How could I not remember her?

“Because you never even saw her in the first place.” said the voice, answering my unspoken question.

I wanted to say it was wrong, that it was lying, anything to tell the voice otherwise, but I couldn’t. I knew it was the truth. I don’t think I did see her, not really, not properly. Because maybe it was less important to me what she looked like, and more important that she was there and that she was willing. I tried to tell myself that it was the drink’s fault, that I was more than a little drunk and that I couldn’t be expected to remember her face when I was like that. But it didn’t sit right with me, I knew I was lying to myself. Something to make me feel better about myself. An excuse. I felt like getting sick. Not from the alcohol, but from the deep, sinking feeling in the pits of my stomach, like liquid lead was coursing down my throat.

The voice spoke, and though it only said four words I felt like I had been punched in the gut.

“What was her name?” it asked.

I wanted to say something, anything at all, but I couldn’t make a sound. Every time I opened my mouth, my words failed and my throat seized as if there was a hand on my neck. The cold, quiet grip of shame.

I hadn’t even asked.

Or maybe I did, and I didn’t care enough to remember.
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