Old Flame.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short piece about ending up alone.

Submitted: March 26, 2008

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Submitted: March 26, 2008

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OLD FLAME.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was listening to the radio in our small lounge when she came in after her bath. She was wearing her light green towelling robe and in her hand she brandished a pair of nail clippers.

I had a glass of wine and I asked her if she too would like a glass.

“No I’m okay.”

“Sure?”

“You drink to much.”

“Do I?”

“Yes.”

“Since when?”

“Since always.”

“I see.”

“I wish you did.”

She got herself on a chair and the robe fell open revealing to me her legs which were probably the best legs I’d ever seen. Above the legs was the belly which wasn’t too firm anymore. Little rolls of flesh like creamy waves had formed and they hung down quite useless and I noticed them and they made me sad.

I took a drink and looked upwards towards her neck which too had aged and her chin that had another just like it below. These too made me sad, sad because I’d only just noticed it all, the change. And it made me feel different too, different and sad.

I loved her feet. She began clipping her toenails, snip, snip, snip.

“So what are you up to this evening?” she asked not looking away from her feet. She wore a deep frown from concentrating.

“Nothing much, I’m broke until payday.”

“What’s new.”

“Don’t.”

“Don’t what?”

“Don’t lets argue.”

“Were not.”

“We will be if you don’t stop it.”

“Well I’m sick of you and I have to voice it.”

“Fuck it!”

“What?”

I splashed some cold water on my face and put on a clean shirt and headed out the house to a bar I frequented when evenings turned out like this.

The music was on but not too loud and there was plenty of space as it was a big bar.

Anita was working and she had a new guy with her learning, it looked like his first shift, he had that over-wide silly smile people have when their nervous and aren’t sure.

I’d known Anita on and off now for about a year, from coming in the bar mainly but I’d seen her in other places too. In town shopping, in the supermarket, and she’d always stop and chat with me and sometimes flirt because I think she liked me in that way, I think I liked her too but I wasn’t sure. It always seemed easy with her though I do know that, the conversation I mean, it always flowed nice and easy and we always seemed to smile with no real effort. Proper smiles.

“Hi Frank,” she said as I sat down at the bar.

“Hi Anita.”

Anita was a bit younger than me, maybe fifteen years or so but I wasn’t sure for definite. I liked the way she looked though, the way she moved.

I had my last twenty pounds in my back pocket. I had a Guinness with a Bushmill’s on the side and the newspaper spread out in-front of me for company.

The music was bluesy and slow and fitted in well with the mood of the place. I turned a few pages but wasn’t really interested in what was going off in the world. I lit a cigarette and took a drink, caught my reflection in the back-bar mirror.

“Howz the new guy doing?” I asked Anita when she came over with a glass of red wine in her hand. Anita always had a glass of wine in her hand whilst she worked, I wondered sometimes how she got away with it. But she never appeared worst for wear. Always held her composure well, a good level most of the time.

“He’s doing okay, just needs to relax a little. He’s used to working in the centre of town, in the busy places, when he first came in it was like he’d just been shot out the end of a gun.”

I started to chuckle.

“Its not funny Frank. You should have seen him, smiling like a maniac.”

I carried on chuckling and she slapped my arm softly.

“I mean it,” she said smirking herself.

We both watched the new guy for a little while. He was making Irish coffee’s for a couple of lovers.

“If he was anymore concentrated he’d set the those things on fire,” I said and suddenly we both broke up laughing. New guy turned from his Irish coffee’s which looked like the best Irish coffee’s I’d ever seen. He frowned at us.

The evening wore on and the place filled up a little then thinned back out again. Anita started wiping tables down, emptying ashtrays. I watched her work. She started wiping an area down just near me, I felt something between us, I wondered if she did.

I’d had a few drinks, four I think. I didn’t have much left. She looked up from her work and I was staring. She didn’t smile, I wasn’t smiling either.

“Want to go out afterwards?” she asked.

“Yeah, sure.” I don’t know what came over me but I felt like there was no other possible reply.

 

I helped her and the new guy who turned out to be quite a nice guy called Chris, stack the tables on top of the chairs. This didn’t take too long and pretty soon we were both saying goodnight to Chris and wishing him a safe trip home.

I watched his bulky uneasy frame move off down the street as Anita dropped the lights in the bar and asked me if I was ready to leave.

“Sure,” I replied feeling a little uneasy but also confident.

She locked the big door and we set off walking slowly.

“Where do you have in mind?” I asked.

“A little place we’ll have to take a taxi to but it’s a nice place. I go there sometimes if I want to unwind after a busy shift. They play good music and the staff are friendly.” A smile crossed her face and she was staring at me again. “You’ll like it.”

It was getting late, and I knew I should really head back home. But I went anyway. The force taking me there was greater than the one that wanted to take me home.

Anita bought the beers and I found us a table, The place was busy and lively with students and people who’d just finished their work. Mainly hotel and restaurant staff.

There was a band playing in a corner but I didn’t really care for them. The girl on bass was rather nice but the guy singing simply couldn’t.

She came over with the beers and sat down smiling. She handed me one and I instantly drank quite a lot of it down in one go. She sipped at hers then lit a cigarette.

“You want one Frank?” she asked.

  “I’ve got some,” I said.

“No please take one,” she insisted.

I took one and lit it and we both sat there smoking and drinking. Quite often Anita would turn and look at me with that smile of hers, the type of smile that seemed to make everything okay. She relaxed me and made me feel good about myself, it’d been a while.

 

I left Kate and moved in with Anita.

The first four months were glorious. No arguing, no fighting, no wrong words really. As close as I have ever been to harmony with a woman I’d say.

It seemed like magic really. And she didn’t mind me going out and coming in at all hours, she was really easy about that kind of stuff. And she did her thing as well with her friends, coming and going as she pleased. And I didn’t mind.

  Then I came in from work one evening and looked at her and it had changed. Just like that. I felt nothing, and I was pretty sure she felt the same.

She turned from what she was doing and looked at me. Yep, we both felt the same. It had died on us and it had come out of nowhere. I wondered how it just happened, just like that.

But it had. We’d made some good love and laughed a lot but it was over. I stepped towards the big lounge window and wondered what next.

We went through those break-up motions. The packing and hugging with a little desperate sex thrown in for old times sake. Just like with Kate. But there was nothing for us to hold on to, nothing solid.

She cried and I kissed her on the cheek then left.

I’d not been able to find a room or bedsit straight away and so I’d moved into a shabby guest house called The Old Grace Hotel. It was run by a thin guy with a hump and pickled eggs for eyes. He didn’t look well but still knew how to smile. His place was well used but clean. It was also cheap, the main thing.

I’d been living in The Old Grace about a week when I bumped into Kate. She looked great. She was happy and positive and on her way to meet a friend for lunch in a new wine bar and bistro.

“What you up to?” she asked.

“The same really,” I said.

“You don’t look so good.”

“You look great.”

“Thanks.”

Right then I wanted Kate, wanted to be back with her in our place just like old times. Maybe I made a mistake leaving her, maybe she was the one.

“You should take care, do something that gives you something in return,” she said forcing a limp smile onto her face. She did look great.

“Yeah I’ll give it some thought. You want to go out for a drink sometime?”

The sun was on one side of her face now, I could see her giving it some thought. She dropped the smile and looked at her watch. “Take care Frank I’ll see you around.”

She left quickly and I was stood there in the street, which had all of a sudden become really busy with people rushing back and forth and delivery trucks. I stood for a minute or so not really knowing what to do next. Kate had taken me by surprise. I reached for a cigarette but found the packet empty, I decided to go buy some.


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