Jenn Monty’s Picture Choice: One
Title: Time Loop Part 1
Elian was lost; literally as well as figuratively this time. She looked around, hoping to see something familiar. Not even Starbucks ventured into this neighborhood, apparently. There was a bar across the street, though. That would have to do. She pulled out her phone to check the time, refusing to acknowledge the lack of texts from Jonathon. Eleven am was late enough to begin creating the haze she lived in most days. She crossed the street and pushed the heavy door. A cool darkness greeted her. She lifted her sunglasses and surveyed the place. The bar itself appeared to be hand carved wood complete with ornate scroll work and a worn brass foot rail. There were several shabby tables in the middle of the room and an old pool table in one corner. Three young girls sat at a table near the back of the room and looked up when she entered. They each gave her the once over before returning to their conversation. A man stared intently into his glass at the end of the bar, either too drunk to notice her or too consumed by his own thoughts to care. Elian moved to the bar and sat down.
“What’ll it be?” The bartender didn’t even bother to walk the length of the bar.
“Blood Mary with an extra shot for good measure, thanks.”
The bartender nodded. The man at the end of the bar looked up at her, his dark brown eyes full of questions. Elian thought it was strange her order would get his attention when her entrance hadn’t. Maybe it had been the sound of her voice; the place was strangely quiet given the chattering girls a few feet away. She flashed a smile then pulled out her phone again. She still didn’t have any messages. She stared at the screen absently. What exactly had she said before storming out? Something mean, she knew that, but the specifics slipped from her memory. The vodka coursing through her veins at the time hadn’t helped either. She had walked out while it was still dark. Six hours later she was sober enough to regret the event even if she couldn’t remember the fight. Time to fix the sober bit, she thought as the bartender sat her drink down.
“Start a tab?” he asked.
“Please,” she said. She drank half the glass, enjoying the tangy burn as it went down her throat. Just thirty more minutes, she thought. Thirty more minutes until the regret was gone and the quiet phone forgotten. The man at the end of the bar watched as she devoured the rest of her drink.
“You know what, just bring me a shot glass and a bottle of vodka,” she said.
“Seems a little early for such a bad day.” The brown-eyed man said.
“Yeah? Well maybe it isn’t so early for me.”
“Ahh.” He swirled the remaining liquid in his glass. The bartender poured Elian a shot. She picked it up and turned to the man.
“Cheers.” She raised her glass then downed the drink. He raised his own glass and followed suit.
“Shot?” she asked as she poured herself another drink.
“Sure, why not,” the man replied. “My name is Noble, by the way.”
“You’re kidding, right?” The bartender sat another shot glass down.
“No. That’s really my name. So what type of day prompts shots before noon?” Noble asked as he took the glass Elian had just poured. She tipped the bottle into the second glass before answering.
“I’m lost.” Elian clinked Noble’s glass and downed her second shot.
Noble chuckled. “Lost will be the right word if you keep drinking like that.” He upended his own glass before continuing. “Are you lost literally or figuratively,” he asked.
“Both,” Elian answered as she poured another round.
“Let’s start with the literal lost, then.” Noble picked up the now full shot glass. “Where are you trying to go?” He tipped his head back, but kept his eyes on Elian.
“I’m not really trying to get anywhere specific. But I will eventually need to get back home.” Elian slammed her third shot and smacked the glass back down on the bar. There it was, the haze she wanted. She leaned back from the bar and closed her eyes. A grunt from the bartender prompted her to open her eyes a few moments later. He ripped the shot glass from her loose fingers with a glare.
“Sorry,” she gave a sheepish grin and shrugged her shoulders. She glanced over to the liquid brown eyes still watching her every move. Elian had almost forgotten she was in the middle of a conversation with this handsome stranger. Her smile stretched out and her shoulders dropped. A few more minutes and she’d be putty in anyone’s hands; hopefully, his hands. What was his name again? Oh yeah, Noble. What an incredibly funny name. She giggled.
“Feeling better?” Noble asked.
“Yes, a bit. Thanks,” Elian replied.
“So where’s home?”
“Oh, yes. That. Just south of St Edward’s Cathedral.” Elian slid her sunglasses back down as the room appeared to brighten slightly. She noticed a brief break in the chatter across the room and looked over at the table of girls. Everyone at the table stared intently in her direction. She put her hand up and rippled her fingers. A girl with pink pigtails sneered and looked back toward her friends. The chatter started up again and Elian swiveled her head back toward the bar. She leaned closer to Noble who obliged by moving closer.
“Do you think they are old enough to be in here,” she asked as she gestured toward the back table. Noble laughed and his eyes sparkled.
“They are more than old enough,” he replied.
“Ah,” Elian leaned back a bit. “I suppose I am too far removed from the party scene then,” she said. Noble laughed again.
“I would be surprised if you had ever been to one of their parties,” he said.
“Hey now. I’m not that old,” Elian retorted.
“It has nothing to do with age, trust me. You just don’t appear to run in their circles.”
Noble winked and picked up his glass absently. “So eventually you want to get back down to the south side of town.” He looked into his empty glass.
“Eventually I suppose I won’t have a choice,” she replied. She pulled out her phone to confirm no new messages.
“When that time arrives, I will call you a cab,” he said.
“I prefer to walk. If you can point me in the general direction I’ll be fine.” She said. Noble looked at her thoughtfully for a moment before nodding.
“So now that that is settled,” he paused. “How are you lost, figuratively speaking?” He finished his thought with a glance at her face.
“Oh you know,” she waved her hand. “The usual. No clue where my life is headed. No clue which direction to take. Yadda, yadda.” She glanced at her phone again. Noble looked at her phone and then back to her face.
“Anything to do with whoever is on the other side of that phone?” he asked.
“A bit, yes.” She replied.
“Would you like to talk about what he isn’t saying?” Elian raised her eyebrows enough Noble could see the gesture over the sunglasses.
“Or maybe it’s a she,” he added. Elian smiled and he released a small sigh.
“He,” Elian looked over the top of her glasses for emphasis. “Isn’t the problem. I am.”
“I’m sure that’s not entirely true,” Noble offered.
“I’m sure it is,” she replied.
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Jenn Monty, also known as Brewed Bohemian, is a lover of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror and anything with "Punk" in the name. She is an avid reader and writes flash fiction at www.BrewedBohemian.blogspot.com