Short Story – Gone

The woman had been standing at the bar for an hour, tapping her fingers on the counter. Gripped tightly in her other hand was the base of a half full wine glass, the same one which she had bought upon entering the bar. Every so often she would look over her shoulder towards the door, her French braided brown hair swinging with the motion. The coral lace dress she wore lapped at her shoulders and fell like a waterfall down to the small of her back.

I sat across the room, the laughter of my colleagues lost to me. The occasional nudge as the bloke next to me readjusted himself was the only indication that I had come to the bar with anyone else. She must’ve caught me staring for she shot me a short, shy smile that faltered on her lips. So I focused on my pint for the longest time, not wanting to scare her away with my gaze.

When I looked up again there was a man hissing into her ear, she faced the bar, head bowed. Her shoulders were tense and drawn up higher than they should’ve been, causing the dress to be even more sheer. Her alabaster skin slick with sweat. She was like water, free and graceful, being frozen by his presence, shrinking into something less, something…

The man must’ve caught me looking for he looked up at me smugly and made an ostentatious display, of flinging his thick arms around her and pulling her into an embrace, but she didn’t melt like ice would, she simply seemed to disappear.

I take a gulp of warm beer.

He forces her face up into a kiss, she shakes her head like she doesn’t want to, but gives in to him. He pulls her up to his height with one arm, she rests her weight against him, only the tips of her heels brushing the floor.

I stand up.

They both look towards me now, she has tears in her eyes, he is frowning and turns to face me. His shirt collar stained with mascara. He shakes his head and places an arm around her shoulders.

Before I can to them I’m being pulled sideways, away from the bar and out of the entrance.

“What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing mate?” shouts Tom, a colleague from work.

“Get off me, fucking hell man.” I shout back, shaking Tom and some others off my arms. “What do you want? He was making her cry!”

“Mate” Tom says, much softer now. “It wasn’t him making her cry.”

“But…”

“I’m sorry mate, but I’m pretty sure she was upset with you.” He pats me on the shoulder and looks at me sympathetically. I slide down the brick wall next to the entrance of the bar. “The divorce only went through last week right?”

I guess it’s true what they say after all, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

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