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Continuing with my efforts to write some more, this is my writing prompt exercise in which I took a photo I found online and tried to craft a little story around it. I find the “red dress” to be classic imagery, and the bar scene is somewhere lots of things could happen. Keep in mind that this is just for fun, and only a writing prompt. Feel free to share your own, or links to your own, in the comments below.
In case you’re wondering what music I was listening to while writing this, it was “Wasteland” by Le Matos.
You’re beautiful in your red dress, sitting in the bar under the smoky light. When I walked into the room, I could see several pairs of eyes darting your way. Men, mostly. Women too. You didn’t see me slide into a chair in the corner, you didn’t see me rest one leg over the other. You were lost in your glass of bourbon, in your thoughts, and nothing was going to pull you out of it. Definitely not some guy with tight jeans and a blazer who takes a seat next to you and fidgets, fusses with his phone, rakes you with his eyes. You don’t even notice. He gives up, eventually, moves to go chat up some college girls by the dart boards.
You chug that bourbon, already calling for another before you’re done with the one in your hand. Your fingers are tiny, thin, one step away from being skeletal – almost porcelain-looking. Your nails are red, they match your dress and lips. A dark shade. I always told you it looked amazing on you, and you’d just shake your head and roll your eyes. That was your reaction with any of my opinions, really. But now you wore it, like a flag, like a statement.
You look up from your bourbon, almost directly at me. I sit forward in my seat for just a moment and I wonder if perhaps you can finally see me. Your green eyes are glistening in the lamp light. Tears are in there somewhere, barely being held back by your lids. You chug the rest of your second drink. The third is already in front of you. This bartender knows her stuff. She seems to also know a bit about pain, what cures it, and she keeps it coming.
Me, I’d love a drink if I could have it. I know I can’t. I can almost taste the bourbon burning the back of my throat, causing me to wince in spite of the absence of liquid. I know the kind you drink is from the Scottish highlands, distilled with peat moss – and I always told you I thought it tasted like an old leather belt. Up until now, you’ve been careful with your lips. You haven’t stained the clear glasses. But you do now and the red print on the lip of the glass gives it a certain character and you look like a girl in an old movie. Someone’s about to play you a song on the piano to try and make you smile. No, not in real life. In real life, Katy Perry is singing.
I stand up, move out of the shadows. I sit on a stool opposite you and I stare directly into your face. For a long time. Your brow is furrowed, and now I notice a little streak of mascara running down your left cheek. So, you’ve felt something. Finally. Good.
You stir your drink. You stir everyone around you, just by being there. You can’t know that I’m there. That I wish I could smell your perfume. That I wish things hadn’t ended the way they had between us. I wish you hadn’t killed me.
That cold November night was a night just like tonight. We fought, and fought, and fought. So much energy. So much emotion. So much anger. When all was said and done, it was really both our faults. But you were the one who pulled the trigger. At least you looked me in the eyes when you did it. But when I slumped back against that cold, wet wall, you didn’t have that sadness about you. You were overcome with pure hatred. And I deserved the anger, at least most of it. But that look you gave me, when I pressed my hand to that burning hot hole in my chest – when I brought my fingers to my face and they were the same color as that dress, as your lips, as your nails – that was the worst thing about it. Not the pain, not knowing that I wouldn’t be alive anymore – but that look from those beautiful eyes of yours, the ones I always joked would be the end of me.
And so, as every year before since then, I sit and watch you think, watch you drink. Watch you re-live your thoughts, the murder. They never caught you. Assumed it was some mugger. When you walked away that night, you don’t know that I watched you the entire way – my vision going black, my body stumbling and soaking in puddles of blood and dirty water. You didn’t hear me try to yell that I loved you, that I was sorry.
Tonight, you finish up, leave a big tip. You stare off into the shadows. I try to brush away that tear that rolls down your cheek. I try to hold your hand. But – my hand just moves through you, over you, like more cigarette smoke. And you recoil. I can see the goose flesh on your arms. You wipe the tear, hurry with your things. You walk out of that bar and you never look back, just like that night. When you’re gone, I fade, until the next time. Eventually, you’ll be here in this bar with me again, sitting on a stool next to me, drinking your leathery drink. And when that day happens, I’m going to apologize to you, and we’re going to be free.
Graduated from Saint Joseph's College Of Maine with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts - Creative Writing as well as Stonecoast, a low-residency MFA program through University of Southern Maine. Has several screenplays, a novel, graphic novel and a memoir all in development.