This is another piece I did as an assignment for Fiction Workshop. The prompt was something about someone walking into a room and making eye contact. This is the only thing that sprang to mind. (I always seem to write them in bars, don't I?)
This piece isn't really done, but it's also probably never going to be edited further if I'm being honest with myself.
He had no business being there. As he shifted nervously on the bar stool, he readily admitted that. He ran his hand through his mussed red hair again, making a mockery of the gel he had carefully combed through earlier that day. He checked his watch again, making a grunting noise when he saw that the hands hadn't moved much since the last time he had checked. She was already late. He wasn't sure why he kept looking to see how long she had kept him waiting on an uncomfortable plastic seat.
He breathed out a sigh of relief when he saw her walk through the door, her eyes scanning the dingy room. He hoped it was him she was looking for, and not some thug she had hired to beat the shit out of him for daring to ask to meet her. For all he knew, the entire bar was about to stand up and kick his ass. It wouldn't be the first time he had put himself in a potentially deadly situation just to get to see her. As long as he was in the mood for being honest with himself, he should admit that it probably wouldn't be the last, either.
Her eyes finally settled unwillingly on him. She rolled her eyes and let out a sigh, wending her way towards him through the tightly packed tables. He still looked the same. The same blue eyes and almost orange hair. The same half-hopeful grin on his face. She pretended to herself that she hadn't noticed. She sat at the barstool next to his, facing out towards the room. She didn't say a word, staring straight at the door.
"It's good to see you again." He said after a minute. She gave a noncommittal grunt. He fought the urge to rock back and forth in his seat like a kindergartener trying to hold in his need to go to the bathroom or answer a question. "You dyed your hair. It looks nice."
She fingered a lock of the aforementioned brown curls, shrugging. What did he want her to say? I mean, really? What was there left to say?
"Do you want to go somewhere else? A restaurant, maybe?" He blurted awkwardly, starting to feel the strain of her silence.
She finally turned her head, leveling a glare in his direction. "You're the one who asked for this, Wally. I'm just here as a favor." She looked back out at the bar's dark and smoky room. "Is this place not high class enough for you or something?"
"No, no, it's fine!" He blustered, trying to remain calm and focus on what she had actually said rather than the shape her lips had made while she said it. He glanced around again at the dingy, neon-lit space. "I just… want to talk to you."
"There's nothing to talk about." She snapped at him. "You're still doing your thing. And I'm still doing mine. Just because you decided to claim my decision to change my life as yours doesn't mean that I owe you a damn thing."
"I know that, J-…" He glanced around, then lowered his voice and leaned forward. "What do you call yourself in public?" He asked, cocking his head at her in a motion that reminded her of a sickeningly sweet picture of a puppy with too-big eyes.
"You don't need to call me anything." She grumbled. "All I ever asked was for you to leave me alone."
He sat there quietly for a few minutes. Maybe she was right. Maybe it was over. Maybe there was nothing left to say. He didn't believe it, but if she did, then what was the point of sticking around? She eventually turned and ordered a drink from the bartender. Without drawing attention to the action, he stood and began making his way to the door. At the door he turned for one more look and found her staring at him with no expression on her face, drink in hand. Carefully not allowing his blank face to change, he turned and left the building. In the cool night air, he was hoping it would be easier to think clearly about her, but he had a sneaking suspicion that it wasn't the heat and the smoke that made his mind turn in little circles when he thought about her.
She turned back to face the bar, frowning. She stared at the amber liquid almost sparkling in the glass, but all she could see was a memory from long ago, with his hand held out and that huge, stupid grin on his face. She had punched him in the face that time. Would she do that now? With a mumbled curse, she drained the drink in one swallow and slammed a ten down on the counter next to the tumbler empty of all but dregs and ice cubes.
As the first drop of condensation from the cold glass hit the wood of the bar, the door slammed shut behind her.