a bar scene
This piece is a contribution to the STSC Symposium, a monthly set-theme collaboration between STSC writers. The topic for this upcoming issue is Procrastination.
In dim darkness, romantic yet restless, they sat together across the corner of the little rectangular glass table. Felix was alternating between the nervousness of his thumb wiping condensed water off an ice-cold tumbler and the jitteriness of his pinkie fumbling for any semblance of rhythm in an obscure fusion beat lurking around in the bar. Felicia sat across, avoiding his eyes, at moments glancing at her glass or his turbulent pinkie.
'Why can't we just talk?' he asked with trepidation.
'Random stuff: politics, weather, sports, movies. About nothing.'
'I don't want it, Felix.'
'Why not? You always liked talking about nothing.'
'Are we always going to talk about nothing?'
He noticed her right eye twitched when she looked at his pinkie once again and he suppressed the tapping movement.
'Then let's talk about... things we both like?'
'What are those things? You hate hockey, I don't like elephants, you don't like my music and my ears cannot bear your Gizzard Wizzards or whatever you call them, plus, I don't get your endless myth, book or film references.'
'We could just sit, look at each other and share silence. Like Vince and Mia, you know?'
'From Pulp Fiction.'
'See, you're doing it again.'
'But you liked all that. What happened? Didn't we always have a great time at uni? Didn't we enjoy hanging out together, talking, all that? '
'Can you remember what was it always about? Mostly study subjects, projects, homework, grades, gossip about our classmates and teachers.'
'Well, Master's is just in two weeks, we can talk about all those things again.'
Felicia sighed, shaking her head slightly. 'That’s not my point, Felix. Apparently, beyond uni, we have nothing to talk about. We have nothing in common.'
Silence disrupted the dialogue. For a few seconds, lost, Felix stared through the table top's translucence at their shoes. He turned his eyes towards Felicia and, a bit buoyant, asked, 'What about our names?'
'Names mean nothing,' replied she and shook her head, 'they are made up for distinction, someone was just having a little bit of fun.'
'I remember you said they were a perfect match, that we're linked.'
'That doesn't change the fact we have nothing to talk about and I don't want us to sit and stare at each other. It's awkward,' said Felicia and averted her gaze again.
'I'm really confused,’ said Felix and furrowed his sad face. ‘Why are you sabotaging it?'
'Our... (Felix swallowed) relationship.'
'Has it ever been something else than being classmates?' said she, and finished her glass.
Jaw-down, Felix stopped playing with the tumbler. Cold shivers rippled down from his neck to his back, he felt like his teeth were annoyingly covered in lime, and sipped from the glass.
'I don't understand what's going on, Felicia. Why have you invited me here if you don't like us being together anymore?'
She looked at him and uttered, softly, sadly, 'It was meant to be a farewell.'
'Yes, we won't be seeing each other because... I'm moving to Europe.'
'But… why didn't you tell me before? I could… We could…'
'I couldn't, alright?’ said she in a louder, irritated, teary voice that Felix rarely heard from her. ‘I couldn’t. I postponed it, delayed it, you name it.'
The fusion beat kept shaping itself, propagating uneven shamanistic trance through the hall. In the twilling, neon light glittered in their eyes, brighter and more sparkling than before.
'But we still can keep in touch, can't we?' Felix asked, raising too.
They didn't. Not more than a few banal exchanges of 'Hi, how is everything?', 'Fine, you?', 'Alright. How’s Europe? How’s uni?’, ‘All good’, and after that it stalled. The awkward silence crept beyond their last bar talk, into the online. The remnants of summer slowly melted into autumn’s melancholy of rustling leaves and hot chocolates. The new academic year started with new friends and new pointless talks. Felix tried to message or call Felicia but every time he sat to do that, words in his head crumbled – the simple 'Hi' wasn't enough, and he saved the call for tomorrow, timeless tomorrow. But then, when the days were short and the weather was cold, in the evening busy with books, Felix picked up his ringing phone and heard a voice, tender, sad and fragile, 'Can we just talk?'
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Thank you for making it to this point. I hope you enjoyed this little story, please share your thoughts and opinions below.
Two quick updates while you’re still here . . .
Firstly, as you might’ve noticed, we have a new title here - Nova Nevédoma. Let me explain it to you briefly (it’ll be on the about page sometime later). It consists of two half-made-up Slavic / Russian-sounding feminine adjectives, loosely translated as New Unknown / Unexplored / Unbeknownst / Unconscious, referring to land, supposedly obscure and mysterious. Can an adequate person put two adjectives in their publication title? I don’t know. What does it mean, really? Nothing and everything, but it sounds lovely, isn’t it?
Secondly, I didn’t publish much this month so I appreciate your waiting. The reason is I’m still engaged with finishing my novella and I’m planning to start publishing it in August. I hope all the time spent on it will be worth it. Well, at least, I’m already having great portions of sublime fun working on that story. E-mail me if you want to become a beta reader, there’s still time, ~ 27 000 words await you.
Anyway, have a great day,