June 16, 2015

Things can always get worse.

This is what she told herself as she slowly opened the car door and stepped onto the wet pavement, trying to balance on wobbly feet. Damn, those heels hurt.

She leaned against the car door, standing on one foot and circling first one ankle and then the other. It didn’t help. Her feet still screamed for relief after the long day. She’d worn them with parent-teacher conferences in mind. She’d hoped to look a little more authoritative – more put-together – as she faced a steady stream of parents, each convinced that their child was a genius who could do no wrong.

The fact that little Johnnie consistently shoves all of the other kids when they get ‘in his way’ – well, that must be the other kids fault. Sigh.

And now her feet throbbed.

The parking lot looked dark and forbidding, broken glass scattered across the pavement, shimmering weakly under the dim light of a single streetlamp.

This was not her ideal hangout spot. The bar itself was dim. It looked dirty. Not the kind of place she’d ever go into, especially given the rather intimidating row of Harleys parked out front and the unfamiliar, pounding rock music blaring out from its dingy depths.

But it wasn’t as though she’d had a choice.

After several exhausting hours of parent-teacher meetings, she’d hauled her tired bones into her car… which had gone a few miles before smoke started billowing out from under the hood. She was guessing the acrid smell that filled the cabin wasn’t a good sign either.

And this place, luckily or not, was the only thing still open. She’d barely swiveled her smoking vehicle into the parking lot…. Only to discover that her cell phone, fully charged that morning, was now dead, and only really useful as a tiny doorstop.

Things can always get worse, she repeated to herself again, as she wobbled her way through the door. The sour smell of stale beer and sweat hit her in the face as she moved to the bar, resting her hands gingerly against the sticky leatherette edging. She supposed it was once burgundy. Now it was so cracked and discolored it was hard to tell.

She fought the urge to take her hands off of it and tried to remember if she had hand sanitizer in her purse. Carefully, she clambered onto a barstool and looked around for the bartender.

She supposed she should be grateful it wasn’t a busy night. The place was half empty, with a few guys hanging around the booths in the back, and another handful playing pool. The bartender, young-looking and not nearly as intimidating as half of his patrons, stood polishing glasses at the other end of the bar. Not that the polishing would do them much good, necessarily. But it was something to do.

Focusing her gaze on the worn, scratched counter, she gathered her courage to speak.

“I’m sorry… Can I…?”

The first two words had barely left her mouth as she looked up to find a bottle barreling down the counter at her. Automatically, she reached out and stopped it with the flat of her palm. The glass was cool against her hand.

She looked up at the bartender, now ambling towards her. There was no other way to put it. Some guys just amble.

“What’s this?” she asked, feeling a little stupid for having asked it.

“It’s a beer,” he said, with a calm grin. “You’ve never had a beer before?”

“I know it’s a beer,” she said, meeting his calm, blue-eyed gaze. “But …. Why?”

“Because you look like someone who needs a drink.”

Writing Prompt: 250-300 words * A Teacher * a run-down bar at the edge of town

Writing Prompt Courtesy of: http://panthermoon.com/generators/generator5.php

Image Courtesy of: http://www.morguefile.com/


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