[started 1:01pm; finished

F is for Finish

The finish of the bar is worn soft by too many hands nervously rubbing, too many elbows holding arms holding smokes and tipping drinks, too many backs arched over its edge. Like Sarah’s doing now, one foot up on the edge of a bar stool, tapping the metal as she leans back and laughs. Her shirt’s missing a button — not a button that would normally matter, like the top one, which should show her boobs or the bottom one, which would make the hem hang funny. No, it’s one right in the middle, over her belly button and Kelly can’t stop looking at it. The gap there between the blue fabric, the pale skin, the curve of her inny belly button.

Sarah is flirting with a boy, a man. Twice her age. Twice both her and Kelly’s ages added together. He has long hair — it’s cute at least, not so long that it’s jagged, pulled back in a ponytail that curls at his collar. The rest of him is nothing special. Not the eyes behind thin lenses, blue but not the kind of blue that you remember, and one seems to go a little wonky to the side. Jeans and a T-shirt with some saying that Kelly’s not close enough to read. Probably something stupid, a one-liner that’s good for a single laugh or a bumper sticker, but certainly nothing so permanent as a shirt.

Kelly cocks her hip against the pool table, which is also worn smooth, its edges soft as skin. She has a stick in her hand, but she’s not playing. She’s just standing. And watching. Waiting for the time when Sarah is done teasing the old man. Which isn’t yet. Sarah’s hand brushes the man’s collar, a barely there touch but the man leans in closer, his back arching in a way that’s the exact opposite of Sarah’s.

Sarah’s mouth at his ear — Kelly can see her lips moving against his skin —  and Kelly swallows down the soft bile of jealousy. Sarah’s eyes catch Kelly’s over the man’s shoulder — now her blue eyes, drop-dead, knock you out, blue eyes, you could drown in those. By the expression on Sarah’s face, Kelly knows the man has said yes to whatever Sarah had asked.

Kelly hangs the pool stick back up, then pushes the front door open and steps into the street. Night has fallen and the lights of the bars have come on, neon and frazzling in the blackness. She loves Sarah, she does. But the truth is she wishes she’d never been born. The truth is that hunting was better by herself, when she was the bright flame to which the moths came, circled themselves and died. Now, that role is Sarah’s and she’s just the darkness that comes after. It’s her own fault — she’d been the one to turn Sarah, after she fell in love with those eyes, that smile.

In a quiet corner of the street, Kelly settles in to wait for the two of them. They’ll be along soon enough, the moth and the light. And together, they will do what they do best.


PS — Read the whole list of Quick Fiction: A to Z stories (as well as the premise) here!

PPS — Photo by this artist.