Andrew McCallum Crawford
She rubs the end of the cigarette around in the ashtray. She is alone at the bar, perched on a stool. Getting drunk won’t help. It will just complicate matters further. She will make sure she leaves before the office workers come in. They think she is a prostitute. Coming here was a mistake, the biggest one she has ever made. Not just the bar, everything, what the hell was she thinking about? She’d had a job back home, a bloody good one, but she had to get away. People had let her down too many times. It is those times she is trying not to think about, but it is so difficult, you have to work at it, and the more you work at it the more you remember. She could drown everything in alcohol, again, but she is sick of it. She promised William they would still be together when she went back – eight months isn’t a long time. She wanted to let him down gently, but he will be hoping, even though her intentions were plain: I’m going to Japan. Alone. I don’t want you to come with me. I want to see the world. Someone had put the idea in her head, an old boyfriend who gave up everything and jumped on a plane. If he could do it, why couldn’t she? Her words, not his. Maybe he was the one that got away. It is too late now, though. You have to make choices. Sometimes you make the wrong ones. She is twenty four years old and she is sitting in a foreign bar, crushing the loneliness out of a cigarette, crying. All she wants is to go home. She wants to feel safe. But she wants to forget the past, to erase it, and she can’t do that if she goes back, because they are there, all of them, waiting, waiting for her to fail.
Andrew McCallum Crawford‘s short stories have been published in magazines such as Interlitq, Gutter and Northwords Now. He lives in Greece.