I’m in a bit of a slump lately, so I’ve been trying my hand at short fiction. Every day I write a little bit about a character I’m just getting to know. Here’s a little bit from my latest attempt.
She wasn’t sure why she decided to go to into the bar that night.
She didn’t normally drink in her neighborhood at all. It was too easy for some guy to follow her home on foot; somehow she felt safer taking the train or even a cab, if she was feeling expensive. For some reason, though, she felt herself drawn to this place, despite the fact that it wasn’t even remotely her scene.
For one thing, the place was crawling with the most obvious hipsters: the kind who wore fake glasses, refused to shave on some arbitrary principle, and smoked endless weed while talking pretentiously about art, literature, and the meaning of life. If there was one thing Mackenzie couldn’t stand, it was fake people.
For another thing, the bar’s dim lighting did nothing to hide the owner’s attempt to make the place unique. Kitschy odds and ends dotted the shelves around the bar, mostly toys from her generation’s childhood, and the walls were covered in movie posters from the 80s and 90s, the kind that sold for hundreds of dollars on eBay. The bar was trying so hard to be more than just another dive bar in Bushwick; in Kenzie’s opinion, it was failing.
There was only one seat open at the bar, which she took to be another sign. It was right in the middle, in front of the beer taps, wedged between two girls who were self-consciously making eyes at the group of guys on the other side, who were joking loudly and standing around their stools rather than using them. Kenzie slid onto the barstool and her eyes searched for the bartender.
At first, Kenzie thought she looked exactly like her patrons. Her long, dark hair was piled up on her head in a messy bun (with just a few choice strands hanging down, just so). She wore skinny black jeans and a white tank top with the black straps of her bra showing through. Her arms and shoulders were covered with artsy tattoos—she even had the oversized tortoiseshell glasses perched on her nose.
“What’re you having?” The bartender’s raspy voice interrupted her thoughts.
Kenzie looked the other woman right in the eyes and wished she hadn’t. The bartender had the most intriguing bright green eyes she’d ever seen.
“A shot of Jameson,” she said quickly, “and whatever your cheapest draft is, please.”
She watched the bartender flit away to retrieve the drinks and took a deep breath. Now she knew why she’d felt so inexplicably drawn to this bar in particular, despite all the reasons against it. She had to know this woman, even though she knew it wasn’t good for her.
Two things Mackenzie knew: that this bartender, whoever she was, was dealing with something painful that threatened to tear her apart; and that no matter how much she, Kenzie, wanted to help, this woman would end up hurting her.
See, Kenzie had the worst luck when it came to people she cared about, more than anyone she’d ever met.