I just finished a 6-week Creative Writing course. I wanted to share my final assignment with all of you. I’m not sure what will become of this. A short story? A novel? You’ll have to wait and see. Let me know what you think. Don’t hold back.
Chris is still drunk from the night before. Not an unusual occurrence for a Saturday morning. The ceiling fan over his bed spinning even though it isn’t on. A single cobweb dizzyingly sways from one of its blades. He turns his head to the right to look at the digital clock sitting on the floor next to his mattress. His normally blue eyes, eyes that are often compared to the depth and color of the South Pacific, are blood-shot. They are met with the vulgar, flashing red digits of the clock. “Damn, I really need to reset that thing,” Chris says out loud.
The mid-morning light coming through the naked window of his 4th floor Tribeca studio is bright and harsh. The noise of the traffic just as harsh, making his head pound with each blow of a car horn. “I should move to the Suburbs,” he hears himself say, knowing full well that it won’t happen. He’s lived here since grad school, this city has become his home. The walk to his office where he is a defense attorney is convenient. Besides, he needs the city to make him feel alive.
After rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he rolls over and leans on his left elbow to reach for his cell phone, thinking how thankful he is that there isn’t a stranger, or anyone for that matter, in his bed. He realizes at the age of 30, that perhaps he’s getting too old for this. He wonders if he should settle down. Get a steady girlfriend. Maybe get married.
As his hand touches the smooth surface of his iPhone, it rings, breaking his thoughts and the buzzing sound going on between his ears. It suddenly all comes rushing back to him. A promise he made while under the trance of some cheap scotch and…her.
“Yeah, Chris here,” he answers, his voice shaky. Lacking the usually confident, somewhat cocky, intonation. He slowly lays his head back onto his pillow, his free hand running through his thick, black hair. He listens quietly for a moment to the voice on the other end. The soft, feminine voice that can still get to him, even after all these years.
It was a chance meeting. He saw her sitting all alone at a table by the window of his usual haunt. His heart skipped a beat when his eyes met hers. Jane broke his heart into a million pieces when they were seniors in college. The sight of her brought back all of the emotions that took him months to bury. Emotions that he put away like an ugly sweater at the back of a closet. Always there, but out of sight.
He wishes now that he listened with his head and not his heart last night. He wishes his legs took him back out onto the street, not to her. His buddies begging him to leave with them. They remembered all too well.
“Give me 45 minutes,” he responds before pressing the end button with his thumb. The voice within his head is unsettling, but he swings his legs over the edge of his mattress anyway, grateful for its close proximity to the floor. He pushes himself up and makes his way to the bathroom. Moving one foot in front of the other like a ninety year old man; slow and unsteady.
Twenty minutes later, he’s standing on the A train, making his way to Central Park. He’s hanging tightly onto the strap, trying to lessen his movement with each swift jolt of the subway. Although it is a beautiful spring day, the prickly feeling from his hangover combined with the still, fetid air of the train is making him sweat. The sweat collecting under his arms and between his shoulder blades, making his red t-shirt stick to him. Chris suddenly begins to question the wisdom of this trip. The unsettled feeling in his stomach is strong, but he isn’t sure if it’s the effects of the hard liquor, or his mission, that is making him queasy.
When the subway finally reaches his destination, he pushes his way through the crowd and finds the stairway that will take him above ground. He takes each step slowly, trying to put it off as long as possible. As he reaches the top step, she is there.
Pieces of their conversation from last night repeat in his head. “I’m in trouble, Chris.” She looked at him with eyes so brown they are almost black. His heart twisting with each word. Her story unfolding before him like a bad scene in a movie.