Vivid Imagery – Rachel Hungerford

The scene opens on a dimly lit bar. The sconces on the wall look like spheres of honey in the twilight. There’s a sax crooning on stage—but even those fluorescent beams are dim in this place’s atmosphere. It’s as though time has slowed in the midst of eveningfall.

There’s a girl—dark curls swept up, big pearl earrings, flashy diamond necklace—see her? No, not her, the other one. The one talking to the barkeep. Yeah, there you go. Go over there.

You stammer out a hello, and she spares you a sharp glance. “Put it on my tab,” you hear her say. She’s got a strong accent—Boston, maybe? What the heck’s she doing here, you think.

“What business?” she’s asking you. You’re still taking her in. Green eyes to match the emerald of her dress.

“Just wanted a dance,” you say, and you’re not even sure if that’s what you want.

She cocks an eyebrow, unimpressed. “Whatever,” she concedes. She takes your shoulder. You take her waist.

Her dress shimmers as you sway. The solo switches to the piano. “Who’s the band?” you ask.

Her eyes cut to the stage behind you. You’re sorry for the loss of her gaze. “Don’t know,” she grumbles. “You’re not much for conversation, are you?”

You’re a little stung. “Well, what do you want to talk about?”

She shrugs, a graceful little bounce of her shoulders. The lavender-tinted light plays with the hue of her skin. “Where’re you from?” she asks you.

“Right here,” you say.

She gives a harsh laugh. Your eyes cut to her red lips. “From the bar?”

Your hand tightens on her shoulder. “New York,” you grind out.

Her smile is knife-like. “Boston,” she replies, inclining her head in a way that’s just sarcastic enough to be self-deprecating.

So you were right in your first impression. “What are you doing here?”

The music crescendos into full big band, and she keeps her mouth shut for a while. Finally, when the song ends, she says, “I wanted a change of pace.”

“So you thought dancing and drinks would help?” you ask, quiet under the cracks of applause.

Her face contorts in disgust. It’s a little disturbing, to see something beautiful twisted. “Not much of drinks,” she murmurs, and then, stepping closer so that the toe of her shoe falls on yours, “and not much of dancing.”

She’s gone before you can reply, somehow disappeared into the haze of the bar, but it’s a beat or two before your breath comes back.

The scarlet of the EXIT sign is the only clear thing in this place, so you follow the clarity into the near-approaching night.