Forbidden Love at the Counter Bar

18 Sep

The following creative writing was based on Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

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Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, 1942. Public Domain

The September night air was chilly, but not wanting to wrinkle her new red dress, Mackenzie opted to leave her coat at home. She hadn’t wanted to go out this evening, but Spencer had insisted. Another contract had fallen through and he was looking for a distraction.

Knowing the way the evening would play out before they even left home, Mackenzie  mentally prepared herself. She would say all the right things, nod at the perfect moments and even offer an understanding hand squeeze from time to time, just as she had done the previous three times this quarter. It was always the same conversation. Repetitive. Predictable. Unstimulating.

Even the restaurant and the counter bar seats were the same. They each ordered their usual meals. After Spencer had articulated the unfairness of his situation for the third or fourth time, recognizing the conversation finally exhausted, each became lost in their own thoughts, seemingly forgetting the other’s presence. Mackenzie braced herself for another long, lonely evening, void of flirtatious banter and riveting storytelling from their early days of dating.

She didn’t notice when he walked in – staring unseeingly out the glass wall into the dimly lit street. Nor did she see him select a stool at the bar to her right. It was only when he spoke that her heart was awaken.

“Coffee. Dark please.” Three words, spoken quietly to the bartender, thundered through her ears. Without taking her gaze from the window, Mackenzie could visualize the speaker’s face. It had appeared in her dreams freaquently, always just out of reach. Her cheeks burned red, matching her dress. She shifted her gaze quickly to her plate.

Goose bumps raced up and down Mackenzie’s arms causing her to shiver – Spencer never noticed. Her heart ached. Jeremy. Out of all the restaurants in Cleveland, he was here. And so was she, with another man.

Jeremy and Mackenzie had met only a handful of times prior to tonight. While their exchanges had been short, somehow he had made a lasting impression upon her. An aura of confidence surrounded him. Sitting tall on his stool, he appeared relaxed and at ease in the nearly empty restaurant. Mackenzie longed to move to his side, wondering if he’d even noticed she was at the same counter.

Her breathing slowed, not wanting to make any sudden movements and draw attention. Mackenzie told herself she was content to fantasize from a distance, but knew that was a lie. In reality, she was terrified of Jeremy’s potential rejection. She chanced a glance in his direction – he was watching her. How long had he been staring? He surely isn’t watching me?

Her breath hitched as their eyes locked. Captivated by Jeremy, Mackenzie couldn’t pull her gaze away. He took his time studying her face, his eyes darkening upon noticing her somber expression and the way she infinitesimally leaned away from Spencer’s side, her hand a whisper away from his, not touching. Jeremy took a sip of his coffee. Fist clenched tight. What was he thinking? At last his eyes released hers and Mackenzie was filled with an emptiness like she’d never known before.

For the smallest amount of time, she had been the center of someone’s world once again. Her heart twisted and jerked, not wanting to let those warm feelings go just yet. Her mind raced for something to say to him, just to hear his voice once more. She longed to be his, and quickly wiped the tear that escaped while her emotions ran rampant.

Jeremy paid for his coffee and left without giving Mackenzie a second glance. She wished she hadn’t come out tonight.

 

 

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