This story is by Alexis Barrie and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“I would like to dedicate this number, to the love in our lives”
In the spotlight, she looks like an angel, her dark brown hair dropping so elegantly over the straps her red dress. With a low cut back, it almost reaches the tip of her spine. Her olive skin can only be described as satin, for it reveals an innocent and playful nature as she dances. Her blue eyes captivate the essence of the sea and the pending waves against a lonely shore. She ever so delicately presses her ruby lips onto her microphone, as she whispers the lyric of her song, her black heels clicking against a marble floored stage.
My “love” was once hers. We used to wander down the staircase, her on my arm and my t-shirt slipping off her bare shoulders. But that was before that day. When the telephone rang and neither of us answered it. The day my love became her most hated possession.
Now, she lays down on the stage, her sapphire eyes protruding into the souls of those who catch them. Her hair flips as she rolls onto her stomach. Then suddenly, she is looking right at me. Her name is Miranda and she performs at this club for Naval officers and officials every Friday night.
* * *
That was how we’d met. I was a lonely body in and out of existence. I’d sleep with any girl at the end of the bar who had “take me” dripping off her lips and then leave them high and dry come morning. With no living relatives, all I had was the darkness in the back of my mind. That’s where the memories of war came in screams of agony as my tears try to drown out the noise. I’d find myself drinking away the loneliness, until the last drop of liquor slide gracelessly down my throat.
One night, Miranda saw me at the bar, drifting in and out of the dead sea. She offered me a dance. My two left feet certainly didn’t help, but eventually we started to rock and sway. We spoke of dreams and desires as the night went on and suddenly I found myself forgetting the darkness. A few weeks later, I asked her to come by my place because she “accidently forgot her sweater at the club last night and I wanted to return it”. When she stopped by, I lead her through to the living room where hundreds of rose petals were laid out on the floor in the shape of two simple words: Be mine?
Her smile parted the clouds hovering over my world and at last, I could see the light.
I was sober for the first three months that Miranda and I dated. Until one night, I met with some fellow officers at a restaurant before our last tour. Within an hour, a purple haired waitress with too much eyeshadow asked me if I wanted a drink, realizing that I was the only one without. So, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have just one. But my “one” soon became three and then six. Before I knew it, my vision was blurry and my head was spinning back into a familiar black.
I woke up the next morning tangled with a naked body, as it breathed slowly in a deep sleep. For a moment, I thought it was Miranda…but purple was not her favourite colour.
What had I done?
I tried to stand up but the pounding in my head stopped me dead in my tracks. I ended up on my knees in a pile of my own clothes, slowly maneuvering through arms and legs before stumbling out into the hall of her apartment. No one ever needed to know about this, no one.
I met with Miranda for dinner later that night. She started to tell me about her night but her voice was drowned out by my conscience banging against the rocks of my new memories. She didn’t need to know, no one did.
The past crept up on me about two weeks later though, the day before I was due to leave. Miranda played back that message from the call and her voice came over the line.
“Hey! It’s Mindy, you know, the waitress. So that one night we spent together, god I play it over and over in my mind. Can we talk? I think we have something here and I really, really don’t want to let it go. Leave me a message when you get a chance and make it hot.”
The phone striking the receiver still rings in my ears. Tears welled up in her eyes.
“Who was that?” I had asked plainly. Her hand whipping around to smack me was the only response I got. I looked back at her in shock.
“I did everything I could to help you!” she’d cried “And you…you didn’t even care.”
Nothing could have made her storm out of my life any faster. She packed her stuff as I tried to explain. How much of a fool I was. How I couldn’t live without her. She swore she would never speak to me again as the door slammed in my face. I hadn’t seen her since. Until tonight.
* * *
That was five years ago and it’s true I have no business coming back here. But after this long, I thought maybe I could take a chance. She sits up when we lock eyes. Everyone stops and stares as I walk towards the stage. My blue lipstick shimmers in the light from above the stage. My heeled boots make a similar clicking against the floor. I untie my blond hair from the bun I’d been keeping it in, letting it fall slowly over my black skin tight dress.
“It’s the captain! Judy Holt!”, whispered a fellow seal in the corner booth.
“I didn’t know the captain was here!”, whispered another from across the room.
Miranda’s legs dangle before me, her hand gripping the microphone as she tosses her hair back over one shoulder.
“What are you doing here?” she asks calmly, barely meeting my gaze.
“Please Miranda…I still care about you. I want nothing more than to prove that. Will you give me another chance?”
Her vacant expression leaves an icy feeling in my heart but finally, she faces me again.
The first round of bullets that shoots through the windows in that moment breaks the glass in a shattering display. Officers are propelled back by the force of the bullets penetrations, while others dive under the tables and chairs to avoid them. In a split second, I pull Miranda to the ground and shield her with my body. The second round leaves three officers dead in front of us and blood spewing out onto the floor. Lights were flashing from cars outside and then just as suddenly as it had started, there was silence.
“Somebody call 911!” cries a captain to the air.
“Just breathe, please, hold on…” moans a waitress to a wounded young seal.
Screaming and blank expressions fill the room as blood and tears flow like rivers. Everyone remains motionless in fear, as if the gunmen would soon return.
Miranda is curled up against my own aching body just below the level of the stage. Neither of us move for several seconds before she finally tears away.
“Judy…Oh my god. Judy!” she screams as she points at the bloody hole in my right hand. It takes her a moment to realize what I’ve done.
“You saved me” she weeps, as she presses her lips to mine.
Hers are salty but soft as a rose’s petals. Her familiar touch steadies my heart to a palpitating pulse like the waves on a shore. But it was all only for a moment before another pain washes over me. I saw the blood looking down, slowly trickling from my abdomen.
“Judy! Hold on, okay?” she pleads “I love…”
Miranda’s voice becomes as distant as the approaching sirens. I can see the pool of blood enlarging with each second. She is calling my name as my eyes begin to close. In her embrace though, the darkness doesn’t feel quite so lonely.
Claude Bornel says
“Lady In Black,” by Alexis Barrie is another must read in this contest. Wow! The story has this flow that makes impossible to stop reading. It has some moments of pure imagery along the narrative. I can give two examples:
“One night, Miranda saw me at the bar, drifting in and out of the dead sea.”
“Her smile parted the clouds hovering over my world and at last, I could see the light.”
In the end, “Lady In Black” is not only a story about redemption, but also forgiveness with one nice twist—or two, depending on how you imagine the characters—that makes you feel great for reading a good story. Thank you sharing. ❤️
Cheryl Platt says
What a couple of twists in this story. Didn’t see them coming. When the shooting started it was like being punched in the face. This is a great read.