This story is by Amanda N Dieter and was part of our 2022 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Amanda sat at the bar talking with her friends, letting her feet swing freely as she balanced on the bar stool. Sean chuckled as he remembered their conversation last night when she complained about how short she was. It was their tenth night in a row of staying up and talking until two in the morning. Yep, he was keeping count. This going to work on only 3 hours of sleep just so he could spend more time with her was going to get him fired. Yet he couldn’t stop himself. Ten nights, nine of which have happened in person where they shared conversation, laughs, and music. It felt so natural and the hours just fly by.
Sean found himself thinking of her all day. Little moments would flash through his mind at work and while driving. Moments of her smile, her voice, and even the cute way she closes her eyes when she is trying to remember something. Talking with her was so easy. When she had told him that she had a girls’ night planned and suggested maybe he bring some guy friends up to the local bar, he was happy to oblige. Another night he gets to talk to her and see her. Except here he was playing a round of darts with his friends while she laughed and giggled with her friends across the room. All he really wanted was to be anywhere with her alone.
Amanda turned slightly more towards her friend merely so she could get a better look at where the guys were playing darts. Searching through the crowd, her eyes found Sean just as he was up to take his turn to throw. He looks good in those jeans and shirt; she thought. A small sigh escaped her lips as she recalled the past couple of weeks. Sean was something different, she mused. He was so different from the majority of the men she knew. He was kind, respectful, and honest. She felt safe with him. He opened up and had shared so much with her in the last couple of days as she did with him.
The man gives up his sleep to talk to me; she thought, grinning. She in no way has had to filter or down play her thoughts; in fact, Amanda was so comfortable being herself around him that she was eager to invite him to come out tonight with his friends while she was out with hers. Now she just wanted to be sitting in his arms talking about their day. Amanda turned back towards the bar, wondering how long their game was going to take.
Sean had successfully avoided turning around and looking for Amanda for over twenty minutes. He couldn’t avoid it any longer. It was as if he was being pulled in her direction all night. “Another round?” Sean asked his friends as he started walking towards the bar. Amanda knew Sean was behind her before he ever said a word. She felt warmth on her neck and an unexplainable buzz all around her.
“May I buy you a drink?” Sean asked. I wonder if he knows how cute he looks when he smiles with that dimple, Amanda thought. “I’d love one, thanks,” she replied. Sean ordered the drinks and pulled out cash. The bar tender set the drink down in front of Sean and he slid it over towards Amanda. When she reached for the glass, their fingers touched and Amanda felt a jolt. Quickly she looked up at Sean and he seemed a little stunned. She was about to ask him if he felt that when his friend called his name from across the bar to hurry up, it was his turn. Sean looked down at Amanda regrettably. He said, “I’ll be back, hopefully sooner than later,” and went back to finish the game.
I wonder if he could be the one, Amanda thought. Amanda silently reprimanded herself, rolling her eyes at her own absurd thoughts. Amanda had learned the hard way how to spot red flags and there were none with Sean. Or so she thought as her eyes fell on a woman who had just walked in the door, noticed Sean, and made a beeline for him. Sean smiled when he saw her and met her open arms with a giant hug. Amanda’s pulse started to race, and she excused herself to the ladies’ room.
Feelings of embarrassment and hurt flooded through her. This is ridiculous. You aren’t even officially dating. STOP; she scolded herself. There is absolutely no comparing Sean to anyone in your past, especially your ex-husband, she told herself. He is a completely different guy; she reminded herself.
Taking a deep breath, Amanda forces herself to think rationally. It could be an old friend or a cousin, she thought. He would have told me if there was someone else he was talking to or interested. We had that conversation; she remembered. I will not allow my past hurts to cheat me out of a happy future, Amanda thinks to herself as she turns towards the sink to wash her hands. Or, I’m completely wrong and about to get hurt again unless I just stop it now and leave before I can get hurt, she thinks, grabbing a paper towel and heading toward the door.
Sean hugged his cousin happily when she came walking in. He hadn’t seen her since she left for college. As he pulled away from her embrace, his eyes shot up, looking for Amanda so he could introduce them, but he caught sight of her just as was walking through the door to the bathroom. Did she just slam that door he wondered? His eyebrows knitted with concern as he started racking his brain, and then it dawned on him.
Her ex-husband had cheated on her and she doesn’t know who this girl is that I just wrapped my arms around. True, we aren’t officially dating, he thought, but she is the only one I want to talk to or be around. She may need a little more reassurance, he told himself. When the door opened a few minutes later Sean was standing there with a smile on his face, “Hi Amanda, this is my cousin Charlotte, Charlotte, this is Amanda.” Relief flooded Amanda’s face as she greeted his cousin.
A little while later Amanda was in the middle of telling her drunk friend for the tenth time that yes, she loves her, but she still won’t let her drive home when the song Beautiful Mess by Diamond Rio filtered through the bar. Amanda immediately looks up, searching for Sean. She hadn’t told him, but whenever she had heard this song over the last week, she thought of him.
At the same moment, Sean was turning away from the jukebox, having selected the song that caught her attention. Their eyes locked and time stopped. Amanda’s heart started to beat wildly. Butterflies paraded in her stomach. Any doubt she had about where this relationship was going was gone. She smiled at Sean. The look in his eye draws her in, heat rushes to her cheeks, and she draws in a breath. This is what it feels like, she thought, to know with your whole heart, mind, and soul who you are meant to be with.
Sean purposely selected the song that had reminded him of Amanda all week. He turned away from the jukebox, looking for her. His eyes found her, and it was as if he had tunnel vision. They were the only two people in the bar, just like in the movies, he thought. Except this is really happening. Never had he felt such a connection with someone before. His heart raced, and he wondered if she could hear it.
A few months later Sean and Amanda were out walking when Amanda was over thinking like she normally did and just had to know if Sean had felt anything out of the ordinary the night they started officially dating. She couldn’t get that night out of her head. “Sean, do you remember that first night at the bar when we went out with our friends?” “Yes,” he replied. “Do you remember when the song Beautiful Mess came on and our eyes locked from across the bar?” she continued. “And the whole room came to a standstill, and it felt like we were the only ones there. Yes, I remember,” Sean answered, leaning down and kissing her forehead. “So you felt it too. It was like a movie magic moment, wasn’t it?” she asked, leaning into the crook of his arm. “It definitely was magic,” Sean replied, thinking about the ring he had tucked away in his is dresser drawer; and every movie magic moment ends in Happily Ever After.