Day 60 – The Drink – Olivia

Word count: 1211

The claustrophobic hustle of the pub was in stark contrast to her black halter-neck dress and sleek black courts. It was not quite an old man’s pub, but with its line of stocky men propping up the chipped oak bar and tarty wrinkle-bags meandering in between, it was not far off. If the smoking ban had not been passed there would be no oxygen left in the room. The men that drank here were hardened beer and whisky drinkers; tobacco co-habited their veins alongside their red blood cells. They were the sort of men who only occasionally used words present in the dictionary in their vocabulary; the rest was a combination of swearing and foul insults in their own respective dialects.
Olivia tried to block out the clammer and clutter of the noise behind her. Every shout out for another beer; every yell about the football match; every gasp for air and every alcohol tinged spit that was launched from their heathen mouths as they spoke in a tongue that Olivia could barely understand brought her headache closer and closer to the brink of a brain hemorrhage. She was already hunched over her own drink – vodka lemonade, with a double helping of vodka – awaiting her knight in shining armour. Meanwhile, the person she was immediately waiting for was late.
Her shoulders were tense; her insides squirmed. Neither of these were through nerves or excitement. It had barely been twenty four hours since the last – and first – disastrous date – and she was already setting herself up for another night of torture. Why? Olivia could not say no. This girl did not possess backbone and she knew it. After suffering a horrendous dinner, she found herself agreeing to a second date and when she had tried to call him up that same night to cancel she found herself agreeing to tonight: The Drink.
It was ten past eight. They were due to meet at eight. Olivia wondered at what point would be a suitable time for him to be unforgivably late. Was it now? Was it at eight thirteen? Olivia’s heart sank. It was not that he was unattractive or positively virile. It was not even that he did not seem like a genuinely nice person. James was dull. He was duller than ditchwater; he was absolutely and one hundred percent lacking in a personality. The man had no sense of grace; no sense of place; no clue on social interactions and no idea on how to start a good conversation. The man played card games – not poker or blackjack – but some mystical game involving points and illustriously idealized women wearing nothing but togas and triple nipple tassels. Olivia like the fine arts and theatre; she liked climbing mountains and reading books; she loved history and romance and fine wine and good company. She was not posh by any means, but she could not deny that she was more than a little snobbish. James, she admitted, just was not her cup of tea. Indeed, she wished him luck in wherever he did find a girl for which he was the perfect milk and two. But alas, and painfully so, she was not the girl for him.
There was only one problem with her conclusions: convincing him of them.

A hand tapped her on the back – it was more a thump than a tap, to be fair. Olivia scowled and leaned around to see what filthy beer drinker had knocked her over. Her face fell instantly but she managed to catch it and uplift it into the fakest smile she could muster.
“Hi James,” she greeted him.
“H-hi,” he smiled. He was even more nervous than the first time.
James sat down opposite Olivia and gently brushed her hand. She retracted it. He did not even wince or seem to acknowledge the sudden act of vileness.
“It’s good to see you again,” he continued, “You’re looking really nice.”
Nice? Olivia almost spat out at him. She did not care for compliments involving that word.
“Thank you,” she replied, begrudgingly.
“Sorry I was late. I didn’t have enough money for the bus, so I walked.”
Olivia tried to bite back her judgements.
“I see you’ve got a drink. Do you want another?”
Olivia eyed up her drink. It was surprisingly still quite full, but nonetheless nodded an affirmative reply. James got up and set out towards the bar. She felt a small vibration in her pocket and knew it was her mobile phone receiving a text. Whilst he was over at the bar, she whipped it out to find that it was from her flatmate, Yasmin.
How is it going with loverboy? It read.
Olivia quickly wrote a reply; awful. He’s only just turned up. Why didn’t I just not turn up?
Olivia stared around the room awkwardly whilst he ordered. She was trying to come up with a viable list of excuses that might get her out of the rest of the evening. Olivia was not the type of person to hurt someone directly – she could never admit to him what her real opinion of him was. Instead she must fabricate a story in order to save him from hurt.
James returned with drinks. Olivia dived in for her own unfinished drink and began gulping.
“Had a really bad day at work today,” he began. “Almost got fired.”
Olivia leaned forward, “Really? That’s awful. What happened?”
James sank back in his chair, “It was really, really stupid. Completely my fault, but I guess I was distracted.”
“What do you do again?”
“I work with disabled children. I take them out for the day – away from their parents, give them a break, really. But I was a right idiot today. I wasn’t paying attention – the kid I was looking after almost choked to death…”

Olivia threw back the rest of drink. She was not quite sure what had hit her most – the sudden whack of vodka to the back of her throat, or the fact that this guy had this whole other side to him.

“Was he ok, though, was he alright?”

“Yeah, yeah he was…”

James was now just staring down at his drink. It was Olivia’s turn to fish for conversation.

“Everyone makes mistakes though, right?”

James nodded.

The clanging and yelling from the bar overtook their own personal silence. Olivia did not know what to say. James looked truly disturbed by the events of the day and Olivia could not think of any thing to say to him. They both drank their drinks and both stared down at the bubbles rising from their lemonades.

“Tomorrow’s a new day… It’ll be better…” Olivia attempted to cheer James up.

But he put his half full glass down on the table and wiped his lips with his sleeve, “I’m sorry, I’m going to have to call it a night – I’m sorry…”

In one movement James had grabbed his coat and had walked out the door, leaving Olivia calling after him like a fool. As the door shut behind him a draft of cold air rushed over her and rose a tiny little piece of guilt to the surface of her skin.

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~ by S.G. Mark on December 6, 2011.

One Response to “Day 60 – The Drink – Olivia”

  1. awww

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