Prompt: Write a short story based off a news headline.
The holidays. A time filled with romance and family. A time where those who have nobody to celebrate with congregate to the nearest pub or bar. I wish I was in the former group, but here I am, at the same bar I go to every Friday night. Hopefully tonight I’ll find someone worth talking to.
Just as I take another sip of my Gin and Tonic, a man with shaggy brown hair and black-framed glasses taps me on the shoulder.
“Mind if I sit down?” he asks with a gesture to the open barstool next to me. I take him all in, from the tight light blue button-down shirt he wears to the dark wash jeans that seem glued to his form.
I guess my night isn’t turning out so bad after all.
“Sure,” I managed to say as he smiles and takes a seat.
The bartender walks over to us to take his order. He asks for a Jack and Coke, a man’s drink. I like him more already. I smile and hold out my hand when the bartender retreats to prepare his drink.
“My name’s Courtney.”
“Ben,” he replies as she gently shakes my hand. “Getting away from the crazed shoppers, too?”
I’m in the middle of a sip, so I nod my head in response.
“Yeah, I was nearly trampled by a mob walking up to the bar,” he says, trying to make conversation.
“Tell me about it. I was run off the road not three hours ago when driving past the Walmart down the street. “At least I have all my shopping done.”
“I wish I could say the same. Still have to buy something for my sister. She isn’t local, so I’m thinking I can afford to wait until after Christmas,” he says after he takes a swig of his drink.
“I’m just heading to my parents’ house tomorrow night. Not much family celebrating with us this year.” I look into my drink and swirl the ice around with the straw.
“At least you’re celebrating with people you love.” He shoots me a small smile. I look at him and can’t help but smile a little. There’s just something about him that lightens my mood.
“Are you spending your time with family?” I ask, more to figure out if he’s single, as I don’t see a ring on his finger.
“Yeah, my family is coming to my house, and I’ll bet you anything my mom is going to give me a hard time for not having a girlfriend yet.”
“A nice guy like you? I’m surprised myself nobody’s snatched you up yet.” I choke on my drink as I realize what just came out of my mouth. “I’m sorry. That was rude.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he laughs. “I’m a workaholic and can’t seem to find the time for a relationship. Or so my mom says. I just feel like I haven’t met the right person.”
“You’re a romantic, aren’t you?” I ask.
“Not very manly of me, right?” He looks up with a slight blush staining his cheeks.
“Actually, I think it’s just the opposite. Only a real man would admit to that.” I feel heat rising to my cheeks as I look into his soft green eyes.
His phone vibrates in his pocket. He pulls it out and looks at the number on the screen. He looks at me, looks back at the phone, and ignores the call.
“Don’t you need to get that?” I ask as I point to the phone resting on the bar.
“No, it’s just my sister. Probably wants to yell at me for something I haven’t even done yet.”
We share a laugh and he calls the bartender over.
“Another round for the two of us.” He glances over to me. “My treat.”
Damn. This guy is attractive, sweet, and has a job. What a way for my night to turn out. Apparently I’ve been staring. Ben waves a hand in front of my face, breaking me out of my thoughts.
“You ok?” he asks as I shake myself out of my thoughts.
“Yeah, just tired I guess. Long day.” I answer with a sigh.
He takes a big sip of his drink and glances down at his watch.
“I hate to chat and run, but I have to go pick up my parents from the airport.” He stands up from the bar, places some money on the bar, and turns to face me. “We should do this again sometime.”
“Sure.” I reply nervously.
“What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?” he asks as he grabs his phone from the bar and places it in his back pocket.
“I’m not sure if I’ll be in town.”
“Well, if you are, we should meet up here and have another drink.” He places his hand on my shoulder. I nod, unable to form words as I’m in shock that he actually asked me out. He drops his hand.
“Alright, well I hope to see you. I had a great time talking to you.” He heads out of the bar, stops at the entrance and turns around. I wave to him and he gives me a disappointed smile as he turns around and walks out.
What the hell did I just do?
* * * * *
All throughout Christmas with my family, my mind kept drifting back to the guy from the bar. I can’t believe I just let it end like that. I’m kicking myself for not giving him my number.
I need to fix this.
I decide to take a page out of the romance book and make flyers to post around town. If he’s still around, maybe he’ll see one and get in contact with me. It’s a long shot, but it’s worth a try.
Ok, well, here goes nothing.
I grab the sixty or so fliers I had printed up with my name, number, and a short message to Ben, and start taping them up in heavily populated areas. I pin one of my fliers in a Starbucks, and a woman sitting near the board asks me about the flier.
“It’s a long story, but in essence, I met a guy, got nervous, and didn’t give him my number. And I should have.”
She nods in understanding.
“You should try posting this on Twitter or Facebook. Maybe people will share it and help you find him faster,” the woman said. She gathers her belongings and stands up. She gives me a pat on the shoulder and wishes me luck as she heads out.
I hadn’t even thought of that.
After posting almost all the fliers around town I head back to my apartment and sit down at my computer to get the word out online. This whole thing took on a life of its own, and before I knew it, I had people texting me, leaving me messages wishing me luck and giving me other suggestions.
One message caught my attention, and I couldn’t believe my luck. I play the message a second time just to make sure I heard it correctly:
“Hello, Courtney. This is Ben, from the bar a few days before Christmas. My sister saw your posting and connected the dots about the girl in the bar I told her about. I’ll be at the bar tonight waiting for you. I hope to see you there.”
My heart won’t stop pounding in my chest.
I look at the clock on the wall and it’s almost eight. I grab my coat and keys and rush out the door. Walking through the brisk December air gives me time to collect myself and get ready for tonight.
I walk through the front door of the bar and look around. I don’t see him and decide to walk around. After walking around the entire bar without seeing him, I take a seat at the bar and wait for him to show up.
I didn’t have to wait too long, as after fifteen minutes or so, I had a tap on my shoulder.
“Hey there, stranger.”
I look up to see Ben smiling down at me.
“Hey,” was my awkward reply.
He takes a seat and orders a drink. He turns to me, his eyes searching mine, trying to find what to say.
“So, uh. This is more awkward than it should be,” I say with a small laugh. “I’m sorry for blowing you off the other night. I was just shocked that you asked me out.” I look down in embarrassment.
He lifts my chin up and smiles at me.
“It’s ok. I can’t believe you went through all this just to see me again.”
I drop my head into my hands.
“My parents were impressed.” I look up at him.
“I didn’t mean for this to be such a huge thing. I just didn’t know how to find you, and I didn’t want to wait for New Year’s Eve, especially since I didn’t think you’d show up after the way I acted when you asked me.”
He places a hand on my knee.
“Anyone who goes through this much trouble for me is worth it. I’m really glad you wanted to see me. I told my sister what happened, and after she saw the signs, she hit me over the head for not at least getting your number that night,” he said with a smirk.
“I think we deserve a proper date. How would you like to go to dinner with me tomorrow night?” he asks with a hopeful look.
I can’t help but blush as butterflies flutter around in my stomach.
“That sounds wonderful.”