6.18.2013 Journal Prompt

Photo from Torinodiary.wordpress.com
Photo from Torinodiary.wordpress.com

June 18, 2013: They’d just met.

3 Replies to “6.18.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. t had been a god-awful party, just as she knew it would be. “Gala” they called it in Slovakia, and that meant putting on a shiny dress and very high heels, and lots of costume jewelry including—no kidding—a tiara and dangling earrings. Finish that sleaziness with deep red nail polish, matching lipstick and a bad hair coloring job, and you’d fit right in.

    Well sorry, she thought, I can’t do this. Instead she wore a demure and well-behaved black dress with a high neckline, black ballerina flats, and a thin gold chain around her neck: nothing ‘gala’, nothing sparkly or cheap, just good American tastefulness.

    It was no trouble to be demure, too. She never had been a drinker, so the sparkling glasses of lethal slivovitz clustered at the far end of the buffet were easy to pass by, and the appetizers of sausages, grilled bread, and dumplings with sheep cheese and bacon had no appeal. Most of all, she didn’t understand Slovak, not a word any one was saying, so she had escaped to a corner of the ballroom where there seemed to be less cigarette smoke and fewer round, flat, smiling faces. The damned translator, she noticed, was not offering to go far from the drinks table, and his absence freed her from a paralysis of questions: “Is this your first trip to Bratislava?” “What kind of car do you drive in the US?” “Have you seen our mountains?” “Do you have children?”

    She pasted what she hoped was a pleasant smile on her face and wished she smoked so she would have something to do with her hands beside clutch a glass of room-temperature mineral water. Boring. How soon will it be, she wondered, before she could abandon her role as distinguished guest at the ‘gala reception’ and catch the shuttle back to her hotel.

    His voice surprised her: she hadn’t heard him come from behind her. “Dobry den,” his hand on her arm.

    “Hello,” she answered. “Dobry den.” And then, looking up into his eyes, “And I only speak English. I’m sorry…very sorry.”

    He bent close to her ear.

    “It really doesn’t matter,” he whispered, in perfect English. “Ty si krásna.”

    Together they left the room.

  2. They’d just met. Complete strangers before this night and it was only by accident that they met at all. She’d broken the heel of one shoe and she’d hopped into the pub to phone for a cab. He was at the bar and looking into the bottom of an empty glass and thinking he should be home by now and not knowing why he had stayed beyond the first drink.

    She leaned across the bar to ask the man serving if there was a phone she could use. She caught the barman’s attention by waving the two bits of her shoe at him as if he would understand.

    ‘I could fix that for you,’ said the man at the bar looking into the empty glass.

    ‘I just need a cab,’ she said.

    ‘My dad’s a cobbler for forty years. I could fix that.’

    She handed him the shoe and the heel.

    ‘’Course it needs a bit of glue to be fixed properly, but I can fix it enough it’ll get you home. You could always drop it into my dad’s shop and tell him I sent you. He’d do it for nothing if you said that.’

    And that was how they met. She bought him another drink to say thanks for what he’d done with the shoe and the heel, and so they got to talking, and he made her laugh and he thought she was worth the effort. Her name was Helen and she kept putting one hand on his arm, just resting it lightly as though she was not certain. And she kept fiddling with the ends of her hair, playing a softened curl through her fingers again and again. He could read the signals and so he leaned into her and kissed her cheek and said maybe they should step outside for a minute.

    They’d only just met and he was kissing her under the streetlight and pressed up against the wall of Mundell’s Gift shop, and she was letting herself be kissed, without really knowing who he was except that he’d fixed the heel on her shoe.

    ‘Is he really a cobbler, your dad?’

    Truth is a strange creature. Joseph did not lie to her. His dad was Markie’s Shoes on the high street. Repairs done the same day if you ticked ‘express’ on the ticket when you handed them in. There was a painted wooden model cobbler in the window and dead flies at his feet and cobweb rags reaching from his arms. Not a word of a lie, his dad was a cobbler. But Joseph kept things back from Helen, too, and so though he did not lie, the truth is he was dishonest.

    He walked her home and one thing led to another and maybe it was the drink and the fact that it was a Friday night and the stars were out and her flat was empty because her flatmate, Lexie, had gone home for the weekend – anyway, they’d only just met but he stayed at hers for the night – he stayed at Helen’s when he had a wife to go home to and a kid who wouldn’t let them sleep and the doctors they’d seen said it would pass and it never had.

    1. Setting details really make this story…I can visualize the shoe repair shop and the dead flies and cobweb rags. Thanks for this! (Nice twist in the last line, too: I think I may have met this guy…..)

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