12.30.2013 Journal Prompt

Image from There's Always Tomorrow
Image from There’s Always Tomorrow

December 30, 2013: He smoked in the dark.

6 Replies to “12.30.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. He descends the stairs, leaving behind the thing he has done. He takes his time and he walks as one in a dream, one careful step after another. He leaves the lights on in all the rooms and he washes his hands at the sink in the kitchen. The water runs cool and clear, a twisted rope of glass or ice. He bends his head to taste it and the water wets his shirt.

    Then he slips on his jacket and leaves without locking the doors.

    A short sea-front walk takes him into the lit up centre of the town and the steamed up windows of a backstreet café he knows and which does not feature in any guide or appear marked on any map. He is expected. There’s a table for him there, set for two, but tonight he makes apology and says he will eat alone. He waves away the menu, which is offered only out of politeness, and he orders a half bottle of Chablis and steak and baked potatoes with steamed vegetables.

    The owner makes an appearance, checking his watch as if time is out of step somehow. He is affable and stout andclean shaved, and though they are not friends they use first names when addressing each other, and they talk briefly of books they are reading and music they have heard. Then, when his food arrives, he is left alone to eat.

    It is a Tuesday night, one in a whole calendar of Tuesday nights, and the only difference is that he eats alone this night. In the kitchen and behind closed doors there is hot whispered speculation as to the why and the what for, but no one is bold enough to ask.

    He finishes with strong coffee in a cup the handle of which he holds in the smallest pinch of finger and thumb, the coffee black as ink or oil. And a small German brandy he takes, too, served in a warmed glass, and for which there is no charge. He pays the bill without checking it and leaves an overly generous tip, and everyone smiles obsequiously and wishes him a goodnight, a good Tuesday night.

    Then he walks slowly back to his house, to the bright yellow illumination of his house, yellow like the sun had crept in there. Outside he pauses, wraps his own arms about himself, remembering how his mother had held him as a child, and his sister after his mother had gone, and though the air is chill as it lifts off the sea he feels a small warmth enclose him and he does not weep.

    He opens the back of the house, the windows and doors, and he loosens his tie and unties the laces on his shoes. He takes a half empty pack of cigarettes from his pocket, shakes one free and lights up. Then he sits in the garden and the dark and he smokes, and his hand shakes and his head feels a little cloudy and he mutters curses or prayers under his blue-smoke breath and the indifferent sea maes the sound of whispers and sighs.

    He is in no hurry to finish his cigarette and he is not sorry for what he has done, feels nothing at all except a hoolow emptiness inside.

  2. A mystery…dark and evasive. I appreciate all the description of the dinner event…leading up to that last sentence, which hit me like a blow, and yet confirmed what I suspected all along.

    (I suspect you meant ‘hollow’….)

  3. Thanks again for reading, Judith. This time I knew what the protagonist had done, right from the first sentence, but it was so terrible that I did not want to say it but merely to allow you, the reader, to imagine it.

    (And yes, I did mean ‘hollow’… there a re a few typos in this one… hastily thrown together… sorry for that.)

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