Mid-Week Blues-Buster music prompt:
She sat staring out the window, watching specks of color become recognizable objects. Bringing the pixilated Chicago skyline into a fluid, meandering reality. Each barreling inch of the plane’s approaching descent drew her heart into her throat.
The city of her alma mater. Her home no more. With relative calmness, she acquired a cab and her bags.
“Where to?” The lethargy evident through the thickened accent of the driver. She’d forgotten how she enjoyed the presence of people all around, contributing nothing of actual valuable content to her day. Chatter, inane interaction, she’d forgotten.
“The Drake—” She spoke as if she’d been a hundred times.
Her mind sped as the taxi crawled, and then she noticed the ‘L’ running overhead. In a second she was whisked back.
Headboard clacking, in the tiny apartment that seemed to sit astride the ‘L.’ It wasn’t the train rattling across the tracks, in the room that night, shaking the headboard. With every clink and rattle of the metal rapping against the deteriorating plastered wall, she was bound further to him. The humid summer night only added to the heat produced between lust-filled bodies in the decadent darkness.
“Ms. … The Drake.”
“Oh, thanks.” She hadn’t realized her memories would be so vivid with her return. Sights and sounds of familiarity all contributed to a past she’d never forget, never quite understand.
A long way from the days as a struggling student. Beautifully appointed room with all the indications of a successful life. Only it was all wrong. She retreated as quickly as she entered and headed down to the bar.
A bartender—the kind that took it as a profession, not a struggling college student—approached. “What’ll it be?”
“Glenfiddich, neat.” She elicited another automatic response, which struck her odd. She hated scotch. It burned and reminded her of him. It was exactly what she needed. She wanted to feel it, completely. For a moment. Perhaps, for a day. She sat and sipped and let the burn coat her throat, numbing her mind and body.
Goosed flesh also a reminder, no matter how long ago, the ache hadn’t faded. Time hadn’t healed all. It continued to suffocate. She finished off the room-temperature libation and tipped the man behind the bar. She wasn’t sure if she tipped him for the drink or the memories.
Determined, in an unknown direction, she headed out into the night. The clicking of her heels became forefront in her mind, the sound painfully familiar. Then she knew exactly where her feet were leading.
Nothing about that old rundown apartment from her past should have elicited such fond memories, yet every decrepit detail did so, deliciously. All the beauty housed within The Drake couldn’t compare to the crumbling apartment where all the promises, ultimately to become broken, were once made.
Strappy sandals typed out a staccato rhythm on the pavement as she took three quick strides for each one of his. They entered the building quickly. Hitting the second flight of stairs, he backed her into the wall of the stairwell. Hands firmly on her thighs, he lifted and urged himself forward nearer her needy body.“God, Julia, there is no one like you, the way you answer my soul. I want to wrap myself in your scent and drown.”
She remembered the day the air in the stale apartment, he’d rented for them, turned acrid. It had signaled the end. She’d fallen prey to his unrehearsed appeal, but he wasn’t wearing khakis that would become rumpled in a stolen hour. His expensive suit made him stand impossibly taller as he said goodbye.
She drew a last, languid look at the exterior of the lamp-lit building that housed the clandestine, once coveted, room. The stairwell that kept hushed secrets.
She turned and steadied her stride, heading away from the street she should’ve never retraced with her steps.
The noise of the rustling city assailed her ears, bringing her back to the present moment. Tears began to trickle a well worn path, the salt abrasive against her tender skin. She returned to The Drake and cocooned herself in its staged beauty and false warmth, without answers.
© Grace Black
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