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Stories & Scripts

Source: Adults

Author: Darren Nicholson

Title: It was less of a smile...

It was less of a smile, more of a smirk. What I took from it was a possibility, not very promising but I wasn’t in a position to be sensitive. After a certain amount of time the fear of humiliation becomes overwhelmed by the fear of another night alone. The transition from one state to the other is very subtle; the straw doesn’t so much break your back as your sense of shame. Clichés abound. Melodrama becomes acceptable.

“It a lonely night to be a lover” said with an accompanying smile of self knowledge, faked of course.

The smirk turned to a grimace, the eyes began to wonder.

“Can I buy you another drink?” The closer you are to loosing the lower the risk. The math’s is pretty simple. Blind pot shots in a no win situation.

As I lean closer my glass hits the back of her chair and no doubt stains her coat forever.

“Sorry, sorry” I say with an unintentional hit of desperation, “I’m part retard on my father’s side”

“Listen, its late” says she to me whilst looking at the barman. “I think I’m going to turn in” the shutters are all the way down now, a flood light couldn’t get through and here I am with sputtering candle.

“Ok, well it’s been nice talking to you” I’m torn between meanings. I want to at least end this with some dignity, but at the same time I’m hoping the show of magnanimousness in defeat might melt the ice. The id has honour and the ego corrupts it.

“Yeah well maybe we’ll bump into each other again sometime” She says it on reflex.

“I hope so, but I doubt it. I’m going away soon. But if you ever find yourself in Hong Kong you should look me up.” Its odd how lies can make you pump adrenaline, some throw back to our pack animal ancestors maybe, or maybe just to a fearful childhood. The trick is to catch it early, maintain eye contact and tell yourself that the heat under your collar isn’t noticeable to anyone else.

“Really, Hong Kong?” a slight flash in her eye tells me I have hit a small seem. It could be in isolation, but definitely worth exploring, there may yet be gold in them there hills.

“Yeah I leave on Tuesday. If it works out like I hope then I won’t be back for a long while.” When you lie you need to hint at detail but not actually give any until you absolutely have to. Too much detail locks you in, too little gives you away.

“What are you going there to do?” She hasn’t sat back down yet, but there is definite lingering.

“I’m going to be running a study for the university and there’s the possibility of full funding if it goes well” The risk here is small but potentially catastrophic. If she has no knowledge of the world of which I speak then I can develop the story at my own pace, create my own little world. The only thing to keep in mind is that I have to remember everything I say so I don’t contradict myself. On the other hand if she knows anything about that which I speak then this will quickly end and the exposure will whither me like a slug in salt.

“OK, right. So what’s the study?” Damn, there’s no sign whether it’s a question coming from ignorance or total and complete knowledge of the life the universe and everything. I need to tread lightly.

“Oh it’s nothing ground breaking really, just education methods for the disenfranchised” Vague with a hint of compassion. Sometimes I surprise myself.

“Wow, so that’s your area, education” She takes her seat again.

“Not until recently no. I’ve been mostly working in pre-pubescent development until now but…”

“That sounds like the same thing to me” To me too now that I realize what I’ve said. She’s very quick to point it out. I think she smells this rat.

“I..er.. Yeah well I suppose it is” my eyes dart uncontrollably to the floor and then around the bar. It takes too long to regain composure, to get my focus back to her. The jig is up.

“Right well as I said I need to get to bed. It’s been nice talking to you” She leaves me with one last look. It could be contempt or it could be pity, either way it’s not pleasant. Not so much a smile, more of a smirk.

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