Short Story
Inspired By: “Lost Stars”
Artist: Adam Levine, Maroon 5

A busy bar downtown shelters a small crowd from a consistent shower outdoors. Twenty-somethings gather in a corner on the far side of the room shooting pool and laughing loudly.

A frail woman with pale skin and bright blue eyes is at a small table across from a large bald man. Her golden hair, both thin and waxy, lay shoulder length. She speaks loudly about an ungrateful daughter, hands flitting from her cheek, to the air, to her lips, then back to her cheek. When her friend laughs his entire body shakes.

A couple sits practically on top of each other at a nearby booth. They exchange mischievous glances. I recognize the look. Young love. I quickly look away.

My glass of Sprite might as well be water. Better yet I wish it were. I would bathe in it. Wash all my tears away.

Deep inhale. Deep exhale. I will not cry here. Not here.

“I don’t think you really want that drink,” says a deep southern voice to my right.

I look up to see a gray-haired man with a matching beard and mustache looking at me. He has a kind face, reminds me of Santa Claus, only smaller.

“No, it’s okay.” I manage to mutter.

“So what sorrows are you failing at drowning, little lady?” He jokes.

It hurts to smile.

A female twenty-something runs around the pool table while being chased by a young man. He catches her and pulls her to him.

My eyes move from them and into a sea of green. His eyes sparkle. The bearded man is actually waiting for my response.

So, is this what people do in bars, in real life? They talk about their ugly messes like some sort of free therapy.

“It’s nothing,” I say casually.

“Oh, come on.” He swallows a shot of something bringing the tiny glass down hard upon the bar. “Jake another!” he exclaims.

“And one more for her!” he says pointing at me. “Oh no. I’m fine,” I say.

“What are you drinking?” he orders.

“It’s a Sprite,” I respond quickly like he’s my commanding officer.

“A Sprite!” he booms. His face contorts as his eyes bulge. “Jake get her a real drink!”

“No, I don’t drink,” I say.

“Then what the hell are you doing in a bar?” He asks.

That’s a good question. I look at Jake; he’s a mountain of a man. The kind that tends bar and lifts cows for a living.

I reply slowly, “Drinking Sprite and miserably failing at drowning my sorrows, I guess.”

The bearded man smiles, then grabs a bowl of nuts, popping a handful in his mouth.

I look down at my drink, circling the rim with my fingertips, thinking of all the germs he just swallowed.

“My life is starting over without me,” tumbles out of my mouth before I have a chance to think.

He stops drinking, eyes narrowing.

I continue, “Today I ended a three-year relationship. Or it ended on me.” My voice dwindles. I swallow hard.

“Well,” he offers. “I am sorry to hear that. I truly am. Your husband?”


“Well, for what it’s worth at least you guys broke it off before getting married. I’ve been through a nasty divorce. Wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Well, maybe my worst enemy.”

He smiles.

The twenty-somethings laugh loudly in the corner. I remember that feeling, that lightness. I feel so heavy now.

“If I would have known then, what I know now. I would have done it all differently—better.” I say feigning confidence.

“What? If you’d done it differently I may not have the pleasure of your company tonight.”

“Hmm—“ I start.

He interrupts me. “Besides, love is all about chances. Right? You never know what’s gonna work or what’s gonna fail. You just do it. And when it does work, it’s worth it. Aint nothing like it. And when it doesn’t work out you learn from it and it helps you enjoy the good stuff even more.”

Who would have thought I’d be taking advice in a bar, from Santa’s twin.

“He did you a favor,” he says.

“But you don’t even know what happened,” I tell him.

“It doesn’t matter,” he shrugs. “You said your life is starting over without you, you better hurry and catch up.”

He smiles and somehow, I do too.

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