Download PDF Here 13th Anniversary
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two December 2022.
Speed Date, flash fiction by Susan Condon.
According to my mobile, I’ve arrived!
Crushed Velvet is a hidden gem in Dublin’s city centre. I stand at an oak panelled door, set between a book shop and a vintage store selling pre-owned clothing. According to reviewers, the interior has been revamped to reflect the on-trend vibe of those lucky enough to gain entrance. I take a deep breath, run my fingers through my long hair and pull my shoulders back. It’s time for my game face.
I push through the door, give my name to the supermodel at the desk and step inside an interior of dark, warm, opulence.
The familiar chords of Wonderwall brings tears to my eyes. That used to be our song.
“What’s your poison?” a barman asks, waving a glass in the air.
Taking my Chablis, I find a seat close to the door, inhaling the eclectic mix of men and women who enter.
“Is anyone sitting here?”
I shake my head at the young woman.
“Slim pickings tonight,” she says, removing her hat. A red mane cascades down her shoulders. “Ruby,” she says, extending a manicured hand, “hopefully it’ll improve.”
The noise levels soar.
I tune back in to the chatter.
“… no more than six months, then I’m back again.”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” a voice booms, “choose a number, then follow me.” The George Clooney lookalike is the Pied Piper.
“That’s more like it,” whispers Ruby, “to your right.” She throws her head back, as if laughing at something funny I’ve said.
I turn to look, spilling my wine when I see his face.
I hear a gasp from the two designer clad ladies he’s entertaining.
Then the bell rings.
I’m unable to concentrate. The hours I spent rehearsing what to say are wasted. I never expected to see him here. Now all I can remember is the weeks and months after he abandoned me. I left social media behind so that I wouldn’t have to see photos of their wedding, their kids, their life and know that it should have been mine.
The bell rings again.
The guy sitting opposite me mutters under his breath before he moves.
Rob arrives at my table – still as handsome as ever. He’s wearing an expensive suit, his right hand in his pocket but when he moves the sleeve droops as if there is nothing there.
“Sam!” he says, his eyes lighting up as he smiles.
I find myself smiling back, but I can’t prevent my gaze returning to his arm.
“A shark attack,” he grins, lifting his shoulder.
“But you hate water,” I say. “And why are you here? Where’s Melanie?”
He pales. His voice a whisper. “She’s dead, Sam. A car crash: two years ago. My lower arm was mangled.”
All this time, I’ve been hating her – the woman who stole the man I was due to marry.
“It’s great to see you. C’mon, let’s get out here,” he says, the boyish charm that won me over all those years ago trying to shine through.
“That’s not how it works.”
“You know me, Sam,” he winks, “always been a rule-breaker.”
I remember: drinks, driving, the rows that followed …
Melanie saved my life – it should have been me in that car!
“My name is Samantha,” I say, leaving him behind.
Outside, I take a gulp of polluted Dublin air and watch the traffic. A bus drives by, Begin, emblazoned across the side.
With a confidence I’d once taken for granted, I stand straight, shoulders back and plant a smile on my face.
It’s time for my life to begin.
© Susan Condon
Susan Condon is an MA in Creative Writing student at Dublin City University. Susan’s short stories and poems have won many awards, including first prize in the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Award. Publications include My Weekly, Boyne Berries, Ireland’s Own Anthology, Flash Flood Journal, Spelk and Flash Fiction Magazine. Susan blogs at: www.susancondon.wordpress.com and Tweets @SusanCondon