It’s late October. Lola is in a simple t-shirt, cut-off jeans and, flip-flops. She’s on the lookout for a cafe or bar that would welcome her. These days, it has become difficult for her to be served. “Just a beer, a glass of wine—maybe a shot of tequila? Just one. Just one,” she mumbles to herself.
Lola walks along the busy street, bumping into people who tell her to watch where she’s going.
“You watch it!” she yells after them, but they don’t turn around.
She walks on, humming a familiar song and enters a newly opened restaurant. The stares of the guest embrace her, the attention lights up her face, just like they always had. Lola greets them all, dances in the entrance to inaudible music playing somewhere in the back of her mind. She caresses her breasts, her thighs, twirls around to the sound of guitars strumming until she stumbles and falls to the ground. But once again she is caught by him. He’d never let her fall, no matter what.
“Peter. Love you, hon,” she says.
The waiter, John, who actually caught her fall, tries to steady her.
“Okay, everything’s okay. Next round is on me!” she exclaims with a grand gesture. The children stare open mouthed, a baby cries out. The parents start to complain, another waiter comes and ushers Lola away, back to the small bar area. Lola hasn’t noticed that she has wet herself. The parents who have noticed quickly pay their bills and leave. Only a couple of guests are still seated—some are watching amused, some disturbed—as Lola tries to mount a bar stool.
“One more before I go,” she says, instantly reminding her of a song that she’d been trying to remember for the longest time.
“Who sang that song? One more, one more—or so. Ah well. Who cares, right Pete? Peter? Where are you?” she asks looking around in distress.
“Fuck off man,” she yells at the waiter standing next to her. She looks around the room, but Pete has already left. “He always leaves. He always leaves too soon.”
The waiter watches her for a minute, realizing that she has no money on her and that she’s messed up the leather seat of the bar stool. He’s ready to kick her out.
“Who’s this Pete?” he asks, trying to conceal his impatience. “Would you like me to call him? Ma’am, can I call someone for you? A cab maybe?”
She looks in his direction but doesn’t speak. He looks exactly like Sam
“Sammy?” she whispers and gently touches the waiter’s cheek. The waiter gruffly brushes her hand away. She gets up.
“It’s just not like it used to be,” she says.
Lola walks to the exit but turns around one last time addressing the remaining guests. “I’m a dying breed, I’m becoming extinct!” she exclaims. The guests look away, some ashamed, some giggling. “Where have the good times gone?”
Just the day before yesterday, it seemed, she was young, with a heart wide open, gazing at life—no limits—just dancing. She had always been the center of attention. She was fun—less the funny type—more the kind you’d laugh about than with. But she’d enjoy the amused stares, the laughs, the kisses and the wild nights in strangers’ arms. She’d felt welcomed, relaxed and endlessly desired.
Yesterday she had been in her late thirties—unemployed and divorced—with a son named Sam. She’d get by with the help of those countless familiar strangers she’d befriended at the bars. Lola and Sam would move from one strangers’ couch to another, from one unfamiliar setting to the next, until one day, his father Peter took the boy to live with him. Lola’s heart was torn, but she knew somewhere inside her it was the right thing to do.
Nights on end she’d cry over his loss. It felt as if half of her heart had been taken from her. And she’d let it happen.
Lola was determined to get back on her feet; get a job, an apartment and forge a different lifestyle. But with each passing moment, which was accompanied by her guilt and longing for Sam, the draw toward the bars became stronger.
She could hear the music, the laughter, the commotion, and then one day, she gave in.
“Just a beer, a glass of wine—maybe a shot of tequila? Just one. Just one,” she’d said to herself. Soon she’d discovered, wine and liquor were able to mend her broken heart—just long enough to make it through to the next day.
“Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll get him back,” she’d said, not realizing that days had soon faded into weeks and months into years.
Today, two decades later, Lola steps onto the sidewalk. She doesn’t feel the late autumn chill surrounding her, doesn’t notice how it’s slowly invading her body.
She walks on, her lips turning blue, her hands as red as the leaves on the ground. A memory replaying of the past—Sam and Pete—and it immediately cheers her up.
“Good times, good times. Long gone, long gone” she hums, while on the lookout for another bar or restaurant that would welcome her.
But these days, it’s becoming more difficult. She starts bobbing her head to a familiar tune. “Just one beer, one last dance.”
published on https://flashfictionmagazine.com/blog/2015/09/21/good-times-gone/