Ballad of the Half-Masochist (30 Stories — 18)

Terry sat in the community meeting, struggling to keep up with the rapid back and forth.  Night meetings after long, full days drove him crazy. He understood the meetings were scheduled so that more residents — like him — could be involved.  He understood it, but still wanted nothing more than to be on his way home, to already be home, a glass of wine in one hand, the TV remote in the other.

This meeting was important — a debate on rezoning.  Still, he couldn’t stay focused.  He was against the rezoning plan, didn’t want to see a thousand luxury high rises invade the neighborhood as was happening all around the city, driving poor residents to … he had no idea where.  But this was a room that was fully on one side of the issue.  None of the people around him wanted the rezoning, had been railing against the plan for months.  Why hash through the whole thing again?

He got up and went to the refreshment table, hoping a quick sugar fix would get him through another half hour.  He saw Maggie leave her seat across the room and come toward him.  He squared his shoulders a little, tried not to smile.

“These meetings, right?” she said, reaching for a napkin with one hand, a half dozen oreos with the other.

“We must be real masochists to come to every one.”

“I’m only half-masochist.  I’m going to duck out in another 20 minutes, go for a drink at the Eyes. Why don’t you join me?”

“I might do that, Miss Maggie.”  He reached across her for a cookie, testing.  She didn’t pull back, but didn’t lean forward, either.

Back in his seat, he considered.  It wasn’t the first time Maggie’d asked him for a drink.  And it wouldn’t be the first time he’d accepted, each time thinking an evening of heavy glances, hair touching and a hand on his thigh might end in some way other than her abrupt goodbye and dash up her front steps.

He and Maggie had been dancing around each other since sophomore year in high school.  She’d come home on breaks from college and find him at Irish Eyes, get him to buy her drinks and flirt with him all night. He helped her find her first apartment, she helped him decorate his. They’d been meeting up from time to time, running into each at the market or the bar for over twenty years.

It wasn’t as if he’d waited for her or she for him. Both had been married — Maggie twice — but spouses hadn’t spelled the end of their flirtation.

He watched her from across the room. One more night at Irish Eyes wasn’t going to hurt, wouldn’t make him bitter. Or more bitter.  She pulled on her sweater — a new one, he thought — nodded at the committee chair, murmured something that might have been an apologetic goodbye, then stood and walked to the door.

She didn’t make eye contact, didn’t try to communicate with him in any way — wise in that room full of gossips who’d been watching the two of them for years — but he knew she was thinking he’d follow after a minute.

And maybe he would. After a minute.

__________

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4 thoughts on “Ballad of the Half-Masochist (30 Stories — 18)

    1. Thanks, Pamela! This has been an interesting writing experience for me. This is not at all the way I work stories — write them in less than an hour and throw them out into the world. It’s such a crazy way to work, but has been somewhat revelatory, It will be even more interesting to see how this exercise impacts my writing moving forward … but first I have to try to write twelve more of these before 11:59 on Sunday!

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        1. Yes, I think you’ve nailed it exactly. The time forces me to get out of my way. There’s a little room for craft, for small nudges one way or another … but not much. I can’t get lost in contemplation, just have to get through to the end. That’s especially true since I’ve been playing catch-up, trying to post two and three a day!

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