Written with my Thursday night group with the prompts: got to pee, reserve yours now, the after life is all about softness, play the music, tall tales, first come first served, he only nodded back, sometimes start at the end of the story, dating, taste, elegant dancer, hmmm she thought
Donna sometimes liked to start at the end of the story. “Don’t worry,” she’d say, “everybody lives. Everything turns out all right.” Of course this often caused a few in the crowd to forsake her, making a beeline for the bar. But the regulars knew Donna’s most compelling tall tales started out with this reassurance, and it was always a lie.
Donna was a renowned story teller, and that’s why people came to her restaurant. The food was nothing to brag about, most of it was as bland as milk toast and twice as soggy. But the characters she described! Keen eyes, hooked noses, short clipped hair splashed with florescent green or hot pink highlights, bulging biceps! Feats of strength as good men challenged bullies to fisticuffs and good women simply outwitted them. Sure, Donna had promised no bloodshed, but wine was poisoned and cannisters of carbon monoxide were set loose, villains were pursued down twisting city streets and through dark predator-filled forests. Tears were shed, sacrifice was honored, justice was won.
Donna’s fans wanted to reserve seats for her next performance, but Donna insisted it would always be first come, first served. Some said they felt Donna was always watchful, waiting for that one man to return, the elegant dancer Donna dated back in her 20s. She had asked him to stay, but he had only nodded back, and she couldn’t trust this silence. Still she knew what he liked–a chilling narrative arc, a sudden dénouement, an ambivalent conclusion. Perhaps she was hoping–though no one dared ask her–but perhaps she hoped he’d venture into her venue once more.
After her story, they always played the music, and Donna would wander into the back. When asked, the wait staff said she’d gone to pee, but her closest friends knew she was out back in the garden seeking a softness she expected to find someday in the afterlife—the scent of fresh lilac, the taste of a peach, the silky fur of her favorite long-haired cat. “Hmmm,” she thought, settling into a rocking chair. “Hmmmm.”
Photo by Jennifer Chen on Unsplash