WOE: Pick a Number

My husband chose my numbers.  It was difficult explaining why and then how.  We got there eventually.  2,4,6, 8.  Yeah, original.  So in that order, an actress, in a restaurant, at midnight, facing a family emergency.  Then he got inspired and starting coming up with the bare bones of a plot.

NYC, heart of the city, it’s pouring down with rain – absolutely chucking it but no thunder or lightening just a rainstorm, she (the actress, who’s just made it, first big part on some low scale TV series) has been stood up by her date, it’s late – one of those late night places that you find in the big cities and then she gets a text.  He abandoned me there, his overworked imagination needing to go to bed.

Other than the fact that he deals in clichés, I have to admit that he has a braver imagination than I do.  I spin what is safe and close to home.  This prompt was always going to take me out of my comfort zone so hey, I’m going to roll with his idea.  (One moment, I’m still having a few extra details being thrown at me.  Apparently she’s wearing a ‘little black number’ (my sarcastic reply was ‘why would any woman want to wear a digit’ didn’t go down well) and looks like Catherine Zeta Jones.

So, in a partnership, I bring you:


The rain slashed against the plate-glass windows, fierce and relentless, pooling on the hard, dark roads, splashing up as the occasional taxi drove past, bearing late night revellers home in a sodden blur of yellow.  She swirled the remains of her wine, staring deeply but unseeing into the ruby liquid and knocked it back before placing it firmly down on the bar.  The barman, hearing the glass go down, looked over at her, his eyes had been following her long luscious curls and amber eyes for all the time that she had been here and she knew it.

The junior was placing chairs on the tables, sweeping the floors.  He looked over at the mysterious, sultry woman who had been in the corner of the bar most of the evening.  He was not worthy to lock eyes with hers; he kept his head down but dreamt of making it big.

She had made it big.  She tossed her curls back, her mood reflected in the maelström outside.  What better way was there to celebrate than a date with the most attractive lead actor in the most successful musical on Broadway?  It was all coming together; she had nailed the part, signed the contract and was on her way.  Small town girl made good.  That was the story anyway.

But he never showed.  She had waited until long after the lights had gone dark in the theatres and the clock hands ushered in another day.  She was bitter but not surprised.  A faint superstition held her back from outright confidence this evening.

Her tiny clutch gently vibrated and she whipped out her phone.  He had better have a good excuse.  She looked down at the screen, staring at the words, bolts out of the blue.  Maybe there was a good reason to be superstitious, troubles always came in threes and here was number two.  Maybe it wasn’t meant to be her lucky day after all.  But tonight of all nights?  It wasn’t fair.

She reread the message, wondering why she had still kept the same number when all she had wanted to do was run, to be something bigger and better than all that she had grown up with.  However, there were some things that you couldn’t hide from, this summons from the hospital was one of them.  Her past clawed her back.  She knew where she was heading next, although she had no idea of the consequences.

She popped the phone away and slipped down from the high stool, leaving a rolled note for payment.  Her heels marked a staccato beat across the wooden floor.  The noise made both men look up but she was gone, slipped into the night and its storm.

For a moment, the barman partly wondered if she had been there at all, a shadowy presence in the most shadowy corner of the bar.  Then he sighted her glass and knew she had been real, no figment of the imagination or sprite could knock back red wine like that.  He picked the glass up, twirled it between his fingers and wondered at the black lipstick mark.


521, oh yeah!

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood


24 thoughts on “WOE: Pick a Number

Add yours

  1. Your description of the taxi’s in the rain is vivid and clear. Love it! and I love the disconnect between drinking wine and slamming the glass on the bar. This girl is different and black lipstick?? Hmmmm….

  2. Your description of a rainy night in the big city was lush. Loved it!

    And the wide angle shot of the empty wineglass and the barman makes me think of the end of a film noire somehow.

    Great mood in this piece overall.

  3. I thought the opening description of the rainy night was fantastic. I kind of liked the barman’s POV jumping in, though I wasn’t as crazy about “junior”‘s. I like how you worked in the family emergency. This is a big prompt for so many different variables (incidentally, I picked 2 4 6 8, too. :) )

  4. Love that you could collaborate with the spouse. The result was simply lovely. My suggestion would be to tighten the POV so it’s told by either the bartender only or the actress only. Apart from that, the imagery was vibrant and lucid. Very well played!

  5. I quite enjoyed this mysterious little tale. She strikes me as acting more confident than she might actually be feeling.

    A few small critiques: your first sentence is really long. I got a little lost by the end of it and had to reread it. Perhaps break it up into 2?

    2nd, you POV appears to be in the womans but you slip out of it few times when you mention how the men observe her.

    1. I had noticed I do sometimes use rather long sentences so I’ll keep an eye on that. I wasn’t conscious of switching POV but would you suggest that it isn’t good practice to do so then? (I’m a little confused because I had a comment on another piece suggesting the use of multiple POVs). Thank you for reading and commenting. :)

  6. Well-done! My fave line is “…bearing late night revellers home in a sodden blur of yellow.” It’s great powerful imagery to set the stage for the rest of the piece.

  7. I want to know! What’s their story? You imagine when someone FINALLY makes it (whatever their version of “it” is) they have no problems leaving their dreary past in the dust. If only it were that easy, huh?

  8. “For a moment, the barman partly wondered if she had been there at all, a shadowy presence in the most shadowy corner of the bar. ” How delightfully Philip Marlowe! I also like how you handled the rain without making it cliche. Your husband may think in cliches, but you rounded out the scene so that it was much more than that!

I'd love to know what you think, concrit is especially welcomed on fiction pieces. Thank you.

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