Thursday, 16 April 2009

The last part of The Calm After the Storm

The Calm After the Storm. Part III (The last bit...for now)

The voice he heard was small and soft and delicate but with an obvious confidence. The voice was a female. He could not believe the cliché he felt inside himself. Trying not to believe it, he put it down to heartburn, a short and powerful burst of heartburn.
“Can I still get a coffee?” she asked.
A short space in time had occurred between him hearing her voice and turning around. It was enough time for him to have built her up to be a goddess. He stood slowly to face her. He had never seen her before.
She was not as beautiful as he had decided she would be, but he still had butterflies. If anything she was normal looking, with long dark hair, small full lips and eyes. She had eyes that did exactly what they were supposed to do in all the movies and in all the books. Her eyes are what hit his heart.
“Yes, of course,” he answered feeling a little nervous, “good timing.”
She knew what he was referring to.
“That’s why I waited outside, until it had calmed down.”
“But it’s chucking it down.” he pointed out. As if she didn’t know. Her hair was wet, her coat soaked through and he could see rain dripping from her fingertips and nose. He noticed how nice her nails were.
“What sort of coffee would you like?” He asked before she had the chance to tell him that his last comment was stupid.
“…a latte. Please.” She replied as she tilted her head and half smiled.
“I’ll bring it over to you.”

He began making the coffee not really understanding what was happening. He was a believer in love. He believed he’d been in love a thousand times, but this was strange. It was not as if he thought he was in love with this stranger, it was beyond that already. There were no words to describe what he was feeling. None.
She had decided to sit near the open fire. When he took the latte over, she was tying up her hair. She was wearing a white vest top and jeans and he noticed that with the wet and the cold she had a slight nipple erection.
“Thank you.” She said, immediately taking the coffee in two hands, “it is cold outside.”
The fact that she had started a conversation pleased him. He stopped himself from glancing at her nipples again.
“You should have come in sooner. It’s warm in here, and dry.” He knew he had said another stupid thing.
“Yeah, it is.” she said, “You like stating the obvious, hey?”
Not knowing how to respond he placed another log on the fire in hope that she would keep talking to him. She did. After a few moments, he looked up at her. She took a thoughtful sip from her coffee, looked toward him and then spoke. “Don’t you just love it when it’s like this, the weather? It reminds of me of being a kid again, all cosy and curled up in a duvet with a cup of hot chocolate.”
He knew just what she meant, but again, was not sure how to reply. A few moments passed as they both thought of a past place, and then she asked him. It threw him off guard a little. She asked him if he had a girlfriend, as blunt as that. He started to sweat a little and said no he didn’t have a girlfriend and for a while she said nothing, just stared at him, almost directly into his eyes. She was thinking. “Do you believe in soul mates?” she asked him.
Wished she would ask him question he could answer properly, he replied.
“I like to hope so. I mean…I guess I do but I don’t think most people meet theirs. They just pass each other by, sometimes not even knowing.” He immediately wondered why he spoke with such pessimism. And then she said something he would never forget. Still staring into his eyes but now resting her chin on her hand she said, “You have a white heart. I can sense it.”
He thought of the phone call, it wasn’t her voice. He had not really thought about the call since it happened. Storms kept stopping him.
“A what…?” he asked, making sure he heard right.
“A white heart. Some people, for one reason or another, have white hearts. Each white heart is paired with an identical one. That same heart is your soul mate, your true love. Together you can change things, but only if you find each other. You don’t get many chances but taking it is agreeing to a destiny. Fulfilled destiny is what makes the world go round. You’re very lucky.”
“So how would I know if I found my other white heart?” He asked, thinking he knew what she would say.
“You’d just know.”

Somebody from the kitchen called for him, breaking the conversation. He told them to hang on. They told him it was urgent. He told the girl that he would be back in a second and that he was ‘intrigued’ by the conversation. Another stupid comment, he thought. He looked at her again then, not wanting to break this moment, he hurried into the kitchen.
It was not urgent at all. The chefs just wanted to know what he wanted to eat so they could go home. He chose the chicken with lemon, rosemary and chorizo and went back out into the bar to continue the conversation about soul mates.
She was gone. Her coffee cup was half-full on the table but she was not there. It didn’t even seem as if she had been there. His colleague had not seen her come in let alone go. He looked outside to see if he could see her. Nothing. Feeling slightly deflated, he stood in the doorway, facing the outside worlds. The sky was no longer split in two. The black thunderous clouds had taken over, they had won. A rumble rolled across the sky as he considered all she said, laughing nervously at the idea it might be true. “How would I know?” he thought.
He knew.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Calm After the Strom Part II

The Calm After the Storm. Part II

The storm rushed in through the side door; clouds of people leaving the concert all carrying a strong thirst. A young couple laughed at the impatience that surrounded them. Old men loosened their ties and shouted over the bar and old women clicked their tongues against their teeth to demonstrate their disgust at not being next.
In many ways, he enjoyed this. In many ways, he had no choice. It was that or let it bother him. “Who’s next please?” he shouted. He knew that more than one person would claim the rights to being next; he knew people wouldn’t like it when he did not serve them first.
In frustration, and possibly pain, a small old man with a big grey beard punched the bar and left.
Then the phone rang.
The rumble and shouts of the crowd reminded him that the phone was quiet. He knew, combining the busy bar and broken phone, he was about to have an awkward conversation.

“Afternoon White Hart bar.” He said, putting a finger in his free ear in an attempt to make the other end seem a little louder. There was no response so he thought either he, or they, did not hear.

“White Hart, can I help you?” he repeated just in case. This question prompted a surprisingly clear and competent reply.

“…white heart?” the voice asked, “You…are…white heart…”
He had not yet noticed the hand covering the free ear had fallen by his side. Despite trying no longer to focus all of his hearing on the call, he could hear the voice as clear as ever. It was as if somebody had pushed a mute button, silencing all the customers. He was not deaf but he could hear nothing except complete still.
The voice returned, softly, before he had the chance to speak.

“Yes, that’s better,” then there was a pause, “Now I can hear it beat. Yes…yes…you are white heart…”
After a short silence the noise and roar of the crowded bar came crashing back into his senses. He was not sure how long the gap between the voice and the crowd was, but when he tried to speak, he could only hear the noise from the customers in the bar, no voice.

“Hello…? Hello…?”
The voice, once more, had become a dial tone.

From then the mayhem seemed to filter away. The rush had passed and as with all rushes after concerts, it left a large mess in its wake. Patches and puddles of alcohol covered the work units and floor, empty bottles lay scattered, there was shattered glass everywhere and the bin had fallen over.

The last couple left the bar, thanking the staff as they made their way back into the outside worlds.

He turned his back on the bar and breathed in the silence and calm. Slowly clearing the mess and filling the dishwasher with used glasses, he treasured this ‘after’ moment. This part he loved most. A small laugh of uncertainty left his body as he considered the phone call. He did not have time to think about it as the second half of the rush took off, but now it was calm and the bar was empty. He thought.


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The Calm After the Storm.

I began writing a series of short stories all based around the idea of a storm.
This is the first part (of three) of the first story.

The calm after the storm. Part I.

When afternoons were like this it would remind him of why he had not made some great push to better himself. There were aspects of the job he enjoyed, but mostly he wished he didn’t have to, bar work is just bar work. However, afternoons like this he embraced, quiet and peaceful, perfect with a book and a coffee. If only he had remembered his book. Instead, he stood in the doorway, with a coffee, facing the outside worlds.
The sky seemed split in to two.
On his right, above the trees and rolling hills, the sky left remains of morning. A pale, thin, white cloud had spread itself over too much surface area, and so left pockets of a lighter shade like patchwork. The largest was home to the beating midday sun trying to find its way through by glowing white behind the filter cloud. It was a peaceful sky. Not bright, not empty but soft and at ease.
The other sky painted a different picture. To his left, above the courtyard and car park, the clouds closed in. Thunderous and black it could quite easily have been a picture from the suspense scene of a sci-fi film; the skyline telling us that the inevitable and uncontrollable was about to happen. There were no aliens on their way but a storm seemed to be.
He considered the cosiness of bad weather. He remembered being at home as a child, in a dinning table chairs and duvet covered den, listening to the thunder and counting the distance in limbo between light and sound. Even as a child, he would acknowledge the sordid pleasure of being right at the heart of the storm. The light would strike as he waited for it, not knowing when it would jump out and scare him. Then he would count with a careful precision until the sound of thunder would tell him to stop and wait once more, embracing the excitement and fear of it rolling closer. But the safety it offered is what he loved. If it had found its way above his head then surely it will only leave in the same way, now it was here.
‘The calm before the storm’ would get his adrenalin pumping through fear and apprehension but the peace, the gratitude and the calm after is what he most loved.
He stood, staring at the two contrasting skies considering which would win, whilst absorbing the nostalgic feeling of travelling to a past place.

Then the phone rang, bringing him back and removing him from the hair on his arms, which stood on end. It was like a wake up call. “Good afternoon, the White Hart bar. How can I help you?” he answered, not for the first time.
“Hello...?” a hesitant and small voice asked.
“Hello. This is the White Hart bar. What can I do for you?”
“Is this the…White…Heart?”
Normally he hated this situation, however at this moment he did not mind the prospect of an awkward phone call.
“I hope so.” He joked.
And that was the end of the conversation. The small, unusual voice on the other end had become a larger, familiar dial tone. He held the receiver away from his ear, looked at it then placed it back where it came from. He turned to tell a colleague about the mystery hang-up caller but she spoke first, “The concert’s now ending, “ she said, “it’s gonna kick off.”
Then the call was forgotten.