You thought the bar was a dive when you were younger, but once you were of drinking age, you found the inside was classier than the exterior. If only you’d worn a sundress or owned your style, but you showed up in jeans and a tank top and already felt out of sorts. You’re meeting some guy from a dating site, only messaged a few times before figuring you had nothing better to do tonight anyway, so why not? You could have left your phone in the other room and binge-watched a show. You could have texted a friend. You should have gone to bed early.
Everyone is coupled, so you order a drink to loosen your nerves. Then another. If he had been waiting for you, greeting you with a hug, you could have taken it slower. But the alcohol goes straight to your head with nothing in your stomach to anchor it. You should stop but the bartender brings you another without you saying a word, and that gesture touches you in a way it’s not meant, and you soften inside, and you smile and take a sip.
He rushes in twenty minutes late, ranting about a sick kid, and you think “Oh fuck, he’s older than I thought,” and “Why the hell would you leave a sick kid to meet me?” You should have smiled politely and offered to reschedule. You should have walked back to your apartment alone, but you got in his car and let him take you away from the cozy couples, the bartender with the crinkles at the corners of his eyes, the place with no dark corners. You let him take more than those lost twenty minutes and that, like the time, you’ll never get back.
Biography: Allison Renner is an editor whose fiction has appeared in The Daily Drunk, Six Sentences, Rejection Letters, Atlas and Alice, and Misery Tourism. Her chapbook Won’t Be By Your Side is out from Alien Buddha Press. She can be found online at allisonrennerwrites.com and on Twitter @AllisonRWrites.