I went to a pub where the barmaids did not talk to one another. I don’t think there was hate between them, but there was a bowl of onion rings, which they nibbled at tentatively taking it in turns. The elder of the two tried to think of something to say. She felt it was up to her to do so. Sometimes I saw tiny detonations of conversation behind her eyes - but always, too soon, she was consumed by doubt and no words ever came.
The younger of the two tried to think of something to say. She was new and felt that it was up to her to do so. The thing is she was too afraid to find a mutual interest, for fear this would mean they were the same and she did not want to be the same as the older barmaid. Too scared to share such a wicked glimpse into her future, the young barmaid turned away and broke an onion ring against her teeth. In the silence it cracked like the spine of a small woodland creature caught beneath a fallen tree.
The pub was like a forest of fallen conversations come to think of it. Some snapped and landed violently at the scuffed tips of pointed high heels of scuffed girlfriends, bored with their boyfriends and bored with these meals.
Some wavered in unsteady words, in the breeze of the breath of the booze that weaved and wheezed the width and the breadth of the room.
Two men beside me chopped at each other like electronic lumberjacks, armed with screens that screamed artificial light and bred even more artificial humanity: eyes flicking, fingers whipping over LCD screens, concentration racked, breaking their conversation’s back and could they even see each other over those gadgets?
The older barmaid did not wish to discuss life with someone younger; someone who might remind her of a long forgotten version of herself. Now the onion rings were nearly all gone.
I of course was the biggest killer of conversation that night. My facial expression burnt into a dark beard, tired lines scarred beneath my eyes, as if they were scratches at the bottom of an overused saucepan. My novelty hat sat like a hairy hypocrite upon my head and as I swung my legs back and forth on the bar stool, staring at the rows of clean glasses above the barmaids; I noticed people were avoiding me. Hardly anyone said anything. I almost got the impression they had all been talking before I’d arrived.
C.P.S courtesy of inside Shadows protected by copyright 2013