Reluctant, at first; they had to get away.

An empty bar, an empty street with empty windows, in empty night, away from empty people.

The barman spoke volumes as he quietly took their orders and let their eyes meet his; something they’d grown unaccustomed to.

An old man pulled up a stool at the bar and sat for some time, lost in thought and memories, circling the rim of his whisky glass.  He, like them, had lost the home he’d once known, so was in no rush; unlike the others, who’d care-freely chorused into the night.  At the last click of irregular shoe heels the bar was gifted with silence.

The turn of a bottle top and the trickle of liquor brought them back to the present, bringing brief refreshment and clarity as it cascaded over the rocks.

They’d had to get away, and it was at this bar where they found time to talk through their story, their side; the side that was unheard of.  The side that didn’t interest the gossips and their high-horsed judgmentalism.

Raising their heads, they caught sight of themselves in the mirror opposite. Where had they gone? Their reflection once sparkled with hope and exuberance in the very same glass. Where had they gone?

They’d got lost in the smoke.

They talked, they regretted, they talked, then found relief when the old man reminded them of his presence with the setting of his glass on the counter, and the tip of his his hat as he left:

‘Don’t let yourselves be judged by those who judge’.

The barman nodded then turned to polish the steam from the mirror.



Janette Ostle
Aug 17 2020

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Love this piece. The feeling of loss and despair and regret. Made me go cold.

Craig Worcester
Apr 3 2021

I read this more than twice, each time finding new meaning.

Rod Webb
Sep 22 2020

Intriguing. I really want to know what they did. . .

Dean Ostle
Aug 17 2020