The Woman Forgotten
Hallow Bay remained the last bar in town that still allowed smoking inside. The air thick with smoke from the old chimneys that never leave. The salty dogs, they smelled of body odor soaked in whiskey and beer, except for the old bar crone, Sweetie. She smelled of cigarettes and cheap perfume from 1967.
“Hey, Millie! Another one bites the dust, aye!” Those old chimneys loved giving me a hard time. Another relationship failed. The old crone cackled at me with her shriveled, dry smoker’s throat, “Don’t mind these old dogs, Millie. Simon, put Millie’s next drink on Frankie’s tab!”
“Hey now, Sweetie!” Frankie and the other chimneys continued to laugh as Simon poured me another pint. “To Millie!” Sweetie and the others toasted me then went back to their conversations and smoking.
Wilted on my stool, I watched them for a while; envisaged their great loves and loses. They were all single, divorced and widowed. And there I sat, feeling sorry for myself because Mr. Wall Street “couldn’t marry below his means.”
The clicking of the vinyl shuffling in the jukebox sounded in my ear. The melodic lull of “Glory Box” by Portishead flooded the bar.“I’m so tired… of playing…playing with this bow and arrow…” The longing in the lyrics pulled me into a post-breakup daydream.
“Whatever. Mitch can go ahead and marry Miss Barbie Boobs and have his plastic children. See if I care.” While I attempted to convince myself that I’m not, in fact, a loser that no one wanted, I saw her. “Give me a reason to love you, give me a reason to be…”
The presence of this mysterious woman weighed heavy, yet no one else glanced her way. She floated through the thick crowd in my direction. Round hips swaying in time with the song, her dress looked like blood painted on her body. My face started on fire, and my breaths shook the foam on my heavy black porter. My body vibrated, and I struggled on my stool.
“I saw you from the other side of the bar. You look like you could use some company. I’m Lilith.” Sensitive to her presence, my body jolted at her hypnotic voice. I’ve heard that voice before.
“There’s a sadness in your eyes, Millie.” The sound of her saying my name shocked me. The old chimneys bellowed in laughter after some clever anecdote of Sweetie’s. I forgot they puffed my name with their smokestacks a few minutes before.
“You miss someone.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yeah, maybe.” I remained doubtful.
The woman brushed my ear with her lip and bit my ear lobe; hand grazed my thigh. “Mmmm, so warm.”
Breath hot on my ear, she smelled of lychee and cinnamon. “You miss yourself.”
“Cause this is the beginning of forever and ever… It’s time to move over…”
My body radiated fire; my mind, fuzzy. It never occurred to me that I could be turned on by a woman. She created a heat in me that so many men tried to extinguish. I remembered a passion I once felt several heartbreaks ago.
As the song ended, I rushed to the ladies’ room. Intoxication took over me.
Lilith stood next to the door when I stepped out of the stall and without a moment’s thought, she pushed me back in.
What happened next was like a dream. She kissed me with her tongue in my mouth, and her hands as greedy. My body heated up, and I felt frantic to extinguish the fire with this woman. She was so familiar to me.
The world spun, and I found myself alone. Hallow Bay was empty of her presence.
I got back on my stool and ordered a coffee. “You alright there, Millie?’
“A little drunk, Simon. I’ll take that coffee to go.” The bar spun my mind in circles, and I willed myself to make it to my studio apartment above the bar.
The next morning, my head pounded. Leftover coffee called me to the dresser. Stale black brew washed the taste of hangover out of my mouth. The mirror on my dresser betrayed me. Lilith peered back at me.
Rubbing my eyes, I squinted into the mirror. The echo of the mirror revealed my image. Realization washed over my body; there never was another woman. In my drunken daydream, I imagined the erotic encounter. The woman I used to be; the woman I forgot; it was all in my mind.
The thought of my actions the night before flushed my cheeks. If I had hallucinated everything, what did everyone else see?
The corner of my mouth twitched at the thought. It didn’t matter. Who I used to be never cared what anyone thought. My former lovers drained everything that I knew until I no longer recognized myself — not changed, forgotten. Forgotten of who I wanted to be. My dreams lost in a closet, dusty and deserted. A temptress showed she still is with me and she lights my fire like no man ever can.