While Reunion didn’t win a medal it was an honorable mention for the 2015 Channillo short story prize. It is an important story about a mother’s love, and the aftermath of gun violence, a story that everyone should read.
You can read the beginning of this story here but to find out how it all ends pick up a copy of ‘Everyone Dies: Tales from a Morbid Author’ which includes 21 pieces of short fiction in which someone either physically, emotionally, or spiritually dies including never before published pieces like ‘After The Fire’ and fan favorites like ‘The Silencer’. The collection is available on Amazon and Kindle.
I tipped the glass to the left, letting the whiskey sour meet the rim, and then tipped it to the right. Ice cubes tinkled against the glass. The ice melted, as if my gaze alone caused the physical reaction diluting my drink. I didn’t care, there would be another. Or two. Or twelve. Drunk was good, sober was bad. A clear head reminded me of all I had lost.
Which was everything.
My head fell back, allowing my brown hair cascade down my back, and allowed the whiskey a quicker trip down my throat. If there was a burn, I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel anything anymore. There wasn’t a word for what I’d become. A loss that great went beyond the English language.
I slid my glass to the bartender and nodded.
“I know it’s none of my business ma’am, but they won’t let you on the plane if you’re drunk.”
“You’re right.” I eyed the twenty-something, sinewy, dark-eyed man. “It’s none of your damn business.”
He leaned in. “I’m just trying to look out for you, ma’am.”
I chuckled because everyone tried to ‘look out’ for me now. They didn’t care about my struggles before, only the endless despair that currently cloaked me. Even if he didn’t know that I was mentioned constantly in the news, the bartender could feel the shroud of sadness around me.
“I’m old enough to be your mother, so do as I say, and get me another drink.”
He backed away and did as I instructed A fresh drink was set in front of me. The bartender refused to make eye contact, not that it mattered. In another life I would have taken him to a bathroom and showed him that women, like wine, only improved with age. But in this life I’d lost my only love, and any feelings of joy would only prove a betrayal to Tom.
I dipped my index finger into the glass and ran it along the edge, causing a high-pitched vibration. There weren’t travelers desperately running to their gates, babies crying, or an incoherent voice booming from the loudspeaker breaking through timid jazz; for me there was only the glass.
I startled and turned my head to the sound. When my large eyes focused on the man behind the gruff voice I wasn’t surprised by the skinny, tall, black clad man on my right. After all, he was the only person to ever use my nickname.
“Hey Joe.” I hoped my tone didn’t sound as hollow as I felt.
A smile that could light up a million caves filled his narrow face, blonde hair that was being overtaken by gray covered most of his forehead creating a curtain for his eyes. Those were the same. I could have picked them out of a million pictures of green irises, although wrinkles were imprinted around them.
“Of all the airport V.I.P. lounges, in all of JFK, I walk into the one with Spencer Goldman.” He shook his head, set his guitar between us, and sat down on the stool next to me. “Must be my lucky day.”
I scoffed. “You’d be the only person on Earth to believe seeing me is lucky.”
“People must recognize you all the time, Ms. Famous Author.”
My gaze retreated from his face, which was an odd mix of familiar and stranger, back to my drink. “Not exactly what I wanted to be known for.”
Joe sighed. “I know. I read it. I’m sorry for…”
The bartender interrupted to take Joe’s order, which was a saving grace since I didn’t need someone else to reference my loss considering they’d never understand what it was to literally lose a piece of yourself.
I took a sip of my whiskey sour. “You’re more famous than me, anyway. If MTV still played videos, you’d be their number one star.”
“That’s kind of you, but no one used my name as a talking point in the last Presidential debate.”
“That’s just because they want votes.” My mouth turned up in half a smile despite myself. “Obviously they don’t listen to good music. No one’s ever called me this generation’s Kurt Cobain.”
Joe chuckled, and I saw a dozen glistening white teeth. “Most of the kids that listen to my stuff didn’t really know about Cobain until after that article came out. Guess I made it better than him considering I’m way past twenty-seven and have no plans of putting a gun…”
His whole body froze. I finished my drink and held up the glass to alert the bartender I needed another.
Joe shook his head and murmured. “Spence, I’m so sorry, I didn’t even think…”
“Don’t worry about it. I can’t spend my whole life avoiding jokes about guns. After I wrote the book about Tom, I knew they would come in droves.”
“Still.” Joe’s eyes dimmed.
Maybe Joe did understand, a loss like mine. I could tell he was hurting, his face said it all. It was the kind of knowledge only someone who’d been the first to fall head over heels in love with Joe would know. We shared an intangible connection that we shared, much like any pair of lovers. I strongly believed that ours was the greatest love, the only love that would ever be. The kind that would last centuries, like Lancelot and Guinevere. At least when I was seventeen I did.
He expelled his pain when he continued. “There was a car accident. Killed two of my best friends. I wrote a whole album about it, and that’s what made the top of the charts for months.” His eyes held me, their grip as tight as when we’d lost our virginity to each other. “So I know what it’s like, to be famous for something you wish never happened.”
Spencer’s story isn’t over yet-to read the rest of her wild night download ‘Everyone Dies: Tales from a Morbid Author’ on Amazon here