He’s looking over again. I’ve been trying to work out if it’s me he’s been looking at or one of my two friends. Maybe it’s something else on the dancefloor. It’s not massively busy, but there are enough people here for it to make sense that he’d be looking elsewhere in my immediate vicinity other than me. I’m obsessing a little here, but that’s because he’s hot. He’s not the best looking guy in the place by any means, but I’m a long way from the best looking girl so compared to me, he really is a dish.
I’m dancing to the music. I’m attempting to dance to the music anyway. My feet shuffle in awkward little steps that are hardly in time with the music. It’s probably two steps for between every three or four beats. My broad hips and huge bum sway in whatever rhythm takes their fancy. My arms jiggle weirdly; bent at the elbows. I’m really aware of my arms. I must look so stupid. I consider letting them hang loose by my side momentarily, but that’ll probably look even weirder so I decide the way they currently are is the lesser of two evils.
The hottie glances over again. I swear his eyes are making contact with me. I look at my two friends. They’re both amazingly pretty. Their hair and makeup is always done to perfection and their skinny bodies are pretty much flawless too. The only department in which I have them both beat is my big boobs, but they’re hardly enough to gloss over the fact that I’m just no oil painting. I’m only five feet and four inches. I’m a dress size…that’s none of your business! The only style my dark hair ever works in is when I scrape it all back and tie it. My skin is milky white. Whenever I’ve tried to get some colour on it, I just burn and end up looking like a lobster. I have problems with my vision so have to wear glasses that seem to magnify my eyes to twice their size. My friends always tell me I’m a gorgeous girl; that I look good when I try dresses on and so on, but I know what I am. I’m ugly and I’m fat. The evidence of that, aside from what the mirror shows when I look in it, is the fact that I haven’t had a bloke come near me in a few years.
That’s what makes this particular turn of events so interesting. If he is looking at me then it’s the first time in a long time that anybody has. I look properly over at him. I want to know now whether it’s me he keeps casting glances at or not. He looks again and his eyes definitely lock on mine. Then he smiles. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! I don’t know if to tell my friends or not. I want to, but I know they’ll start urging me to go over to him and talk. Not a chance! He’s with about three or four other guys. I’m not embarrassing myself like that.
I say nothing, but decide I’m going to get a drink from the bar. I ask the girls if they want anything, but both decline. As I walk off the dancefloor, I become quickly aware of the fact that I have a light layer of sweat on me. The problems of too much kinetic action when you’re overweight! It’s not too bad though so I quickly push it to the back of my mind as I approach the bar. I’ve intentionally gone to the one furthest from the dancefloor where it’s quieter.
The guy behind the bar pretends he’s busy for a minute which really irks me, but I’m in no rush so I don’t rise to it. Eventually, the smug looking git comes over and asks what I want and is hardly friendly about it. I give him my order in every bit as unfriendly a fashion and I can see he isn’t happy. What kind of world is this where the person behind the counter lacks manners, but expects them to be given by the one they’re serving?
As he gets on with preparing me a vodka and lemonade, I notice somebody suddenly turn up at my side. I leave it a couple of seconds before taking a quick glance. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! It’s him! He’s followed me here! I attempt to calm myself down. I can feel my pulse on the increase and worry for a second if I’m blushing.
I look again and he happens to look at the same time. He smiles. It’s such a cute smile. He has a dimple to the left of his mouth. I can’t help but break into a grin myself.
“Hi,” he simply says.
“Hi,” I respond in kind.
“You’re Jake’s sister, aren’t you?”
“Yeah,” I respond quizzically. “How do you know that?”
“The resemblance. You look just like him”.
“I don’t know if to take that as a compliment or an insult,” I joke.
“Well…” he hesitates. “You’re much prettier, obviously”.
The excitement that stirs in me is tangible. I don’t know if a guy ever flirted with me before. I’ve had boyfriends, but I don’t recall anybody ever flirting. The relationships always just…happened. Then they’d stop happening some months later; likely when they got bored of laying me. Anyway, I’m massively procrastinating here.
“I’d hope so if women are what you’re into,” I finally respond.
“Very much so”.
There’s silence again. I’m so awkward. I want to speak, but I just don’t know what to say. I’m worried that I’m being far too aloof with him at this stage. I’m anything but aloof. I’m really friendly, but I’m also nervous as hell. The smug barman comes back with my drink and plonks it on the bar before me; causing some of it to splash out.
“Three pounds,” he demands.
“Excuse me,” the hot guy asks the barman.
“I said that’s three pounds”.
“Really? How about a please or a thank you to go with it as well”.
“Do you want me to call the bouncers over?”
“I want you to speak to your customers with respect; especially those who are female”.
I really don’t know where to put my face. This is so embarrassing! Though at the same time, I can’t deny that this guy is being really sweet.
“Screw this,” the barman says. “I’m getting the bouncers. I‘m not being spoken to like this”.
“The manager here…Damien, right,” the hot guy asks.
“Uhm, yeah,” the barman responds; his eyes shifting left and right.
“Good mate of mine is Damien. I might have to go and get him and tell him about your poor customer service skills. As I’m aware, he’s not a fan of bar staff talking to punters like scum”.
“You don’t know Damien,” the barman said; calling the hot guy’s bluff.
“Oh, don’t I? You’re obviously too young to recall me working at his old bar, Freeman’s”.
The barman is clearly still sceptical, but I don’t think he’s willing to take his chances. He scowls at the hot guy and speaks to me as he does so.
“Three pounds, please!”
“I’ll get it,” the hot guy says.
“No; it’s fine,” I quickly interject.
“I insist,” he says softly; smiling at me again and placing a hand on top of mine on the bar. His blue eyes sparkle with friendliness. I might have been wrong when I said he wasn’t the best looking guy in here. Up close, he’s absolutely incredible.
“Thank you. What’s your name,” I ask.
“It’s Drew. How about you?”
“I’m Melanie. It’s nice to meet you, Drew,” I say formally. I immediately cringe inwardly.
“Likewise”. He turns to the barman again. “I’ll have a bottle of lager, please”. He turns back to me. “I haven’t seen you in here before. Your first time?”
“No; I’ve been in here once or twice before, but it isn’t my regular. To be honest, this town isn’t my regular”.
“Don’t even mention where you normally go out as I’ve a feeling I won’t like the answer,” he says jokingly with a loud, but musical laugh.
“You probably won’t if this is where you usually come. This is majorly upmarket in comparison,” I admit; alluding to my hometown.
“This is nothing compared to the City. Have you been out around there?”
“Once, quite a long while ago. I didn’t really enjoy it”.
“I get dragged there a lot. To be honest, I don’t much care for it myself”.
He’s so nice and affable. I’ve never known somebody to just come over and start talking like we’ve known each other all our lives. He’s really putting me at ease with his approach and I can feel my defensive wall falling.
“You should definitely start coming here more often. Don’t let the rude bar staff put you off,” he says aloud as the barman comes over to hand him his lager.
Drew hands him some money and he skulks off again; pretending to look busy. I look at Drew and break out into a smile yet again. I can only imagine how love-struck I appear, but I just don’t care. He has a way of making me feel at ease with my flaws. I don’t feel like he’s judging me.
“Maybe we should meet up again another time. You know…just you and I,” he says kind of nervously.
“That would be really…”
I’m cut off quite rudely as a loud and boisterous guy appears behind Drew and puts his arms around him in a macho, but homoerotic way. I immediately dislike him. He keeps cheering and saying Drew’s name. It doesn’t take much to work out that the guy is absolutely wasted. Drew looks so embarrassed and I feel sorry for him. Finally, the idiot stops what he’s doing.
“How’s it goin’, mate,” he asks Drew. He keeps sniffing up. No doubt he’s been snorting cocaine for fun in the toilets.
“I was trying to have a conversation until you came over acting like a bellend,” Drew said only half-jokingly.
The guy looks at me; making absolutely no effort to hide the disdain he evidently feels. The confidence Drew had so kindly worked to build up is evaporating at ten times the speed at which it came.
“Come on, man. Ditch this munter and come chat to these bangin’ chicks I just got speakin’ to outside. All three of ‘em; fit as a butcher’s dog!”
“Liam, what the hell, dude,” Drew says. He looks so pissed off.
“Don’t be such a dick,” Liam replies. “What are you wastin’ your night boostin’ the ego o’ this fat mess for anyway?”
Drew turns quickly and grabs Liam by his shirt collars. His face is red with anger and embarrassment. Liam just laughs. He literally doesn’t care.
“Why don’t you just piss off,” Drew says through gritted teeth. “Go and ruin somebody else’s night, you moron!”
“Ooh, alright Mr Sensitive. I’ll leave you to your fat girl,” Liam says with a callous chuckle.
Drew shoves Liam away and causes him to stumble. He takes it in his stride though and walks away; still laughing like he’s done something really clever. I feel about three inches tall right now. I want to throw up. Drew looks mortified, but I’m too consumed by my own inadequacies to care how he might be feeling right now. He lightly touches my shoulder.
“Melanie, I’m so sorry about that. He gets that way when he’s been sniffing”.
“Okay,” I say simply. “I’m going to go”.
“No; please don’t go because of him. I promise I won’t let him talk to you like that again,” Drew pleads.
“You seem like a lovely guy, Drew, but if that’s the kind of company you choose to keep then I’m thinking you’re probably just doing this to amuse your mates or something. I won’t have the piss taken out of me”.
He looks genuinely put out by what I’ve said, but I’m too eager to leave to bother letting him try and talk me around. At this point, I’d rather just get him away from me along with everybody else. I want to go home.
“I’m not taking the piss and I wasn’t doing this to amuse anybody. I’ve been looking at you all evening. Surely you noticed. I genuinely fancy you”.
“Sure you do,” I say facetiously with a humourless smile. “Great looking guys always throw themselves at me”.
I walk past him and make my way towards the exit. He lightly grabs my arm as I go by and I turn to look at him; doing all I can to mask the regret. I don’t want to leave him at all. This isn’t his fault and I certainly don’t think he’s been talking to me to amuse anybody. He’s lovely and that’s only too obvious. The problem at this juncture is that I feel too self-conscious and embarrassed to think I’ll be comfortable around him again. His pretty eyes look sad.
“Melanie; please don’t go”.
“I’m sorry, Drew. I have to”.
I turn away before he has the chance to see my tears and pull away from his gentle grip. He doesn’t stop me. I don’t turn back around, but I know he’s watching me waddle away. I’m so stupid. So damned stupid! I’m so under confident that I’m actually walking away from a really sweet and handsome guy. My heart is telling me to stop letting my sense of worthlessness ruin this for me, but every other part of me is saying this is the right move; that he’d soon realise he’s so much better than I am and ditch me anyway.
I head outside. It’s early enough that taxis are available in abundance. I climb into one and give the driver my address. I look out of the window and see Drew standing at the doorway. He’s watching me. He looks so guilty and upset and it makes me feel like such a bitch! Why should he feel guilty? I cover my face so I can cry without him seeing.
The taxi pulls away. It pulls away from an opportunity that I was too scared to take on. There’ll be other opportunities, won’t there? There’ll be other eyes on me in another time and place, won’t there? Won’t there?!