30 Days if Creative Writing: Day 14

Four days late is better than not at all. As I mentioned on Friday this exercise is about music and writing. As I mentioned on Saturday, these exercises are taking longer to complete and require more work to do so. I’ve got exercise 10 finished now though.

A quick run down of the assignment: Write a story where a piece if music turns your main character into a time traveller. It should take them to a specific moment in their past and force them to reflect on their life now, and the choices they made to get there.

Al stopped outside the night club, hesitant to enter. He felt himself too old at the grand old age of twenty-eight for this sort of thing. He’d never enjoyed clubs, even at university; he felt he shouldn’t have listened to Petra and come for a night out. The place would be full of barely legal kids and the gang from work wouldn’t turn up anyway.

The door to the club, Nightlife, swung open, music from his teenage years wafting out to tempt him in. A group of women out on a hen night pushed passed Al giggly-drunk. Al smiled; he wouldn’t be the oldest person there. Or at the very least his ancient features wouldn’t stand out too much. He went inside.

The lobby was dark and the red carpet sticky. At a desk by the inside door a group of teenagers were being turned away. ‘No I.D. No entry’; the sign hung from the till. The loudest boy turned around and stormed past Al, shouting “This place is shit anyway. You only play old crap.” The gang hurried after muttering threats.

“How proud his mother must be.” Al smiled at the woman on the door.
She laughed, “Oh yeah, I’ll bet. They try getting in every week or two. You’re new here though?”
“I am. It’s been a while but I got my arm twisted. Works night out. I’m meeting people here at nine.”
“Cool, have fun.”
“Thanks.”
He paid the five pound door charge and pushed through the wooden doors.

At the bar the music was so loud he couldn’t hear himself speak and had to resort to pointing and sign language to communicate with the barman. He managed to get his glass of pear cider eventually, shouted “Ta mate” at the barman and looked around for familiar faces. There was no one he knew.

Al settled himself at a table to wait; Petra and the gang might turn up, they might not, but he could enjoy his drink while he waited. The group if hens had grown and now occupied several tables around Al. They were eyeing the dancefloor speculatively. It wasn’t busy, there were maybe twenty or thirty people dancing. Al looked away from the women, he wouldn’t want them to think he was staring, and studied the dancers.

“Hey.” A woman stood in front of Al’s table, “Want to dance?” she smiled and reached out a hand. “No, thanks, I’m waiting for some people.”
“Oh. Sorry.”
“What for?”
“I didn’t realise you weren’t here to pull. That’s why most contractors come to Nightlife on a Friday night.”
Al was flabbergasted by the bluntness of this woman. “I’m not a contractor, I’ve recently moved back here. I just don’t want to lose the table.”
“My mistake, sorry I asked.”
“It’s fine.”
“Hey, why don’t I hang my coat on the chair and we can claim the table for your friends, when they get here.”
“I don’t really like to dance.”
“Seriously? I love dancing. It’s fun, and good for you.”
“This music isn’t really my thing either.”
“It’s proper old skool stuff though. I remember dancing at school discos to these songs. It’s why people come here. Memories.”
“My memories of school aren’t fantastic. More like nightmares.”
“Yeah, kids are basterds to each other. Can I sit, these heels are killing me.”
“If you really want to.”
“I do. So, you’re from round here?”
“Yes, but I left for uni ten years ago and haven’t been back since.”
“Work?”
“Yeah. I go where the work is, right now it’s here.”
“I’m glad it’s brought you home.”
“Why?”
“Well I couldn’t very well dance with you if you were in Texas or somewhere like that could I?”
“Oh.”
She laughed.
“What?”
“You really don’t believe I want to dance with you do you?”
Al looked down into his drink and had a sip as he formulated a response. He took a bigger gulp when her hand touched his arm.
“So shy? Aww, that’s adorable. Come on, you can’t be that terrible a dancer.”
“I thought your feet were hurting?”
“They are. Give me five minutes though and I’ll be ready and raring to go.”
“You’re not going to give up are you?”
“Nope; any  handsome man who comes to Nightlife with a book in his jacket pocket has got to be worth speaking to.”
“I was reading on the bus into town.” Al blushed.
“What are you reading?”
Al reached into his inner pocket and pulled the paperback out. It was a collection of fantasy short stories.
“Oh, wow, who’s the author?”
“It’s an anthology of new writing in the fantasy and sci-fi genre. You probably won’t have heard of any of then.”
“Don’t be so certain. You don’t know anything about me; I might have read it.”
“It’s a review copy my sister got me. It’s not even been published yet.”
“Naughty of her. Who does your sister work for?”
“I’m not sure I should tell you, we don’t even know each other’s names.”
“Annie Caton. Pleased to meet you.”
“Alistair Skiddaw, likewise.”
“Very formal aren’t you? If I were to give my professional opinion I’d say you suffered from social anxiety and have developed a coping method.”
“Really, your professional opinion?”
“Mental health specialists get that expression a lot.”
“What expression?”
“The ‘I’m not mad, stop analysing me’ look. You just gave me it.”
“Sorry, didn’t mean to. I’m a petrochemical engineer. It’s true, this sort of thing makes me uncomfortable. I don’t go out often.”
“I suggest you try a talking therapy, CBT would work wonders. If you want a referral to our clinic get your doctor to make one. I know a good therapist who specialises in social phobias.”
“Thanks, I’ll think about it.”
“I hope you do; it’ll make it so much easier when you take me out on a Saturday night.”
“Take you out?”
“Well, why not? Have you got a girlfriend?”
“No, no I haven’t. It’s difficult having a relationship when you travel a lot.” And he still had a few scars from previous girlfriends.
“Must be an interesting life though. Where have you just moved from?”
“Texas.”
“Cool. How did you cope with the creationists?”
“I ignored them. I went up to Comicon last year. It was great.”
“Jealous! I wanted to go, but work got in the way. Did you see Loki?”
“Yes, and Tom Hiddleston.”
“Fanboy.”
“Fangirl.”
“Like that’s a bad thing.”
“Not at all.”
“So you want to dance yet?”

‘Tainted Love’ started playing. Al smiled and stood. The last time he’d danced to this song had been his sixth form leaving do. He’d danced with Janine Granger, the prettiest girl in their year. He’d nearly fainted when she’d walked over from the ‘trendy’ group and asked him to dance. His friends had smirked and he’d awkwardly moved around on the dance floor. She’d laughed when he asked for another dance and gone back to her friends. They had started laughing as she loudly discussed his shortcomings.

Times had changed, he wasn’t that geeky, greasy teenager anymore. Annie was a pleasant , professional woman, who clearly had good taste in literature and films. He decided; he wasn’t going to let the past or his phobias get in the way of this whatever was happening here.

“Let’s dance.”

They danced until Petra ambled up and tapped Al on the shoulder.
“Who’s this then mate. You kept news of a girlfriend quiet.”

Not my best work, but not bad for a second draft.

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