I'm a bit shy when it comes to sharing my own work, even though I write for a living. But journalism and creative writing are whole different ball games, so it takes a lot to share something like this. Seeing Red is a little short story I wrote ages ago - hope you like it!
BY SARAH HARDIE
The rain beat down on her windscreen as she turned into the car park. Sadie was late and stressed out, but she knew she had to soldier on for Rosie's sake.
A peak in the rear vision mirror showed her a pair of painfully pathetic blood-shot eyes, and she wiped the mascara smudges away in an attempt to feel normal.
Next she was bolting across the car park to the door of the hotel, praying her heels would not betray her. That would be just what she needed, something else to crumble underneath her.
She made it to the door without too much damage to her hair and makeup, and caught a glimpse of red in the window. Not bad, she thought. She had found the dress in the back of her wardrobe, unworn for years and, despite the fact she never, ever wore red, decided on a whim to give it a go. Maybe she was rebelling against herself, maybe it was him. Whatever the reason, she felt stronger. They do say red cars go faster.
Arriving in the kitchen, she apologized for her lateness and was rushed into work preparing chicken sandwiches. Rosie appeared in the doorway, a look of relief on her face. "Oh thank God you're here, chick, I thought you weren't going to come," she said, and was called away before she could notice the bloodshot eyes staring wearily at the chicken in front of her. Sadie's hands moved with a mind of their own, robots putting the sandwiches together.
She took a completed plate of sandwiches out to the table, not watching where she was going. The sandwiches went flying, as did she, as a leather jacket containing a tall, dark-haired God came seemingly out of nowhere. A hand reached down to help her up and she frantically gathered the wasted food onto the platter, not looking up.
"You okay?" said a concerned male voice, and a tear escaped as she stood up and disappeared back into the kitchen.
Standing at the bench, she took a deep breath. Pull yourself together, she told herself. She felt terrible for not acknowledging the man who had helped her to her feet and desperately wanted to escape. She could - she was only doing this as a favor to Rosie. She didn't even like catering.
With a sigh, she got back to work, yearning for the time when she could go home, curl up in bed and sleep forever.
The night passed in a blur and her eyes cleared as she gradually pushed the nagging thoughts to the back of her mind.
Finally able to take a break, she sought fresh air out the back of the hotel. She breathed in the night and leaned against the cold brick wall, letting her thoughts creep back in.
She thought maybe she was going through feelings akin to those of grief. Since that moment on the doorstep that afternoon, she felt denial seasoned with a pinch of regret.
She couldn't believe he would just walk right back into her like that after leaving it so suddenly. She understood he left to follow his dream, and how could she say no to that? A girlfriend is supposed to be supportive, but after three years together, she thought surely there had to be room for compromise. His idea of compromise was for her to go with him, but how selfish was that? Asking her to abandon her own dreams to follow his? No way, she was too stubborn for that.
So he had left. Just like that. With no goodbye.
And then he had come back a whole year later. Just appeared on her doorstep with no warning.
How could he expect her to take him back after a year of falling apart and putting her life back together without him? What right did he have?
The anger boiled through her chest and crept down her arm, curling her hand into a fist.
The door opened at the same moment her fist struck the cold wood wall and a man walked slowly over to her, lighting his cigarette.
"You okay?" He asked, sounding concerned. De ja vu.
"Here, let me see," he said and she held her hand out to him. He looked at her grazed knuckles with a slight frown and said, "You'll be alright". He seemed reluctant to let go and smiled, showing off a row of perfectly straight teeth.
"You're in the wars tonight, aren't you?" He said, and she realised he was the same man she had crashed into inside.
She nodded and pulled her hand away, slightly embarrassed that this stranger had come to her rescue twice in one night.
He offered her a puff of his cigarette. "It might make you feel better," he said. She took it.
"I don't think I've ever seen a girl punch a wall," he said with a smirk.
She took a deep puff. "I don't usually punch walls," she said, echoing his smirk. "It's just been one of those days."
A couple more puffs and she found herself telling this stranger about her day from hell.
They talked and she eventually forgot where she was and that her break was over. She told him about her day job. He told her about his band.
He wrote songs and his band was called Chasing Time. They played a mixture of rock and indie music. He loved the Beatles, as did she, and they fell deeper into conversation.
She was giving him her cell phone number when the door crashed open behind them. The sound startled them out of their comfortable bubble of cigarette smoke and conversation.
"There you are! We need some major help out here," came an exasperated voice from the doorway. Rosie disappeared and Sadie turned to follow her, but was stopped by a hand on her arm.
An arm came around her waist and pulled her close. She felt his dark stubble brush her skin and their lips met in a cloud of smoke, which rose up into the air, taking Sadie's day with it. "You look good in red," he whispered in her ear, and then she was gone.
Her shift finally over, Sadie made her way to the car park. The cold air struck her as she stepped outside, as did the realisation that she had not thought to ask his name. She had given him her number and let him kiss her - and kissed him back, but she did not know his name.
Weeks passed, then months, and the number she had hastily typed into the nameless musician's cell phone went unused.
Summer came and Sadie found herself browsing the CD store, one of her favourite pastimes. The words Chasing Time stared at her through the ranks of plastic squares and she picked it up. Turning it over, she saw the name of the first song. Red.
Copyright 2011 Sarah Hardie