(One of the stories to be found in my book "STORIES FROM THE HEART")

The lights flashed across the water, making a reflected image of the colours. These images broken into rippling shards every so often by a passing boat. Only to magically reform a few seconds later, as the ripples stopped, the smooth mirror image returning. The soft buzz of the insects'evening concerto filled the air, merging with the rhythmic sounds of man made music. A cooling breeze gently wafted away the heat of the day, helping make way for the heat of the night.

He checked the mirror once more and flashed a smile. Yes, he would do. He looked at the mirror, blue eyes filled with a mischievous sparkle looked back at him. Yes he would do.

Picking up a bag filled with several spare shirts he would need for the night, he set off down the path towards the town. As he neared the buildings, the sound of music increased, his steps soon finding the matching rhythm. He was about to start work.

He had come to the small island during his year out before college and stayed. He laughed, that must have been over a year ago. Now he was almost one of the locals. He spent his time working in the bars, the discos, anywhere he was wanted. He loved the life, and ohhhh the girls!!!
The women on holiday!

He could always tell the new ones apart from the others. Like a ripening fruit, they went from soft pink, to painful red, to the deep golden tanned goddesses that left the island. He loved them, oh how he loved them, waiting until they were ripe before picking them. His heart had been hurt; he had fallen in love  few times, but each and every girl he had been with he always treated like a lady and he had never just used a girl for sex alone.

Tonight was just like any other; he was working. He moved behind the bar, waving to the others as he placed his bag out the back of the bar. It was early yet and just a few people were there, but he knew that soon it would be a mass of heaving bodies. He checked the bottles making sure they were all in place and full. Poured as many of the club specials as he could and leaving them on a shelf under the bar; it all saved time. The ice buckets were full for now, but in the heat of the night they would soon turn to water.

Dave the DJ was playing some old music that he liked to play, which soon would be replaced by the pulsing beat of the disco music. The first of the evening crowd drifted in, the bell was sounded for the first time as the first tip was thrown into the bucket. It had been his idea to sound the bell or sound the horn when a tip was given. He was sure it helped increase the customer’s acceptance of giving a tip, and added to the fun.

The bar started to fill, and Dave started to rev up the music, as the first bodies moved onto the dance floor. He moved up and down the bar, taking orders while serving others. He had practiced and practiced and now could manage three or four orders at a time. The tip bell sounded again and again, with the odd klaxon being sounded as a large tip was given.
The room started to heave and he caught the eye of many of the women, making sure he had a smile for each of them. Some he knew, some he wanted to know. The air beat loud with the music, men and women came together, each movement a hint and promise of things to come. He changed into yet another tee shirt, resting for a moment and looking round the heaving room. A figure at a table in the far corner of the dance floor caught his eye. She was not beautiful; he did not know what it was that caught his eye. Something was different, perhaps it was the fact that in the whole crowd of people, she was the only person who did not smile back when he flashed her his smile.

He went back to work, but at the back of his mind he could not forget the girl. He smiled at the people. He joked, and the orders were met, but his eyes kept straying to the lonely figure at the table. Many times he saw men going up to her trying every trick in the book to get her to talk, to get with her, but nobody managed. Her table had an assortment of drinks on it, but she never tasted any of them.
She sat with unseeing eyes and nobody and nothing could penetrate her shell. He could feel the hurt and despair from behind the bar and his heart ached at the site of her.

The time passed quickly, and although, he received more than one invite to promised heaven, tonight would be different. As the music slowed, couples left to continue seeking of joy and fulfillment in other locations. His shift was over; he would pick up his share of the tips tomorrow, but for now he had other thoughts and plans.

He moved to her table, and as he drew close, he could see the streaks of tears down her face. He sensed so much despair, so much hurt, it was like a force field surrounding her. He moved a chair next to the table and sat down. She did not notice him, or so it seemed, and for once he did not know what to say. He sat there and his own feelings seemed to be impregnated by her sorrow. Thoughts of home, of loneliness and a wasted life filled his mind. He had more than enough money saved up. He was good at his job, and the tips money alone was more than enough to keep him very happy.

After an age, she looked up at him and the sadness he saw in her eyes almost knocked him from his chair. He involuntarily gasped as the wave of sadness hit him. He moved his hand, and gently touched hers. It was stone cold, like her heart. Though at least she did not move it away.
Just once, she looked up, and in a voice choked with sadness and tears asked one word “Why?”
Without thinking, he put his arm around her. She froze and he stopped. But with a sob that tour his heart apart, she rested her head on his shoulder.

He did not know how long they sat like that. His shoulder was wet with tears. The night was fading, Dave had passed the music back to the cassette player behind the bar, and the tables were cleared away as the first kiss of dawn appeared in the skies. The last staff were leaving, they looked at him and the girl and placed the keys on the table in front of him; he could lock up. The room drew quiet and soft sounds played adding to the moment. His arm was round her and she seemed a bit more at peace with the world.

As the sun moved into the sky and the warmth of the morning started to seep under the bar door, without saying a word, they moved out of the bar and slowly crossed the road to the beach. He looked at her as their feet left two lines of footprints on the sea-swept sand. She would have been pretty except for the sadness that covered her like a shroud. Her eyes were ever changing, but now so red and puffed from her crying that it was hard to see them. Her face was tanned, and he guessed she had been there for a while. Yes, he thought, her face was not beautiful, but a face of beauty. Her body, now with his arm round it was all that a female body should be.

The walked along together, not a word was said. At the end, she looked up into his eyes, and kissed his cheek. But the look and the one word she had spoken were still etched in his heart “Why?”

For the first time in a long time, he went back to his room alone. He could not get her out of his mind. The sun came up and for the first time for a while reached for the phone and called his parents back in England. Of course they were surprised and overjoyed to hear from him. Of course they were worried about him, and were pleased to hear from him, and his mother let out a silent sob when at the end of the call he half whispered words he would never have said before tonight. “I love you, Mum”

The next night he worked, half of him was looking for her, but she was not there. It made the evening very lonely despite all the people in the bar.
Suddenly as the music started to slow, she was there at the same table and his heart lifted as the faintest of smiles flitted across her face as their eyes met.

As soon as he could, he made his way to her table, and this time her hand sought his. They sat for a small time like that until it was time for him to go back to work. But as he went to leave, he felt a small squeeze on his hand, just enough to know somebody was there and cared.

This time, he thought as he carried on with his work, looking at her at every chance, it would be different. She would never have to feel pain, never again would she have to ask "Why?"
He knew this time it was forever, and his life would never be the same again. His world was now and forever linked with hers.

© Barry Eva 1999