Alisha, the other side
You were here on your day off. Not that it was unusual for any of us to drink where we served… although the phrase "Don't shit where you eat," came to mind. Man, was I bitter. I was in a great mood until you walked in. An old fling of mine was at the bar, bolstering my ego and my tip jar.
Absent the trademark neon pageboy wig that was part of our uniform, I couldn't help but let my gaze linger on your face. Your finely shaped jaw line and cheekbones were almost alien to me. Had it really been so long since we were together without any of our physical armor? Maybe it just felt that way. You were the closest thing to a relationship I had had in a while. I was used to being alone, but had my share of flings that weren't much more than fun. I mean, you were fun too… but I was feeling more…
You were headed my way, but obviously not for me. I looked away so as to not get caught staring, and found myself pouring your current drink of choice.
Absentmindedly I set it on the counter as you sat at the bar. With a smile and a nod of your head, you took the glass and turned your attention to the Crown and Coke woman already seated.
I didn't know what to think, what to feel… we had been working together for over a year, sleeping together for while, but the past few weeks had been acting like polite strangers to each other. I distracted myself with other customers, but kept peering sidelong through the curtain of my electric blue wig at you talking to Crown and Coke. Being unable to help it, I located her tab at the cash register and read her name on the ID kept as collateral.
Ugh, give me a cavity…
Brittany, one of the waitresses, dropped an order ticket into my well. Good - something to do besides spy. I wasn't feeling very proud of myself, here.
It's almost too bad I was so good at my job. And that Brittany wasn't ordering anything complicated. When is this Jager Bomb fad going to end? My mind wandered as I popped open several beers and lined up shot and highball glasses.
Our drift had to have started when Joe, the floor manager, made a crack about us being an item. "So do I need to schedule you two lovebirds different shifts? I know how much drama couples can start when working together in a place like this." I was afraid to make a return comment. Joe was a notorious kidder, but I didn't want our shifts to get separated if I said the wrong thing. I also wasn't sure what kind of "couple" we even were yet. But if the manager could see it…
"Aw common, Joe," was your reply. "We're professionals. Besides, isn't inter-server-dating pretty common? We're all type A flirtatious personalities, after all."
There was a chuckle from everyone that heard you, and several shameless confessions from people that had slept together no strings attached. All were common knowledge to the staff, because you had a point. Bartenders and servers fooled around with each other all the time. I couldn't lie that I hadn't done the same. I also knew I wasn't your first conquest since starting here, either.
Conquest, huh? I had to scoff at myself there. I made all the advances. At first you denied me… playfully, but later confessed that you weren't at all confident that my attentions were warranted. Your self esteem certainly needing help. Or was hard to get your card? Perhaps I was too pushy, too complimentary, gave you too much confidence. But I won you… for a time anyway.
I was the closing bartender scheduled the night Joe made his comment. With an early college class the next day, you would normally go home alone and sleep. So I didn't call. Then you didn't call. I kept making excuses for you in my head, like I knew you were in the middle of midterms and "no-responsibilities-me" needed to give you space. We hung out at gatherings a few times after that, but eventually stopped seeing each other outside of work altogether.
Brittany slapped the counter to get my attention. I was holding the soda gun over the highballs, probably had been for a good minute. Her tray was full, she was just waiting on the bomb half of her table's Jager Bombs. I hurried through to send her on her way with an apologetic look.
I peered your way again. There were two men standing by you now, talking to Candy. Yes, I thought, cock block.
Geez, I needed to lighten up. Just because we didn't work out doesn't mean you didn't deserve a new relationship. Although rumors had been whispering about you and many "relationships."
"Two shots of Crown, please," you ordered. I silently complied. Why am I feeling so passive tonight? Damnit!
I was the alpha in our relationship, no doubt. You went along with the flow of everything I decided… but seemed happy all the while. An early memory came to mind. Summer, we closed the bar then laid out on the deck chairs out front looking at the stars. What didn't we talk about? It was amazing and wonderful… I could feel myself falling for you then. We dozed off for a spell, waking just as the sun rose. We walked back to my apartment a few blocks away arm in arm. The weather was perfect, we stumbled a few times, stone cold sober but drunk on each other.
Blue shirt was signaling for another Corona. Brittany was in the well again. Long Island, White Russian, 2 Jack and Cokes, Bud Light, Bud Light, Rolling Rock. Add to tabs, clean glasses, wipe bar.
I remember my early advances your way. Subtlety seemed lost on you so I had to practically spell it out. I am attracted to you. You were careful to not hurt my feelings with any sort of rejection, but you seemed genuinely surprised. I had to be honest with myself; I was the one to initiate most of my relationships, I've been told that because I'm good looking I can be intimidating. But usually when people aren't interested I get a polite no. Your shy questioning of my judgment made you all the more attractive to me. So down to earth. The prowler that came into the bar tonight is not someone I knew.
I suppose I gave you this cockiness. And now me, the strong one, the self-sufficient, confident one was broken.
You were a fast learner. After some shy stutter starts, the only advice you really needed to hear was harder, faster. I involuntarily shuddered with the chill that ran down my spine at the thought.
Guiness, Bud Light, Bud Light, 4 Jager bombs. Take money, count change, wipe the bar.
You called your long fingers "piano hands." I learned to call them extacsy. Massaging my inner thighs while sitting on the floor in front of me in the armchair. You were sweetly ignorant to the fact that you were an incredible tease. Thumb swipe across the crotch of my panties, wet… those long fingers grip my thighs and pull me to the edge of the seat… only to nuzzle my left leg, gnash with your teeth, lick my thigh tendon taught against the edge of my panties.
I arched my back and pushed my hips forward, encouraging, asking you to continue with my body.
You ran one of those piano fingers under my underwear, between by shaved lips, slick with desire.
Captain and Diet, Bud Light, Rolling Rock, close tab, hand change, collect tip, wipe bar. Blue shirt guy, haven't seen him before, tips well, remember his face; Corona, no wheels.
The first time we were sexual was quite an ego trip for me… you let me take charge and marvled in everything I did to you, carried out everything I asked you to do to me. When we were both mostly sated and sweaty, we finished with a joint shower. Already things felt so intimate, so right. I've always been a firm believer in being friends first… made the becoming lovers aspect that much more rewarding. This coming from a girl well versed in the one night stand? I chided myself again. Gah, you WORK FOR TIPS! I scolded, physically shaking my head as though to empty the thoughts from my ears.
Rolling Rock, wash glasses, nudge the bar back for a cooler refill, wipe bar.
Although being friends first leaves awkward truths out there… like my many one night stands you were fully aware of, even as I flirted with you. Shoot, one of the Bud Lights here tonight was mine, once. That was an experiment. Not a failed one either, if the fact that my cellphone bill just got paid when he closed his tab was any indication. I just wasn't interested in dating. But you… something about you made me want to keep you, made me think I should keep you.
Two shots of Crown, White Russian consider cutting her off, Captain and Diet, Guiness, Bud Light. Take money, ring in, make change, wipe bar - Two more shots of Crown?!
You and Candy were smiling conspiratorially, nearly touching foreheads. The sight of you so comfortable with another sent a stab of jealousy through me. I spun around to distract myself with a premature Long Island refill. I couldn't help it, though, I looked back almost immediately and met your eyes as you slid a napkin my way with a nod and arc of an eyebrow.
Thanks, hon. I'm covering Candy's tab, too. She "forgot" her ID. was scrawled on the napkin beside several bills. Covered Candy's tab as well as yours plus tip, had I been charging you. Perks of the job, I reasoned with myself. Habit, we spoil our coworkers.
Grr… how inconsiderate, make me responsible for this girl's ID! I thought angrily. I accidentally knocked a pint glass to the floor and it broke with a crash.
I jumped at the sound, face hot, but I made a polite bow to the customers as the traditional round of applause for breaking things in a bar broke out. Brittany rolled her eyes at me with a wry smile then leaned over the bar, "You ok? You're not all here tonight." she asked, voice loud as a necessity, I knew she wasn't yelling at me. I shook my head and ran off to get the broom. She caught my elbow as I rounded the bar, "Dude, it's a slow night. Ask to get cut early, the rest of us got this."
She was right. I didn't need to be here. The regulars were all leaving about now, the partiers were at or nearing the cut-off point, if I left, it would boost the others' tips. I had already made out like a bandit despite how distracted I was.
Joe didn't mind me leaving. As I counted down my drawer and closed all my open tabs, I came across Candy's collateral. She had said she was going to pay cash, but wanted a tab opened. Bar policy made us keep some form of important card, usually a credit card though, to hold a cash tab open. She lived in my building. Opposite end, one floor up, but my building. I hadn't thrown away your note. "forgot" her ID jumped out at me. Why would you put forgot in quotes? You made her forget…
I'm not a jealous person. Not the dramatic type. I don't fall into gossip trains, in fact, I'm honest to a fault sort-of to avoid gossip. No blackmail when things are all out there… But the temptation to knock on Candy's door was there. Almost like I had been invited. It would read like a soap opera: jealous lover intrudes on ex while with new love interest, I was not that kind of person… was I?
I walked home quickly, the crisp air making me regret not bringing a jacket tonight. Warm in the building, I found myself climbing the stairs slow and dejectedly. My mind wouldn't shut off. I felt like a schoolgirl who's crush asked someone else to a dance. I reached the door and grabbed the handle as I dug in my pocket for keys. It turned. Oops, I thought guiltily.
I stood in the dark foyer for a split second, heart racing. This isn't like me this isn't like me… isn't like you, either.
I strode to the bedroom, mind made up, flipped on the light.
"Why don't you love me?" I cried. Oh god, there were two in the bed with you.
"I don't want to," you shot back, standing up. This isn't like me this isn't like me.
I saw it in slow motion, my hand slapping across your face. I'd done that before, but it was invited then, playful. Tonight the hand didn't even feel like mine. But man, didn't you look marvelous just now? Standing tall, eyes flashing, holding me captive regardless of the commotion of two women trying to get dressed behind you.
"I made you, created you, you were supposed to be for me. But what are you now? I created a monster!" Tears started. This isn't like me this isn't like me…
"It wasn't supposed to be like this," I choked, voice breaking. "Perhaps what I did was wrong, or you just weren't ready for it, but I love you. I was so lonely until the day I met you. Something told me you were different, you could be like me." I covered my face, ashamed, "I'm so sorry. You weren't ready, I knew that too, it was my neediness that rushed you. I am so sorry, so sorry, I love you." Tonight was the first time I said it, even to myself. But I did, I loved you… it took this to make me admit it??
I did rush you, though. Took liberties that being friends first makes seem easy. Crossing the physical line, phoning every day, assuming things before finding out if they were true. I peeked through my fingers, you had your arms open.
This isn't like me this isn't like me, I'm sobbing, for christ's' sake! But I stepped in and let you hold me. The realization that I was taller than you while in my heels made me want to chuckle. Wow, what a pair we're turning out to be, I couldn't help but think. Me, the alpha, in charge, confident, competent, developed a thick skin early, was called intimidating for it, but it was a sort of defense, I suppose.
I pulled back, sobs relatively under control, "You are afraid to love me, and afraid to admit that you just might anyway," I said softly. Please be right, I willed. I think I am, though. How else could I explain your behavior? I gave you the confidence to run around picking up random women, but I probably gave you the need to do it, too. You were so down to earth, so self-depreciating, so shy before me… you didn't trust your own worth, didn't believe me when I called you wonderful. Were you trying to prove me wrong with all this fooling around? Or right? Were these past few weeks even about me?
Your eyes searched mine, reading what I couldn't say. You pulled me to your mouth and I let you kiss me. Thank you, I was right. I returned the kiss melting against you and almost whimpered when you pulled back. I just felt so right to be in your arms.
"Forgive me?" you asked, and I saw tears in your eyes. "I love you," you said softly, "Yes… I love you. Yes was afraid, but I don't want to be anymore. Let's go home."
I nodded, biting my lip. You love me you love me you love me… I didn't hear anything you said as you dressed, you were talking to the two women watching us, incredulous looks on their faces.
A piece of me wondered if I should have forgiven you so easily. But I had to… you had stuff to work out, I could actually relate. Sure, it would have been nice to be included in your working out process, but I still couldn't be mad. I was the first woman you had ever been with. There can be a lot to figure out after that. "Um, Meredith, can I hold your hand on the way home?" I asked, shyly. We were only going across the building and down a flight of stairs, man I was a schoolgirl.
"No Alisha," you answered, "I'm going to hold yours."