Caitlin Snow sighed as she checked the time on her phone again to make sure it wasn't deceiving her. She made a mental note to decline the next time someone from work sets her up on a blind date. This wasn't a necessity for her, she valued her alone time.
Not that anyone in her life would understand. Apparently it took effort to really listen to someone these days. In Caitlin's eyes, social media has ruined the dating world. Her friends at work were keeping up with the latest apps but Caitlin didn't bother learning the trends; she didn't lead a pathetic life either. It just was, it just is, there was nothing wrong with not forcing something to happen.
She glanced around the restaurant looking at the couples, some young some older, all familiar, just not to her. Caitlin couldn't relate, she had a feeling she didn't belong here, this place was too crowded with lucky people. She didn't feel right being here since she was the only one sitting alone. She could feel the eyes of passer byes giving her the eye of judgment.
This had to have been the worst feeling. Waiting for something to happen, tapping her fingers along the dinner cloth for a sign that the risk paid off. She hated rude awakenings more than anything. This was not shocking knowing her streak of ill timed luck. Clearly people just can't tell each other they aren't interested.
Caitlin shook her head before she had a chance to ponder it over and asked for the check. She figured if she was going to stick around she might as well order a dessert. A sort of reward for being publicly rejected, she memorized this song before, hummed it in her sleep, now it was playing over in her mind like a pestering monster rendering her deaf from the noise. It is possible to be so numb from monotony. She was living proof of it.
She took the train here which made the ride back seem even more like a 3am return. It's not even most of her friends had abandoned her, she wondered if there were any real ones left. She was 28, the older she became; the more she wanted it to just make sense for once.
After paying the bill and leaving a tip which she couldn't really afford, she stood up and made her way through the bitter cold winds of Central City in the pitch black night. During Fall transitioning into the Winter time, the weather had gotten worse than she last remembered. It didn't used to be this chapped, the Fall season before had moments where she could dive in and remember for years to come. Now it was an unrecognizable battle of skies having a strangled argument with the city.
It matched her mood, the vibes of the weather probably made things worse lately Caitlin had begun to accept it. Not like she had the power to control how cold it should get but she wished it was more tolerant so she could feel normal again.
Her mind was stuck on a nice warm cup of Swiss Miss topped with marshmallows right now. Heat, she needed heat right now; the warmth and sweet softness of hot chocolate. She had thoughts of cancelling coming into work tomorrow just to recover from the reality of tonight. She preferred to be indifferent and just ignore it all together but she couldn't. She was still human, she wasn't made of ice, and she still felt things even if they didn't matter to anyone else.
She didn't want to hate life; instead it was the people that made life unbearable that she wanted to it wish away. There was a saying out there that she knew all too well: "I dare anyone to be happy. Just try." Caitlin's concluded whoever said that needed to personally reevaluate their words. You can't force yourself to be happy. The minute you "try" something manages to disrupt it. Someone, something. The only true statement that kept ringing chimes in her mind was: "nothing lasts forever but life sure felt long in spite of it."
Caitlin ironically refused to become a depressant, yet she felt like it was an option she couldn't phase out. Like most aspects of life it wasn't in her control. It was just best to avoid people, even the ones who "tried to help you." How many times did she need to hear an elder say that to her as if it was going to make a difference?
She checked the time on her phone and still frowned that were no messages from her supposed "date of the night." Being stood up wasn't supposed to sting this hard, but it did. For a long time Caitlin tried her best to do without dating, it's not that suitors were lining up for a chance with her. She had a very plain look, wore next to hardly any make up and had a permanent 15lbs she was supposed to get rid of last Thanksgiving; so much for setting unattainable New Year's resolutions. Better luck to someone else more committed. Maybe she didn't have the gumption to care or the will to make an effort.
The subway ride back was something she had to grumble through. Wasn't quite the walk of shame but it might as well be. She didn't like taking the train but the express line was the fastest way to get home, a taxi would take hours just on the wait time. You gambled with your life if you hailed a cab after 10pm.
Nevertheless Caitlin managed to get home in one piece. Her dodgy apartment had its wear and tear, no different than how it looked like when she first moved here. The bars around the windows did nothing to make tenants feel safe. You had to take safety precautions in your own hands. The burglaries rose up in months and all law enforcement did was turn a blind eye while taking tax dollars from the citizens of Central City. The thing is it wasn't really in the heart of Central City. It felt more like South Central Los Angeles than sunny forecasts and not bothering to check the deadbolt on the door twice.
Her door was clicking again. She made a mental note to tell the manager about it the next time she saw him. The walls were paper thin; you could hear whispers that made you think the place was haunted by apparitions. Caitlin smirked as she took off her coat and got changed for bed. The couple next door was at it again, Caitlin hoped they were using protection this time. She giggled when she heard what sounded like a skull thumping against the wall. Motel 6 eat your heart out. Caitlin drowned it out as usual; she huddled her shoulders and checked the thermostat. Her room always felt the coldest; it'd take a full hour for the heater to reach full power. Meanwhile Caitlin grabbed what she needed to make the Swiss Miss with marshmallows.
She tapped her fingers along the counter, looking around. The place was drafty, old and falling apart but it could have been worse so she rarely complained.
She switched on the TV and went to turn off the boiling milk, setting it aside. She got the marshmallows ready as she poured the milk over the chocolate mix, already smelling the sweet aroma in her favorite coffee cup. She doubled the amount of marshmallows this time. She deserved to get a little fat after tonight.
She was more disappointed than she was angry. It just made her feel numb to put herself out there. There was so much nonsense she didn't want to bother trying to seek it out. It's not like her would be date owed her anything, but it was fair to at least tell her he couldn't come if that was the case. It wasn't the first time Caitlin was stood up and she had a feeling it wasn't going to be her last. Guys just don't look her way unless she was in their way. Even then it barely counted.
The holidays were gloomy. They didn't have to be but Caitlin wasn't in charge of the variant of flickering moods that permeated the day. Instead she found solace in the mundane, this being one of those nights. She brought her hot coco and nestled on the couch, sitting in semi silence as the news came on. Local news was something mandatory but she found herself about to channel surf until a breaking news headline rang out that caught her attention.
"Good evening, this is Govanna Lara with an Eyewitness News brief. Breaking news: in the heart of Central City, there was a piled up on I5 near the I10 off way ramp exit. An accident stalled oncoming traffic as a young man, son of Henry and Nora Allen, of Allen Corporations, Barry Allen, 28, remains in critical condition. Allen is slated to have leaped into the intersection without looking and was hit upon side impact, causing his vitals to shut down immediately upon full force. No word yet on wither the accident was deliberate or accidental; new details to emerge as soon as Central City Police Department delve into investigation. CCPD is on location gathering evidence."
Caitlin's pursed her lips upon hearing this. The news cut away before video footage could show the victim's face more clearly. She caught a small glimpse of his face in a headshot, vaguely remembered his features. Barry Allen? She'd heard of the family, never that name.
"Rich. Lucky. Accident. That's tragic." She said aloud. Suddenly her life didn't seem so bad. "Hope he's OK."
Caitlin's ringtone vibrated and she took a few seconds to answer it; unenthusiastically.
"Hello sweetie, did he show up?" It was Marne, Caitlin's co-worker.
"Whatever." Caitlin mumbled, flipping through the channels.
"Sorry honey. I did my best to fix you up with my friend's son. I apologize for his behavior tonight." she said, her middle aged voice coughed from the cigarettes she smoked earlier.
Caitlin rolled her eyes. "I don't know, I wasn't invested in it that much. I love being alone."
"Sweetheart I've been alone since Peter died, I miss him every day. He was my friend and the best person I knew. I just want amazing things to happen for you." Marne said in her librarian voice. "If I could have him back, I would, but I can't now. I wish you could have a little bit of what I had."
Caitlin phased it through just like the other times Marne stressed how she felt about Caitlin's personal life.
"It's not something you can just wish upon a star. This is not fiction Marne it's reality. It doesn't happen because you want it to. When mom was still here she would say it's either there or it's not. Still applies today."
"Your mother was a great person, I knew her before you were born. But she wouldn't have had it any other way. I don't believe she would have been happier by herself. She needed your father, just like he needed her."
That's the thing, nobody needs me. "Yeah well, they aren't here. I can't hang on to that anymore."
Caitlin spent too much time worrying about her relationships; she wasn't going to push it anymore. She did this for Marie, the woman lived by herself, she had friends and family that came to visit her but they all had their own lives. Marie was truly alone and never let Caitlin forget it.
"I know. I'm sorry for bringing it up, I just feel for you. What are your plans for New Years?"
The usual, a bar, scoffing to myself while drunks cheer at each other, silently cry in my bed. "I'll probably just watch the countdown and fall asleep before it all starts."
"You could come by. You shouldn't start the new year alone."
"I'll get back to you on that." Caitlin cleared her throat, changing the subject quickly. "I'll talk to you again soon; I have to go to bed."
"Alright honey, let me know if you need anything, I'm a phone call away."
"Sure thing, goodnight." Caitlin clicked off after she heard Marne say goodnight back and curled up on against the couch.
Her mind wouldn't sit still like she wanted. This night was not a good one. Not the way she hoped it would go. Wishing for something never worked out the way she wanted, not in her world. It almost felt like she wouldn't find happiness even if she did everything right in her life.
The rain came back as it tapped on the window. Caitlin noticed the window was slightly open and moved to shut it while rolling for eyes. She took in the view of the sky, how deeply blue it was even in the foggy mist of the rain cascading down. She slowly shut the window looking out of her view, one of the best things about living up top are the views that begged to be recorded for memory. Caitlin found herself staring like she had before many times. Rubbing her shoulders she wondered for a moment. Is this all her life was going to be: spectacular views while alone?
All the lights had turned off before she could mentally answer.
"Great, now this makes the night complete." Caitlin huffed, touching the surfaces to get a better feel until she could see more clearly in the dark.
She found her phone and turned on the flashlight app illuminating her way. She went to the power box to check to make sure everything was turned on. She didn't want to fiddle with it, but everything looked normal. Why did the power have to go off now?
She shook her head; walking back to the kitchen she noticed the clock was unplugged out of its socket. She picked up the cord and shocked backward so hard she fell to the ground with a thump.
All she saw was black and dark while trying to keep awake; her head hurt as she fought the sinking feeling that threatened to cover senses. They won slowly as she turned her head to the side, for a long moment she was numb to the world.