Mate Dates

After running away from her husband to be, budding novelist Mara hides away in a bar, not really caring she's still in her wedding dress. In this bar, she encounters Garrett, the man she hasn't seen in ten years.
Garrett very well knows who Mara is, even if Mara doesn't recognise him through her whiskey haze, but he doesn't really mind her being there, so there she stays.


Author's note

A novella half inspired by Procrastination and binge-watching How I Met Your Mother. Enjoy :)

2. Concerned Bartenders


Two: Concerned Bartenders



There’s a woman at the bar wearing a wedding dress. She barely sits on the bar stool with a trail of six empty shot glasses and an almost empty whiskey glass in front of her.

“If you want more shots you’re gonna have to eat something,” I say and her head minutely looks up. Her eyes are red, black smears of mascara and eyeliner dripping down to her clenched jaw but she’s angry, all cried out.

I smack bags of crisps and nuts in front of her, knowing that brides usually don’t eat due to nerves. The runaway bride smacks the nuts away from her with a hiss, “I’m allergic, are you trying to kill me,” she mutters and opens a bag of crisps with her teeth.

“Eh, if the loser you ran away from didn’t kill you than those won’t,” I joke and she chuckles. She tears into the crisps like a starved animal, wiping her fingers down on her dress as she goes.

“I mean Peter was a loser, an incredible loser at that,” she hiccups halfway through the sentence, the drink already gone to her head and her eyes wander around the bar. “What is this place anyway?” She seems confused.

“Don’t tell me you walked right off the street?” I questioned, wiping down glasses with a towel. This bride clearly didn’t have her head screwed tight to her shoulders.

“I asked the driver to drop me off at the nearest bar,” she hiccups again and starts on the second bag. I point to a painted mural on the wood behind me; Sunny Brew Bar, open early to cater to alcoholics, pre-drinkers and runaway brides apparently. She coos at the name then she asks for more whiskey. I take down the bottle and leave it there, knowing the night is not through for this bride.

Sometime during the night she draws away from the bar and finds herself a booth near the karaoke stage. It’s the only seat that accommodates the wide berth of her dress but she people watches for a while, drinking in between that and zoning out.

“There’s definitely a story behind that woman,” Billy quietly muses from behind, restocking the kegs. Billy is my partner in crime, the other co-owner of the bar, and I nod along with him as my gaze is drawn to the woman in question.

“The strange ones always do bring the best stories though,” I reply and he scoffs, advancing further into the bar space to collect glasses. He’ll try to talk to her and I hope she doesn’t reply.

The night continues as she drinks enough to plough through a small horse. She topples over, leaning heavily on the table and her eyes are glassy. She claps through an alright karaoke performance then stumbles to her feet, the high heels abandoned under the table, and to the stage. She selects a song, pauses it and speaks, “Tonight I was meant to get married, at the Roserville Lodge, you know the one in town that looks like Jane Eyre’s wet dream, but my husband to be was a tool, he flirted with my bridesmaid, a cousin no less! So I’m here and I’m gonna sing some Taylor Swift because you little shits don’t have enough heartbreak in your lives.”

The crowd is amused by her and lets her yell her way through the most cringe-worthy song known to man. She pauses for a moment halfway through, “Take a drink when I say the word ‘ever’!” and some of them are even drunk enough to obey her. She taps her foot and swings around the stage like a drunk ballerina, her dress getting tangled around her feet and she nearly tumbles several times. Then, when her song is finished, she bows and looks up to the crowd, “My name is Mara Thompson, not Evans like it would have been if I married the tool, goodnight!” She releases the microphone to an amused Billy and makes her way back to me with a smile.

It should take her ten steps to the bar but it takes her twenty and I wish it had taken her forty. I know Mara Thompson, had done since I was five and a half. Shit, I know the runaway bride. What was Mara Thompson, the girl who won poetry and short story competitions like a drop of a hat, doing marrying a guy who sounded like a douchebag?

Shit, I know Mara Thompson.

And she doesn’t recognise me. Shit.

I’m swearing too much, a voice that sounds suspiciously like my mother’s chiding me in the back of my head, but the situation calls for it.

But she looks good for the near ten years I haven’t seen her, all grown up and spectacular even when inebriated. She’s changed, but it’s a good change.

“Bartender, I need another round of shots to celebrate my freedom,” she giggles and motions with her fingers for six more shots. I stand oblivious then putter into motion as she clicks drunken fingers at me. Before I can pour the first one she collapses into a seat and misses, going hard on the floor.

“Owie,” she mutters as she sits looking like a doughnut, a body surrounded by white lace and frills. Billy helps her up, Mara leaning on his arm as she blinks up at him, scrunching her eyes. She looks at me just as confusedly, she really doesn’t know who I am and it hasn’t been long since I last saw her, even when that time was for a ten-minute catch up in a coffee shop.

“I’m gonna call her a taxi,” Billy says and I’m shaking my head, why am I shaking my head? Words come out before I can stop them.

“I know her, best friends actually from when we were little. She can sleep it off in the apartment.” I say it with surety even though only a quarter of my brain is functioning. I hadn’t seen Mara in years, what was I doing?

Billy raises an eyebrow, “You sure of that?”

“Of course.” I move around the bar, pulling my wallet from behind the bar. Leafing through the photos wadded into the small space, I pull out a crumbled one of me and Mara at our graduation and hand it to Billy. He nods dubiously and I take Mara on my arm, helping her to the set of stairs behind the counter. Several times I have to stop her as she tries to take the tequila bottle from the counter, listening to her whispers which sounded like prayers to the tequila gods.

“I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into, kid,” Billy assures me and looks calculating, as though he’s already making bets on how all of this is going to go.

“I really don’t.” I answer and he laughs, disappearing back to the bar.

We go up the stairs to the loft apartment, home for the last eight years, and I drag her through the door. For a drunken woman, she carries a lot of weight, but I suspect half of it is caused by the dress. She oohs and ahhs at the furniture then reaches down her dress to lift out crumpled bills and a phone. She flicks it on and accidentally tosses it on the floor. It starts to ring as it clatters on the linoleum and she sighs. With a strength she shouldn’t have she turns under my arm and fell to the floor alongside her phone, accepting the call without even looking at the ID.

“Peter, is that you, you tool?” she giggles and crawls away when I try to take the phone away from her. She is not in the right frame of mind to speak to her ex, to anyone really.  “I left you because you were the worst, the utter worst, the complete worst. I’m saying worst too much aren’t I?” She burps and hides it with a hand, crawling farther away, around the threadbare sofa. To be honest I’m not putting much effort into catching her but I probably should. “Yes I’m drunk, I needed to get drunk after the whole fiasco, and yes I have a right to call it a fiasco since I agreed to marry you.”

Finally, I take the phone from her, placing it to my ear, “Look, dude, I don’t know what you did but she left you, deal with it and move on. She’s not cheating on you, you’re just a douche.” I halt his accusations of her sleeping with me and hang up, throwing the phone on the coffee table.

I help Mara to the sofa and disappear into the kitchen to get water and some ibuprofen. When I get back to the living room she is already asleep, still in her ruined wedding dress and the phone is clutched in her hand. I shake my head and leave the tablets on the table, she’ll regret this in the morning.

In the morning hopefully, she will know who I am. 


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