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 :)

3. Hangovers


Three: Hangovers


There’s a tiny man with a big hammer chipping away at the insides of my skull. I groan and roll my head to the left, not wanting to open my eyes. But then the memories rush back, Sunny Brew Bar, the bartender that looked suspiciously like Garrett Brown, karaoke and Taylor Swift, going back to the apartment and the phone call with Peter. God, Garrett Brown! It really is him, I’m sure of it.

My eyes fling open and I’m still on the sofa, still in the apartment. Nausea lurches up my throat and I have to sit upright. I grab incessantly for the tablets and bottle of water on the coffee table, swallowing them down swiftly. It goes away for now, but god I’m an idiot, what was I thinking last night? That’s right, I wasn’t thinking.

The apartment is stereotypically a bachelor pad, monochrome colours and leather. But I’m drawn to the desk by the window which is sandwiched in between two bookshelves full to the brim with classical literature and recipe books. The dress drags uncomfortably as I tentatively step to the bookshelves but I ignore it in favour of noticing the no less than six editions of The Great Gatsby and four of Frankenstein. The book owner within me soars as I realise the care and money spent on these books.

There is another thing, Peter has never been entirely supportive of me leaving the office to open up Book Nook, I should have seen the warning sign right there.

But I can’t spend forever in front of the bookshelves since my bladder protests greatly and the more time spent here the more possibility of Garrett waking up, at least I hope its Garrett and not some random bartender.

I find the bathroom tucked in a corridor that probably leads to Garrett’s room, I lock it behind me and fiddle for a good ten minutes with the back buttons of my dress, why do they have to be so dainty and impossible? Garrett’s left a pile of clothes on the toilet seat a note of ‘I thought you might’ve wanted a shower,’ lying on top of a purple top and grey sweat shorts. They look like they could fit and I spend the time relieving myself and then turning the shower as hot as I can manage. I’m quick about it, not spending as long as perhaps I would want to, towelling dry and dressing, having to pull the drawstrings of the shorts as tight as they are able so they don’t fall off my hips.

I don’t think about the pile of clothes that represented my wedding day, the dress I had managed to get a bargain on, the ribbon that had been in my hair to represent something blue and my mother’s necklace of pearls to represent something old. I bundle the clothes into a bin bag that I find in the kitchen, shove my feet into my old heels, pick up the discarded money and phone, which has luckily been turned off again and sneak down the stairs I barely remember.

“Running away again I see?” a voice muses, a tone I don’t fully recognise besides cheering me on while I try to sing Taylor Swift. I startle, there’s another man stood hunched over the bar, counting out money from the register and noting the numbers in a book.

“Uhm,” I apparently can’t come up with a better response than that and the man’s grin falls as he watches me fumble across the bar.

“Garrett has the teenaged sense to let you in his apartment and you leave him like that?” he questions then grumbles something that I’m glad I didn’t catch. “Garrett Brown?” I ask stupidly, clutching the bin bag close to my chest as I stumble in the heels.

The bartender nods, his expression clearing slightly, “yes, Garrett Brown, he said you two knew each other?”

I nod, I have known Garrett since school and we had been best friends. Like all friendships; time had distorted it, gave us less time to spend with one another as I went to university and he didn’t. After that, we didn’t see much of each other, besides that one time in a coffee shop a short time ago. Now, we were both twenty-eight and feeling old. I told the bartender this and he nodded.

“He’s a good kid,” he speaks, tugging at the growing beard. He looks to be the biker type, all hard muscle and longish hair and it’s a shame that I’ve seen more of this bartender than Garrett, who I can hardly remember from last night. “No reason to run out though.”

“All my one night stands have never ended well, that’s why I run away,” I try to joke and then realise what I’ve actually just implied, the bartender raises an eyebrow in shock, “Ah, no, we didn’t, I mean I just slept, on my own on a sofa, I–“

Why can’t I stop talking? I choke and splutter on words and the bartender ends up laughing. The tension eases a little.

“Just I haven’t seen him in years and I look like a hot mess, I feel awful for him having seen me like that. Tell him to call into the Book Nook on the high street some time and we can catch up, I, ah, got a different number than last time. Yeah, we can meet up there.”

Why am I so awkward?

“It would be better if you told him that yourself,” the bartender mutters, looking almost desperately at me. He cares for Garrett, maybe as much as I once did, but I can’t be here, I’ll only put my foot further into my mouth.

“I really can’t, tell him I’m sorry, for pretty much everything at this point,” I sigh and almost run out of the bar, thanking some deity that the bartender left the key in the back of the door.

I hail a taxi and direct him to my parent's place, not wanting to fathom the possibility that Peter’s in our shared apartment. If he knew what was good for him he would have slept in the wedding suite back at Roserville.

This new taxi driver gives me an awkward side-eye, and I realise I must look like a mess in a man’s t-shirt and gym shorts, wedding high heels on my feet and a bin bag in my hands. This feels a lot like how yesterday went down.



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