Shine A Light

Shine A Light

A Story by Timothy Ryan

    I wish I had the guts to burn that picture. I probably thought about it a thousand times over the past year. I could never bring myself to do it, though. There was nothing but excuses every time I came close; it was too passive-aggressive, it would make a mess, it wasn't that big of a deal and what, now you're an arsonist all of the sudden? It just wasn't my style to be so impulsive about something that was so important. Above all else, it would mean letting go. Letting go of what I once held so close, letting go of all the what ifs, letting go of who I once was and letting go of Stefanie. That b***h.
    That b***h who I would do anything for not too long ago. Not too long ago, I could have reasoned anything with the fact that I was in love. Anyone who tells you love is the greatest feeling in the world, is a god damn liar. No one ever wants to tell it how it really is. Either that, or they just haven't been "in love" long enough for it to all fall to s**t. They'll say nothing but the good things; "I feel thankful for every single day", "They make me want to be a better person", "I feel complete", "We don't have sex, we make love". Yeah, f*****g, right. They're just buying into their own bullshit. That's all it is. Deep down, they feel just as miserable as the rest of us. They close their eyes while they're f*****g, picturing it was someone else they were with. They wonder what happened to their old high school sweetheart. They think what their life would be like if they made different decisions. And those are the people who claim to be "in love".
    No one will ever warn you what that pretty girl you see from a distance is capable of. All you think about is how beautiful she is and what you would do if you were ever given the chance to be alone with her. Right there, it's already too late. You've already started to dig your own grave. That girl's love is as beautiful as an atom bomb. It'll eventually blow up and wipe-out everything in your life. Those nights you talked until the sun came up will turn into blackout arguments at the top of your lungs. That person you'd do anything for, vanishes into someone you no longer trust. That bond of unquestionable love you shared asks the question, is this person really worth it? That's the part people won't tell you about falling in love.
    Those and many other thoughts always came up whenever I thought about that picture of Stefanie and I. And I always thought about that picture every time I went out, like I was doing that night. I questioned if I should have at least hidden it before I left the apartment. What if a girl came home with me that night? That wouldn't be uncomfortable at all for her to see a picture of me and an ex, right? God damn it. I knew I should have burned that picture into a million f*****g ashes. It would be too much of a hassle to explain, and I didn't want to explain anything. I just wanted to be free and get drunk with my friend Paul.
    The air was humid that night in June. Clothes slightly stuck to my body from the summer heat, and a fresh breeze felt like a gift from the heavens. Other than that, the stars were out and so were all the beautiful girls. They were the reason we dressed up so well. Dress shoes, jeans, a button up shirt and neatly, combed hair. Paul and I decided to do anything we could to gain the slightest advantage for female companionship that night. Even if it meant dressing like we never did. Which really did nothing to boost our desirability in the end, because everyone dressed up. But we felt like kings nonetheless.
    We walked down the sidewalks, a few blocks away from the bars, smoking cigarettes and dreaming the night ahead of us out loud.
    "I swear to god, I'm not going home tonight without a girl," Paul declared as he exhaled smoke from his nostrils, gazing up at the sky. "We're just as good as anyone else who's out tonight. We just have to be confident about it. Then, they're all ours."
    "You act like you're gonna pull it off just as easy as you say it. Most likely, you're going home alone with some slices of pizza, and you'll jerk-off to a girl you didn't make a move on, who probably went home with some other guy who did," I said.
   "Man, f**k you, Ryan. You'll see. You're gonna be the one going home with pizza and disappointment. Not me."
    "Add in some drinks, and that sounds like a pretty damn good night to me. Beer, pizza and no let downs,"  I countered back.
    "You're killing my vibe. Try to be positive, you know? Bad energy will give you bad interactions."
    "And so will bad ideas."
    "Whatever you say. Just don't be surprised when I'm leaving at the end of the night, and there's a girl around my arm," Paul warned.
    I wouldn't be surprised, because it wasn't going to happen. Women had a way of sniffing out false confidence. It was like cheap jewelry. They knew it wasn't real, no matter how nice it looked, and what they actually wanted was diamonds. Diamonds were the real deal. Diamonds spoke for themselves. They didn't need pep-talks, they didn't need to boast, they didn't need to dress up and they didn't need to feel confident. They were all of that on their own. And Paul just didn't have the same shine as they did.
    "Yeah, yeah. So, where do you want to head to first?" I changed subjects to stop Paul's self-motivating rant.
    "I say we dive right in. Lets go to a cheap bar to get shots. Then, once we're feeling warmed up, we head to places we actually want to go to."
    "Alright," I exhaled the last of my cigarette and flicked it into the street. "Sounds like a plan to me."
    "Ryan," Paul placed his arm around my shoulder and squeezed with a big smile. "Lets do this tonight, buddy. Are you ready?!"
    I pushed his arm off from around me. Jesus Christ. If that was his plan of action, he was fucked. It was cheesy, it was desperate, it was Paul.
    "If you're touching me all night, girls are going to get the wrong idea."
    "F**k you," Paul said as we approached the corner of the first bar we went into that night. 
    The night has a way of bringing out the animal in people. Whether it's the drinks, the stars in the sky, the secrets in shadows or no responsibilities the next day, we shed the skin of who we normally are. We dress up, we take chances we wouldn't, we put a muzzle on self-conscious thoughts. We howl to the moon and prowl freely, without fear of any consequences. There was a hint of all of that in each shot we took at the first bar. I loved the taste.
    It didn't take long for me to forget where I was. Shots of whiskey and tequila had a way of drowning out my sense of existence. It was a free getaway. Just have a few drinks, and watch the world spin around while you enjoy the views. Who doesn't love a free vacation like that? When the ride stopped, I looked around and realized we were amongst the animals. We were deep in the jungle that was the downtown nightlife.
    We were our own ecosystem, existing in between the wooden walls and floors of the barroom. We needed something to keep us alive. So, we picked drinks from the counter, like fruit from low-hanging trees. We even separated into different tribes, standing in semi-circles amongst our own kind. The scavengers; lurking through the room, looking for anyone who would buy them a drink or bum them a cigarette. The gatherers; huddling together in groups for safe haven, hoping that strength in numbers would distract from the fact of how out of place they were. The hunters; covering themselves in warpaint, dressing as well as they could, equipping themselves with drinks to offer, setting their traps. They searched out the room, tracking down what they craved like a pack of wolves salivating at the mouth. They always attacked when they saw what they wanted. The poor, innocent, unsuspecting prey. The prey; those beautiful girls that seem to do nothing but smile, loving every second that life has to offer. They were always dancing together in front of the band, shaking their sundresses, flaunting their curves and singing along to every word of every song. They were in every bar in the world, completely unaware of the savages that were ready to tear them apart, watching them from across the room. They were at the top of our animal kingdom. Whether they knew it or not, they ruled us all.
    It's strange to me how people try to be something they're not when they're in the company of strangers. Whether it's kissing a*s, laughing at bad jokes, or in Paul's case, trying to think of the perfect opening line to say. Paul and I were drinking some beers, roaming through the jungle. He was planning to make his move on a girl he saw dancing when it happened. Everything around me seemed to melt away; the walls, the people, the drink in my hand and any chance of having a good night. There she was; smiling, dancing, laughing, being beautiful and free. Her black hair flowing through the air, her deep, brown eyes, that used to hold visions of a happy future in them, shining under the lights. And those hips, those hips swaying to the music. Those hips that used to rock against my waist. They all belonged to Stefanie. That b***h. I felt my grave digging deeper.
    My first instinct was to run. I felt vulnerable. I didn't want her to see me. I didn't need her to know she was doing better off than me. I couldn't let her have that satisfaction. She already took enough of me with her. I needed that advantage more than her. That would be just like her too. Taking whatever she could. Selfish b***h. I felt weak. My stomach was fluttering, my heart was pounding, my mind was racing. I felt like she could crush me if she wanted to, without even meaning to do it. It would be as simple as her talking to another guy. That would set off the thoughts that would spiral me down into insanity. Did she know him? Did she think he looked good? Would she dance with him? Would she go home with him? Would he be better than me? How could she like anyone better than me? I couldn't stomach the idea seeing a sight like that. F*****g a. I couldn't get rid of her. I swear, it was God's cruel way of punishing me for being a dickhead in another life. I grabbed the pack of cigarettes from my pocket and ran for the door.
    I was a coward, but I didn't give a s**t. Why face something that's going to kill you when you can just get the hell out of it's way? I exhaled the cigarette smoke, trying to think about anything else when Paul came outside. I knew he wasn't going to be happy. Anything that got in the way of him getting p***y, he tended to be intolerable of.
    "What the hell was that?" Paul shrugged his shoulders and stared at me with one eyebrow raised. "Are you trying to ditch me or something?"
    "No. I just had to get out of there," I answered.
    "Well, what the hell, Ryan? You just left me alone in there with my dick in my hand, looking like a jackass."
    "Let's just go to another bar. F**k that place," I tried to shift the attention elsewhere, but my behavior was too spontaneous to ignore.
    "Why, what's wrong with this one?" Paul asked.
    I knew it was coming. I'd have to explain that Stefanie was in there. It would open me up and make me seem feeble. I tried to think of an excuse, but nothing else came to mind. I was ruined. I was soft. I wasn't a true man. Maybe more liquor would have given me courage.
    "I saw Stefanie in there. I don't need to be around that tonight."
    "Man, f**k that b***h," Paul declared.
    "Hey, don't say that kind of s**t." I warned.
    Who did he think he was? He couldn't just call the girl I used to love a "b***h". He didn't deserve to. He hadn't been through it with her like I had. You have to earn the right to use that word. You have to walk through the fire, get burned and still come out alive to be able to call someone such a deep word. I had been through it all. I earned the right.
    "Sorry. You say it all the time, though."
    "Yeah, but I'm allowed to."
    "My bad. So, now what?"
    "I don't know. Seeing her kind of ruined the night for me, honestly. I might just go home. I'm sorry. I think I saw Alex in there with Jack and them. So, you don't have to fly solo the rest of the night."
    "It's cool," Nick put out his hand, and we shook farewell. "Let's do something sometime this week. I got Wednesday off."
    "Alright. I'll give you a call. I'll see you later."
    "Later," Paul said before he walked back inside. I stomped my cigarette out and got in the next taxi I saw, and rode home.
    I turned the lights on in my apartment, and fell back into my mattress. I was lost in my thoughts. I was such a little b***h. Seriously, what the f**k was wrong with me? How long would Stefanie have this hold on me for? Would I ever be able to break free? I never felt so lonely than when I looked at the blank space on the mattress where she used to sleep. On some nights, I'd find my myself holding the pillows close out of habit of having her there. Jesus Christ, I really needed to man up. What the hell was the matter with me? F**k it. I decided enough was enough. I sat on the edge of my bed with the picture of us and my lighter. I was ready to put the past behind me. I flicked the lighter, watching the small flame glow in front of me. I felt weak, again. I knew it was no use. She had me. No matter how bright they would be in the future, new flames would never be able to hold a candle to her.
   




   

© 2016 Timothy Ryan



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Featured Review

It is a real life struggle. All the hurt the anguish the pain. How can you pour them out into words. I think you did a great job here. Broke my heart and made me fighting mad at other times. Even though it is something personal to you it is relatable. Thanks for sharing it.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Timothy Ryan

1 Year Ago

Thank you for taking time to read and review. It's definitely a topic everyone can relate. It's prob.. read more
Sammie

1 Year Ago

Anytime Tim



Reviews

It is a real life struggle. All the hurt the anguish the pain. How can you pour them out into words. I think you did a great job here. Broke my heart and made me fighting mad at other times. Even though it is something personal to you it is relatable. Thanks for sharing it.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Timothy Ryan

1 Year Ago

Thank you for taking time to read and review. It's definitely a topic everyone can relate. It's prob.. read more
Sammie

1 Year Ago

Anytime Tim
In many ways, your dialogue & internal dialogue is realistic & relatable for the situation. My only drawback was that the internal dialogue went on & on a bit too long in a few places. The reading of this story picked up when there was more action & actual dialogue . . . whereas my eyes glazed over a little bit during a few of the longest internal pondering sessions. The internal dialogue is strongest when expressing gut-level feelings, often a bit harsh or vulgar. The internal dialogue gets a little boring when it's explanatory & philosophical. There's a long paragraph describing different archetypes in the bar . . . this could be one of the strongest expository internal dialogue passages, if each archetype had a separate paragraph & if a couple of them were fleshed out more. Toward the end, we knew he was going to go back & burn the picture, so the actual happening was a bit of an anti-climax. It could've used a bit more drama surrounding this ceremony, like maybe him throwing his fake fancy clothing into the burning heap. Sorry for offering up so many possible "fixes" . . . the story is good the way it is, but it could be stronger.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Timothy Ryan

1 Year Ago

Thank you for taking the time to read and review as always. I don't necessarily think it could be st.. read more

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Added on June 27, 2016
Last Updated on June 30, 2016

Author

Timothy Ryan
Timothy Ryan

NY



About
I'm a writer who has nothing, but is on his way to having it all. Follow me on instagram @ timothyryan1990 for more debauchery. more..

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Foreword Foreword

A Chapter by Timothy Ryan


Chapter One Chapter One

A Chapter by Timothy Ryan



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