Short Stories

“Rather a nice bottle,” he thought, pulling it from its box and untapping it. It had been a surprise gift from work for a promotion he didn’t want, and he poured a healthy shot of the amber liquid over two uneven ice cubes, and held it to his nose.

“Smells like whiskey.” He knew very well that he was no connoisseur, yet as he took an eager gulp, his taste buds exploded with excitement, and a warm rush rose in his chest. He had drunk this whiskey before, many years before, sat outside in the summer heat, just like he was now.

His friend Dan had pilfered a bottle from his father’s garage, and the naive teens enjoyed the liberating lift of the alcohol, unaware of how expensive the bottle had been. They played guitars, and at a certain point during the night, looked up to see the city sky twinkling with the light of a million fireflies.

This delectable memory caused David to smile, and as he took another sip from the beaker, he tilted his head upwards. At first he saw nothing, but on adjusting his glasses, he began to see little flecks of green light appearing over the deep yellow of the light polluted sky. His heart felt like it was caving in.

He felt so alone. So tired. And somehow bereaved.

How had they lost the energy of youth so quickly?

He began spooling through memories in his head, intermittently stopping to refresh his glass. Where had the good times gone? He no longer stayed out all night, he no longer talked to women in bars, he never wandered the city late at night seeking out adventure. But maybe he could do.

One memory brought a particular joy to him, a winter night out with Dan at university. They had begun drinking and playing FIFA in the late afternoon, settled in at the student union bar with a selection of pocket cans, before then heading out to their favourite bar, and dancing the night away in its indie disco upstairs room. They had then left the bar, and taken photos of each other posing in the middle of the deserted, late night dual carriageway that ran through the city centre.

This was the night he would try and recreate. He had to rediscover the illustrious poetry of his youth. He had to find adventure once more, and prove to himself that he wasn’t the business drone it seemed he had inadvertently become.

He flicked through the contacts in his phone, and called Dan.


The plan was set, and it had been rigorously discussed to make sure it almost exactly mirrored the events of that night of revelry several years earlier.

“We’ve gotten really bad at FIFA,” said Dan dryly, the score standing at 4-3.

“Fewer hours to waste I guess,” replied David.

“Shall we hit the bar early?” suggested Dan. “I’m fed up of conceding embarrassing goals.”

David agreed, and they pulled on their coats, filled them with cans, and strode out into the wintry chill of mid November. On arrival at the student union bar, they noted a broad security guard stood by the door. He did not search them, but spooked them into ordering a pint from the bar, and as they stood in the queue, they were pleased to see a muddle of post-grad students sat at the various tables

“Three pound seventy for a pint of brown! You’re joking!” blurted Dan. The bartender wasn’t joking.


They sat down, slipped their heavy coats off their shoulders and onto the back of  their seats, and began talking of old times. This sustained them for their purchased pint, and one sneaky can of strong polish lager, but they then began to tire, and sat in silence for a while. This had never seemed to be problem in their friendship, but it did arouse the suspicions of the security guard, who kept a keen eye on them for the next few minutes.

As David pulled a can of Tennents from his pocket, the security guard darted over, grabbed his shirt by its shoulder, and asked them to leave. Dan began to object, but David had already stood up, ready to make his way outside.

“For fuck’s sake! What’s the point of an SU bar if you can’t drink shady pocket pints!?” yelled Dan as they left.

Outside they sat down on the steps, and finished the remaining six cans, staring out their breath rise above the icy lawn in front of them.

“This is a lot like the olden days,” said Dan.

“Pretty sure I didn’t feel the cold as much back then,” whispered David.

“I think I felt more alone though…Takeaway?”

David nodded, and for the remaining hour before Morrissey’s opened they sheltered under the sterile glow of kebab shop lights.

They entered the bar early, expecting to wait an hour or so before things picked up, but as they watched people trickle in, they were alarmed by how young and confident the crowd seemed. The bar used to be a refuge for the shy, socially isolated Smiths fan, but it seemed it had perhaps turned into just another anonymous night spot. As the floor began to fill, David and Dan remained seated throughout a barrage of early 2000s indie hits, quietly awaiting The Cure, or Blur, or maybe even Morrissey, to restore this now seemingly meaningless place to its formerly hallowed status.

But alas, no such song came, and the two of them slunk dejectedly out around midnight.

“Well that was pointless.” Muttered Dan. “What now?”

“The photos. If we can get the photos we can salvage the night,” replied David, his disappointment now transforming into  a fierce determination.

They wandered east, back towards where they had lived in their second year, and after a stop at an off licence, reached the dual carriageway. A lone car would drive past every couple of minutes, but the roar of the engine would alert them to its approach. They sat on the tarmac, drinking special brew and taking photos of each other messing about in the road, and each time a car approached they would run to the side and leap over the barrier, revelling in the success of their childish endeavour.

They did this a handful of times, until David began to recreate the most iconic of their photos, him walking along the white line, one foot in front of the other, his arms out to balance. He looked up at the streetlights, and smiled gleefully, resting quietly in the perfect moment.

“Car!” shouted Dan, and the two of them dashed back behind the barrier.

“Seems a lot slower than the rest,” whispered David a few seconds later behind the barrier, noting that the engine’s growl was still fairly low. All of a sudden the amber light was mixed with sharp flashes of blue and white, and a police car stopped in front of them.

Dan took flight, dashing up the embankment into the houses, but David was not fast enough, and was soon wrestled to the ground, tears in his eyes. He submitted to the power of the officer, and allowed him to drag him into the car.

The night was a failure. They had set out, in some way, to prove that time didn’t exist, but it did, and its slow advance was harrowing. David sobered up quickly in the back of the police car, and began to feel queasy.

Out of the window, through his blurry, crying eyes, he strained to see the fireflies above the city, but he saw only the repetitive glare of the streetlights passing over him.

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