Drawings of Natalie

This is a short story I wrote a while back and having been submitting unsuccessfully. As part of my effort to give up on submitting things to publications and just put them on my blog I am putting it up here instead of restarting the tedious and almost always pointless process of submitting my stuff to places.


I sit alone at the bar waiting for my friends to show up. They are late again. A couple on an awkward first- or second-date is munching on wings. He ordered hot. She has salt and pepper. His hands are sticky. Hers are clean. A pile of hand wipes and napkins lies between them.

I calculate the odds that they will break up or hook up, adding and subtracting points based on facial expressions and gestures. My pencil traces their shapes and the table and chairs between us.

I used to draw conclusions and now I draw sketches of Natalie. She hangs up clothes and I draw outlines of our damp wardrobe hanging from the line.

I make sure that my sketchbook is in my backpack when I hear the car in the driveway. We head towards the outskirts of town. I trace intersections and traffic jams. Hasty impressions made on paper. Bumps and turns keep me on my toes.

The countryside spreads out beside us. Fields and trees appear in the corner of my eye. The road points endlessly towards the horizon.

We pitch the tent hastily. Long metal poles turn lose fabric into a structure. They provide crisp lines and curves in bright colours against the forest that surrounds us. Shades of grey and charcoal do not do it justice.

I used to draw swords and coats of arms. There was something so captivating about the medieval world. This combination of violence and chivalry. Uncertain but also exciting. Then again we always leave out the grime, poverty and disease.

My friends and I would go to the sword store and look at the Lord of the Rings replicas. The hilts and blades were a thing of beauty. They hardly seemed like they were designed for battle and death.

I used to sit in office buildings. Starring at computer screens I imagined a world of HTML. A new CSS code would nicely redecorate this drab space. Old bookshelves that don’t match our desks would be replaced with sleek Scandinavian design.

I used to draw up plans, my mind racing a hundred miles a minute into the future. I imagined who I would be and what I would do. It was fun to let it all play out. None of those plans ever seemed to bear fruit. My interests and ideas were forever changing. Shifting like tectonic plates my ideas for the future were far from solid.

Now I go with the flow, jumping from moment to moment, keeping my plans open. In the past I would’ve imagined beautiful futures for Natalie and I. Lists of names for children would’ve been composed and trips to foreign destinations taken in my head.

Our future does not need daydreams or colour coded maps. It will be both better and worse than anything I could come up with. Or it will be nothing at all.


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