Short Story // Waiting on Pilar
My teeth are yellow. They usually look whiter, but are yellow in this mirror. Even though it’s one of those mirrors that makes you appear better looking than really you are. The white of the sun cream makes me look a bit clownish, and I rub my eyes with tiredness. The sun cream stings. But I still rub them. I keep rubbing them. The cold water from the sink doesn’t help much either. Just time, and beer, and time. Time passing. And Spanish TV is headache inducing. It took me years to figure out what they were saying. Now I have no interest. Talk show kingpins bullshit on about earth-shaking scandals about celebrities. Left and right leaning stations. Their candidates talk from newsrooms. From pulpits of their own creations. Perfectly preened, perfectly turned out. Their retorts almost like one upmanship. It seems like an awful lot of energy. A lot of energy over nothing. And songs in Spanish from the eighties and nineties I’ve never heard of. I wonder to myself, what I was doing the day they made that video. I would have been a kid in school, or out playing football. Maybe I was in mass on a Sunday or watching a film.
I open a beer. It’s cold. It goes down well. If all beers went down so well I’d drink all day, which I do anyway. But I’d drink more. More than this for sure. The Spanish always ask why does everybody drink warm beer in Ireland. And I have no answer for them. I sometimes try to defend us, but I wonder why myself. I’d imagine the answer is laziness, but I never tell them that. Don’t show them any weakness and all that. I flick through songs on my phone on youtube. And before I know it, the night stand by my bed is full of half empty beer cans. They still have weight to them.I always leave a bit in the bottom of the can. Tastes horrible for some reason. I switch the air conditioning on and off. It’s either too warm or too cold. I always seem to get a sore throat but it’s worth it. Worth it to avoid the heat. That forty degree July heat. I open the window. It looks out onto a shaded courtyard. The building must be eight floors high. I look up and catch a glimpse of the baby blue Madrid sky.
I hear echoes dart upwards. Bouncing off the beige brick walls, into the open expanse of Madrid nothingness, and away. Like everything else. Gone. Two floors below me a South American woman is doing housework. I’m glad I’m not her, not now anyway. I only have one beer left. I open it and get back to my phone. It buzzes and it’s Pilar. She says she can’t meet, something about her kids. She did that last year as well, and it’s been literally a year and a half since we did it. I send her a pissed off text. She doesn’t reply. Her body seems more like that of a twenty year old than a woman of forty. It must be the diet over here. I wondered was she with me for some kind of rebelliousness. But what did it matter? I was lucky to get her. All those times I was with her. They faded each year, to less and less. Until they looked like they would eventually disappear into nothingness. Ghosted or ignored. Maybe just plain forgotten. Gone. Like everything in the end. I suppose.
The beer is finished, I mull about getting up. Fuck hanging around here sober. The door weighs a tonne closing it. The stairs wind around and around, and there’s an old elevator that fits only two people. It’s wooden doors and steel cage run up through the building. On the ground floor the girl on the desk gives me a friendly nod. I’m out and blasted by a world of heat. My body enveloped in roaring sunlight, and car fumes.
The shop is empty and an Asian guy serves me. He watches a hyperactive Chinese soap opera, on an old small square TV. I look at it. Uninterested. Yet at the same time enthralled. I take my beers and go back to the hotel. The door weighs a tonne opening it and I put back on the air conditioning. I rub my eyes with tiredness. Cheap Ryanair flights at six in the morning are not good for your health. I take a beer from the white plastic bag.I sit down and open it up. There’s nothing on TV. There never is but I watch it anyway.
I wait on a text from Pilar. But it never comes.
Declan Geraghty is a writer and poet from Dublin. He’s had short stories appear in Dublin in the Coming Times, edited by Roddy Doyle, and From the Plough to the Stars by Culture Matters. He’s had poetry published in the UK in the Brown Envelope Book by Alan Morrison. Declan will also feature in the upcoming poetry collection Cry of the Poor edited by Fran Lock. He is currently studying Creative writing and Media Production whilst working on his first novel and short story collection.
Of the short story featured here, Declan states:
‘The motivation behind the story, Waiting for Pilar, is addiction and hope. I think hope keeps people alive no matter what they're going through. People strive for a state of ecstasy through alcohol, but with addiction to alcohol it's as if you're chasing that sensation but it's only fleeting. You end up spending more time chasing it than you do feeling it and it becomes an idea more than a reality as time passes. The irony is you rarely feel ecstasy and just go around life feeling either depressed, anxious or hungover.’