Inspired by: Ballad in Plain D
Sadie joined her family in the living room as they watched TV.
“Any plans tonight, Sadie?” Her brother, Cole, asked.
“No, I don’t think so. I’ve seen everyone, I think, everyone who was free at least. I’ll just ride out the next couple of days here.”
“I was going to grab a drink with some people from work if you want to tag along.”
“Yes, you should introduce her to Josh!”
“Mom, chill out.”
“A guy I work with.”
“He’s a chemical engineer! Handsome, charming, single.”
“Ignore her. What do you say?”
“Yeah, sure. Why not?”
The family ate dinner, and Sadie got dressed up to go out.
“Have fun, you two!”
A few minutes later, they arrived at the bar, and a group of Cole’s friends was already there. Cole introduced them all and true to Heather’s word, Josh was very handsome.
It wasn’t Josh who made Sadie’s heart skip a beat, though.
“I’ll be right back. I’m going to order a drink.”
Sadie approached the bar that Juliana was tending.
“Whoa, Sadie Hawkins, it’s you again.”
“Hi, Juliana. I’m so sorry about how I acted yesterday. You know… moms!”
“My mom knows all about you.”
“What can I get you?”
“An old fashioned?”
Drink in hand, Sadie joined Cole’s group. Throughout the evening, she caught herself staring at Juliana and felt Juliana watching her.
“Your brother says you’re a doctor.”
“What do you doctor?”
Josh tried again.
“You aren’t making this easy. What’s your specialty?”
“I don’t have one yet. I’m still absorbing everything before I make a decision.”
Neither spoke for a moment. Juliana watched from the bar.
“I’m a chemical engineer.”
“What chemical do you engineer?”
“Can I see your drink?”
“Give me a shot, I’m trying to impress you.”
“I’m not usually crazy about guys with chemicals having access to my drinks.”
“I swear I’m just going to smell it.”
“It won’t be weird.”
Sadie handed Josh her drink, he smelled it, and it was weird.
“You’re drinking an old fashioned made with my bourbon.”
“I think you could have just said that. That was weird.”
“It was pretty weird. Usually, people don’t fight so hard.”
“Well, it tastes good.”
“I think so. We have a few secrets we’ve developed for the aging process. Twice as smooth in half the time.”
Sadie chugged the rest of her old fashioned and told the party she was going to get another.
“I can’t believe you’re talking to the sniffer,” Juliana said while still laughing.
“Oh, man, is that really his nickname?”
“Yes! He tries this all the time.”
“He never said a brand. Did he at least get it right?”
Juliana laughed so hard she couldn’t even vocalize. She just shook her head “no” while she made Sadie’s drink.
“This is so embarrassing!”
Sadie buried her face in her hands.
“My mom is trying to set me up with or something. I’m in a relationship. I don’t know what they’re doing.”
Juliana finished Sadie’s drink. Her smile had almost completely faded.
“I’m glad you found someone.”
“It’s early days. But I like him.”
“How early? Have you…”
Sadie shook her head no.
“Do you want to?”
Sadie nodded her head, yes.
“Why haven’t you?”
“I have no idea! I’ve slept over at his apartment all weekend.”
“I need to hear everything. You’re not leaving this spot until we’re caught up.”
Sadie sat at the bar for hours, filling Juliana in on what she’s been through since they last saw each other twelve years ago. Periodically Josh came by to restart their conversation, but it never got off the ground.
Cole came by to let Sadie know she blew it, which just caused Sadie and Juliana to burst into laughter. The men slunk out before closing time, and Sadie hadn’t moved.
“It’s closing time, kid. Do you need a ride home?”
“I don’t think anyone wants me coming home like this.”
“I’m sure Josh would disagree.”
They both sniffed glasses imitating Josh’s party trick.
Juliana cleaned up the bar, locked up the money, and got Sadie into her truck.
“Do you really don’t want to go home?”
“This has never been my home.”
“No,” Juliana said softly, “it wasn’t.”
Sadie began falling asleep in the passenger’s seat. Juliana didn’t know what else to do but take Sadie to her house.
Juliana walked Sadie into her living room.
“Shh, we’re going to get caught!” Sadie yelled.
“You’re the one yelling, and we’re adults. We can do what we want.”
“You drank way too much.”
Juliana dropped Sadie off on her couch, and she immediately passed out. Juliana covered her in a blanket, wondering what could have been.