Excerpted from 'Two' by Natasha Shields that first appeared in The Aleph Review, Vol. 2 (2018).
A swarm of blondes chatter incessantly; platinum, bleach strawberry and the works.
Yes, you can hear Michael's loud bellow too. He's just laughing. I don't know why he finds my indulgences so amusing. My indulgences are too frequent to be the highlight of the month, much less the year.
More urgent than before.
Sweeping up the broken glass, the bartender is clearly enjoying my show, I know. I hope I keep the tips coming, because nothing says sympathy like a difficult customer.
But look at the Kappa girls too! I'm not the only difficult customer here. They're downing their mimosas in a wild—their best disciplinary strategy yet. Who's to judge?
Maya Richard Menly!
Every Saturday, Maya Richard Menly decorates the floor in mustard yellows and stench, falling over bar stools and putting her black laces to display. And if she's lucky, she'll be dragging a man with her too.
As always on cue, the first song of the evening is performed in the bartender's soft baritone: a one-word encore titled 'Menly' itself.
And they they have the audacity to ask me why I don't response when called. Well, she's practically a musical! Do you see all the Alexanders reacting to Hamilton? No, they don't. Because not every Alexander is an Alexander Hamilton. But I, Maya Richard Menly, am a full-fledged, three-act Wes Anderson musical, if he ever directed one. Because it can be hard to recognise your own name sometimes, especially when you're too busy disassociating for the third time this week.
But now she is awake.
She is cognisant.
She is listening.
Natasha Shields is an avid lover of Rupi Kaur, chai tea latte, avocados, kale and fedoras. When she's not busy emulating hipsters, she is a music producer, and a writer in the city of Kim Kardashians. 'Two' is her second short story.
Artwork from 'Stories That Should Never Have Been Told' by Sara Imran. She says, "My work draws from our concept of fairytales and the history behind them. Unknown to many, these seemingly innocent tales that are the grain of many childhoods carry ominous dark undercurrents. My visuals are often precociously mature young girls that are cast in charming, albeit disturbing, narratives." Sara's work has been displayed at the Satchi Gallery, amongst others. She graduated from the NCA, Lahore, is currently Adult Learning Facilitator at the Royal Academy of the Arts. Published in The Aleph Review courtesy Ejaz Art Gallery.