Here I Am, Here You Are

Can’t remember what happened last time? Read the first parts of the story here:

One: Parking in the Rain
Two: A Doorway
Three: The Party

At the end of voting on part 3 there was a tie. The choices were:

She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and started to sing. (36%)
She took a deep breath and said, “I’d like to thank you all for coming tonight.” (36%)
She took a deep breath and said, “All right everybody be cool. This is a robbery.” (28%)

So, I’ve taken the liberty of writing two stories based on the top two choices. Your decision is to decide which way to go…

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She took a deep breath and said, “I’d like to thank you all for coming tonight.”

He looked down at the damp coat and hat in his hands and his first thought was, “I’m glad I didn’t give her my change.”

“Some of you will know me,” she said. “Although I hope not too many of you. I’ve spent most of my life trying to stay out of the public eye.”

The girl spoke quietly, but with a clear voice.

“Tonight, as I was walking here, I stopped to eat a sandwich in a doorway out of the rain. And a stranger stopped and invited me to a party. This party, actually.”

The woman beside him turned to him and smiled. “I can’t believe she’s here,” she said. “Can you believe it?”

He felt panic starting to build below his ribs.

“To be honest,” the girl went on. “I wasn’t going to come tonight. I wasn’t in a party mood. You would have all come anyway, and you’d have donated anyway. But it’s not every day that you get invited to your own party by a stranger in a red car. So here I am.

“This charity is so very very important and I urge you all to be as generous as you are able. Not just as generous as you think you’re able. What is all this stuff but stuff? You don’t need it. But these people do. Give all you really can.

“Thank you.”

There was some polite applause, the music started up again and the party resumed. He went to ask the woman next to him who the girl was, but she had already moved over to the podium, where a crowd was gathering.

And as he watched the people flocking about the girl her he suddenly felt old and tired. He wanted very much to be at home, in bed, watching some mindless television. He took one more look around the club and walked out.

With his hands in his trouser pockets, he mooched down St Martins Lane. Well, so much for adventures he thought. Best to not even try.

But as he drew near to his car, he heard footsteps behind him.

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She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and started to sing.

He looked down at the damp coat and hat in his hands and his first thought was, “I’m glad I didn’t give her my change.”

She sang in a language he didn’t know but which reminded him of the few Catholic masses he’d been to. He felt panic begin to build in his belly. This wasn’t some religious thing, was it? He realised he could no longer remember the name of the charity. He could be abducted by these people into their weird cult and he wouldn’t even know how it had happened.

He looked round at the crowd; everyone was waiting for something. He hoped that it wasn’t the Rapture. Steam was rising off the coat in his hands and fogging up his glasses and he realised that the crowd was now very close around him, far too close. They were pushing their way towards the front, bit by bit, note by note. The crush was closing in on him.

“I’m terribly sorry,” he murmured and started to walk slowly backwards through the crowd. “Sorry. Would you mind… sorry…”

He made his way to the bar and leaned against it. He wasn’t sure why he felt so strange. He looked over at the stage and saw that the crowd was starting to sing along.

“So here you are, my friend,” said the bartender, pushing a tall glass of red and orange frothy liquid towards him. “Looks like you need one of these.”

“I can’t,” he said, waving at the drink. “I’m driving.”

“Don’t worry, it’s a virgin. Like in heaven,” said the bartender, and smiled.

Henry looked at him, looked at the curious drink, looked at the steaming coat in his hands and at the awe-struck crowd.

“What’s the name of this charity?” he asked the bartender.

“Charity?” The bartender laughed. “First time I’ve heard it called that. Although it is a collection, now that you mention it. Here, take the drink. On the home.”

He took one more look at the girl on the stage and just at that moment she looked directly at him. He looked away, got up and hurried out the door.

With his hands in his trouser pockets, he mooched down St Martins Lane. Who would ever want adventures? he thought. Best to stay at home.

But as he drew near to his car, he heard footsteps behind him.

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Wondering where the second story is? Scroll back up to the top and click on “2. So Here You Are”

Before I ask you to vote, you may have been wondering where I’ve been the past few weeks. There we were, half way through You May Choose Your Own Adventure and boom! I just disappeared. Did you notice? I’d like to have a really exciting reason, but it’s just one of those things, really. Too many stories, too much going on and I needed a break. A lame excuse, but there you go! But I’m back again and, with this week’s two stories, I’m only really one story behind 🙂

As always, thanks for reading. And now to the voting!

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Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.

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