Flash Fiction #12

Kyle set down her beer so that she could politely clap for the last performer. The guy had all the markings of a midlife crisis and a recent divorce – overly expensive guitar, a soul patch, and an ill-advised straw trilby on his head. His cover of “Somebody That I Used to Know” had been technically okay – his voice and playing were fine, but she loathed the song. She could just see the hours he spent practicing in his apartment, thinking about the wife who kicked him out of the house.

“Next up, we have Xavier Vasquez,” the bartender/MC for the open mic night announced after the man left the stage.

She gave her friend a little nudge and smiled. “Go on up and show them how it’s done.”

“You should come up with me,” he said, returning the smile.

“No one should be subjected to my singing.”

Xavier laughed, and then took his guitar up to the stage to scattered applause – the loudest being Kyle. Over the years, she had seen his performances move up from attempts to learn “Stairway to Heaven,” to performing at college shows with their friends, and then playing shows around LA either alone or with groups. Kyle loved music, but she had never quite gotten the hang of playing it. The two of them became friends after they both turned up in their freshman year English class wearing the same Smiths t-shirt.

“Thank you,” Xavier said, adjusting the mic stand and then taking a seat on the stool behind it. “I’d like to dedicate this to my best friend.”

She recognized the opening bars immediately as “There is a Light That Never Goes Out,” and that smile grew even wider. Xavier kept his dark eyes on her as he went through the song they both knew by heart. He did this before during performances, but tonight it felt… different. Perhaps the shift had been happening gradually and she never quite realized it until now. They had been friends for so long that being together was second nature. When she had heard that Xavier was leaving Los Angeles for good, she had been happy for him but it felt like the wind had been knocked out of her. Even her last breakup hadn’t hurt as much as the idea of Xavier not being close to her anymore. So, when he had asked her to come with him, she didn’t hesitate in saying yes.

Oh my god, I’m in love with him.

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