[Shorts][Bartender Stories] Dancers for the Dead

TW: Death, Grief

Grieving the loss of a loved one is hard for anyone. Even if I’m just watching and sharing grief, it can get tough.

Mocktails help me get over these times. So I went to visit my favourite bartender. He stood quietly by as I downed two of his concoctions in a row. I didn’t ask if there was alcohol, but something burned its way nicely down my throat, bringing tears to my eyes.

At least that must be the reason for my wet cheeks. I have no good reason to cry. I don’t have enough reasons to grieve.

While I nursed my third almost certainly alcohol free mocktail, my bartender quietly took up a tale.

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[Shorts] I Am The King

He sits and stares out the window. Surveying his domain. Watching his territory. Ensuring the safety of his subjects.


He yawns and changes position. Scratches his belly. Watching is so boring yet necessary…

Something enters his domain. He just knows it, he can’t explain how, but something that shouldn’t be there is there. He looks around for his servant, but they’re not where they should be. Neither at beck, nor at call.

Huff. I’ll punish them later. For now, it’s time to put things right in my kingdom. He stretches. A little activity is never a bad thing. Quietly, he moves to the door, and exits.

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[Shorts][Bartender Stories] Top Spin

Today was tiring. I’m not addicted to mocktails, but in my tiredness, I find myself trudging up to the doorstep of my now favourite bar. Nodding to the toad on its bench (and getting a croak in return), I push open the door, and seat myself at the bar counter. My bartender takes a look at me, and quietly puts together my favourite mocktail without any mockery. In fact, he takes so much mockery out that it’s practically alcoholic.

While I nurse my second glass, he regales me with yet another tale.

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[Shorts][Bartender Stories] Who’s the Strongest?

Part of my job includes taking photos, and one time I had to muck about with a ship in a tub. However I mucked it, it still insisted on being a ship full of water, heading down.

After beating back yet another bunny that had inexplicably poked its head around my door to look at what I was doing, I threw in the towel. I got on my hrududu and made my way to my now favourite pub for my mocktail fix.

Not for the stories of course. Though my regular bartender had one ready for me.

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[Shorts][Bartender Stories] The Song of a Fairy

Twas later in the day, and weird creatures were flooping and flopping around the sundials and what not. Probably meant that it would rain, so I made my way down to the now somewhat familiar pub for my mocktail fix.

The same barman was there, and I perched on an empty barstool, looking at him expectantly as he polished the bartop. He smiled and quietly prepared the same mocktail as he’d done before.

Then he spoke.

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[Shorts] Coffee and Croissant

706pm. It’s always that time of the day that he appears. However much we try to take note of his arrival, we’ll always end up being distracted just at that moment. We’ve had a ceiling light blow, even though it was a LED bulb. A mug I was clearing from a table suddenly cracked all over but still held its shape – but I could feel it crumbling if I pressed too hard. It took us all 10 minutes of held breaths before the cup reached a garbage bin safely. And then we realised it was already past 706pm, and he was standing at the counter, waiting quietly and patiently for us.

Not even a smirk detected.

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[Short] Seedlings

Awareness dawns for the little seed as it sits in its cocoon. It doesn’t know it’s a seed. It just knows it has life, and it stretches as far as its pod allows. I want to grow, it says and feels and thinks. I want to grow. And so it stretches, and pulls and pushes, and wriggles but nothing happens. Wait, says the cocoon, the skein that wraps tightly around the seed. Wait, and see. 

The seed ignores the skein. It wriggles. It pushes. It is life, and it is full of life. Life can’t wait for a skein’s wisdom.

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[Short] The Price of Freedom

He was young when he finally tasted freedom. And it was bad. Really bad.

He’d been at an amusement park when it happened. An amusement park is a wonderful place, and when you’re a young boy with lots of energy, it’s a place of mystery and wonder. All those dark alleys and tents that your parents pull you past, instead of letting you in to soak in all the different joys that mystery has to offer. He wanted to taste them, and he knew, just knew, that it would be wonderful and fun. Parents are there for a reason – to take away fun. Therefore, by extension, anything that his parents denied him must be fun.

He never told them that though, for fear of being punished. Parents, you know.

So when the roving amusement park came to town again, and they were queuing for a ride, he waited for them to be distracted with his sister’s incessant questions, and then he ran. He ran.

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