To New Beginnings: A Short Story

Howard Chai
4 min readAug 27, 2016
A new beginning can take many forms.

“So, last question: why are you here?”

“Well, I met my boyfriend, sorry, ex-boyfriend, Simon, on TheSea, and although it didn’t work out, I thought my overall experience with the app was great, I appreciate the goal of the app, and I want to help it grow.”

“Fantastic. You seem like just the kind of person we’re looking for. We think it’s very important to have people on our team that started off as users. Welcome to the team, Mindy.”

“Thank you so much”, Mindy said as she stood up to shake her interviewer’s hand, “I can’t wait to get started.”

On the other side of town, Max, with a peaceful smile on his face, walks down the stairs of his new apartment building and sets out to explore the city he would now be calling his home: Chicago. After years of fantasizing about picking up his life and moving to Chicago, he was finally here.

Mindy sits in her red MINI Cooper, forehead pressed against the wheel between her hands, her fingers wrapped around the steering wheel. Outside of the car, a muffled, cheerful, scream is heard.

Max stood next to the Giordano’s food truck he had only seen pictures of, waiting for the pizza everybody on the internet said was worth the wait. He looked around at all the people walking by, imagining where each of them were going, wondering whether or not they were happy. His imagination quickly drowned out the sounds of the metropolis: the honking cars, the ringing bicycles, the humming engine of cars, and the arrhythmic chatter of people talking.

“Here you go, sir.”

“Thank you”, he said, snapping out of his daze to find a piece of pepperoni pizza in front of him.

He took a bite, nodded to himself, and thanked the internet.

At a small apartment across town, Mindy stands in front of her single-door closet. She was meeting her friend later that night to celebrate, and couldn’t decide what to wear.

“Fuck it.”

She grabbed her purse, and strutted out of her apartment in the black heels, light grey pencil skirt, and white blouse she had been wearing all day.

Max sits at a bar, drink in hand, elbows on the counter, tired after a day of walking around downtown Chicago. He had seen the lively hole-in-the-wall bar on his way home, and decided that if there was ever going to be a bar he was going to be a regular at, this was probably going it.

He turned around on his stool and surveyed the room. It was quite the crowd. He saw a group of college-age guys a few seats down peaking and pointing at a group of young women sitting in a booth across the room. In the booth behind them, a couple sat side-by-side, deep in what appeared to be intimate conversation. He turned back around to finish his drink and looked at the bartender. Shaved head. Looked like he keeps his bar in check. Seems like a decent guy.

“You’ll probably be seeing more of me around here”, he said as he took out his wallet.

“You new the area?” the bartender asked.

“Yup.”

“Where you from?”

“Vancouver.”

“Well, welcome to Chicago”, the bartender said without looking away from the cocktail he was concocting.

“Thanks”, Max said as he shoved his wallet back into his pocket, “see you around.”

Max stood up.

“Hope you like freezing-cold weather.”

Max looked over at the girl sitting one seat over.

“I actually do like the cold”, Max said with a chuckle, “it makes me feel alert and alive.”

“That must be the Canadian in you talking, because it just makes me feel numb and want to die”, the girl said without turning around.

Max, who was getting ready to leave, sat back down in his seat.

“You’re probably right”, Max said with a smile.

The girl turned around and smiled.

“I’m Max.”

“Mindy.”

The two of them looked at each other, smiled, and turned back towards the bar.

“Get this man another drink, Luke”, Mindy said to the bartender.

“Sure thing, Mindy”, said Luke as he refilled Max’s glass.

“Are we drinking to something?” Max asked, looking back at Mindy.

“Well I just got out of a long relationship, I’m starting a new job in a couple days, and you just moved to a new, much colder, city, so take your pick.”

“How about new beginnings?”

“I like it”, Mindy said.

The two of them, still facing forward, raised their drinks.

“To new beginnings”, Mindy said, smiling as she finished her drink.

“It’s almost time, guys”, Luke the bartender said.

In sync, they both turned to look at the TV hanging on the wall by the door broadcasting live from downtown Chicago. A decorative ball was slowly making it’s way up one of Chicago’s skyscrapers, and the crowd below began cheering.

“TEN!”

“NINE!”

Everybody in the bar joined in.

“EIGHT!”

“SEVEN!”

Max looked over at Mindy.

“SIX!”

“FIVE!”

Mindy glanced at Max through the corner of her eye.

“FOUR!”

“THREE!”

They both smiled.

“TWO!”

“ONE!”

--

--

Howard Chai

I strive towards a career that ends up leaving me somewhere between Howard Beck and Howard Beale.