by Carrie Close
Sitting at the bar with your aunt on a Friday night reminds you how desperate you are for friends your own age. So you drink your tequila and ginger soda cocktail a little bit faster than you normally would. You have to remind yourself to keep smiling, so she doesn’t think you’re having a miserable time.
When your aunt’s ex-boyfriend walks into the bar with a couple of friends, you and your aunt go over to say hello. By now you’re on your second drink and the world is blurry, yet focused. You blame feeling more drunk than you reasonably should on your new diet of bananas and vegetables. The bar is getting louder and warmer, but you see nothing beyond the four people sitting at the table in front of you.
You get so animated telling a story to one of the friends of your aunt’s ex—the one sitting closest to you, who is pudgy and has a beard, who you think is probably around thirty-five, and who definitely wants to fuck you—that you fall backwards out of your chair, hitting your head on the table behind you, but you’re so drunk that you barely feel it, and you get right back up again and laugh at yourself for being so basic. Nothing out of the ordinary here, ladies and gentleman, just another drunk white girl.
You continue to tell the story, the one you started before you fell, about the self-study astrologist back in Boulder who offered to trade you an astrology reading for a massage. You emphasize how much this offended you, because as a licensed massage therapist, you have an actual skill.
When your aunt, and her ex-boyfriend, and his friends are all ready to leave you insist on staying, even though you know you shouldn’t. After they’ve gone you go up to the bar and order another tequila with ginger soda. You start up a conversation with the guy to your right who is also ordering a drink, or maybe he’s just closing his tab. He tells you his name, but you forget it almost immediately. He has black hair down past his ears like Adam Driver in The Last Jedi. You exchange stories about the time you both spent in Colorado and he tells you about his job making snowboards up at the loaf.
He says he has to work in the morning, but offers to walk you back to your apartment, which you’ve already told him is just around the corner and up the street. You agree to let him, even though you aren’t ready to go home yet. It’s cold outside, but the alcohol has made you too numb to feel it. It would be dark, but the street lamps shine bright downtown. In a moment you’re standing in front of the door to your building with this guy whose name you can’t remember, and you’re not sure how you got there so quickly.
You invite him to come up stairs but he says he really has to go. You try to convince him, beg him, to come up just for a moment—which you’ll hate yourself for when you’re sober—because you can’t bear to face your empty apartment alone. When he turns you down for the second time, or maybe it’s the third, you try to pretend like the rejection doesn’t sting, but you know he knows it does, because even when’re sober you’re not very good at pretending.
Isolated in your apartment, with the baby blue kitchen and lavender bedroom—colors you picked out yourself—your head spins so bad the thought of lying down makes you nauseous. So you check your face in the mirror, the long green one you got from your best friend when she was moving out of her dorm room and couldn’t fit it in her car, before you head back out into the night.
It feels colder now as you half walk half run down the hill back into town, anxious to not be alone with yourself. In your haste you slip on a patch of ice and land hard on your right knee, but this you don’t really feel either. The rest of the night starts to break down into time elapsed fragments, like the footage from a camera that only takes pictures every ten seconds. You find yourself in the only bar in town still open this late, but you don’t remember walking down the carpeted flight of stairs to get to this room that smells like beer and sweat, crowded with other inebriated bodies.
Drunk, lonely you searches the room for a familiar face, and finds one in the distant corner, to the left of the bar. Your sister’s ex-boyfriend’s younger brother who was a year ahead of you in high school. The guy you sat next to in a class about Shakespeare, who never seemed to like you very much, but you walk right over to him anyway.
You lean up against an arcade game machine and talk about things you won’t remember in the morning. When the lights come on and everyone starts to leave, he walks you home and you don’t even have to ask him to come in with you.
Carrie Close was born and raised in central Maine, where she is currently attending the University of Maine at Farmington for Creative Writing and French. After graduating she hopes to work as a teacher’s assistant at Le Mans University in France, before returning to the states to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing. She desperately wants a puppy, but life is cruel. She has previously been published in KYSO Flash and The Halcyone Literary Review.
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