Copyright is held by the author.
I LOOK across the room and see he is chatting up some young thing in a tight skirt and large hoop earrings. I would bet my next paychecque she wears vanilla-scented musk and that her lip gloss is cherry flavoured. She seductively slides one long leg against the other and my inner diva glares at her cheap Payless shoes.
He stands up to go to the bar and I drop my eyes pretending to examine the menu. The words start to blur and I blink, telling myself that it is just my imagination that I can detect the lingering citrus of his favourite cologne. I continue to stare at a blob of congealed gravy on the marred wooden surface of the table until I feel it is safe to raise my head. Rejecting the notion of food, I order another white wine even though my head is spinning and my stomach is queasy. The waitress saunters off and from the transparent look of pity she is throwing my way, I know my heart could not be more exposed than if it were beating outside of my chest for all to see.
His back is to me so I am free to examine him at my leisure. The pale blue shirt that I bought for him pulls slightly through the shoulders, outlining his upper arms. I notice his hair has gotten longer and just touches his collar before curling slightly. I clench my hands in an effort to reject any memory of the feel of its softness and the warmth of the skin beneath. I know how this man likes to be touched.
I make my way to the ladies room and stare at my reflection in the mirror. Other than a slight green cast caused by the miserable light bulbs in this dump I look unchanged, and feel disappointed that I bear no outer form of disfigurement. I wear my invisible grief and slight alcohol buzz well. I take one final glimpse and try smiling. Finally, I see some evidence of ugly.
When I return, their empty beer bottles and vacant chairs mock me and my mind goes to a dark place as it registers that this sick self-inflicted torment is over for tonight. A sense of self preservation kicks in and I force myself to sit and have one more drink before leaving. I know that someone is chatting next to me, but all I can hear is the rush of blood in my ears. Hysteria bubbles up and I feel like screaming and throwing myself down onto the stained carpet, but instead I flirt with the guy sitting across from me.
Someone once told me “That handsome stranger will cause you heartbreak.” I remember laughing and downing the last of my warm beer in a show of bravado.
Too late my friend I think bitterly. I am already broken. I am sitting here whole on the outside while shattered pieces of me float and tunnel their way into me as a constant reminder of my stupidity.
Why is she here?
She is studying the menu again.
Her hair is spilling forward covering most of her face and I itch to gently pull it back and thread my fingers through it. I remember the spot just below her ear and how she loved being kissed there.
I look over again and she is staring at me or should I say at the girl sitting beside me. Her disdainful glare is obvious, so I move closer to Kristie, or is it Christine and pretend to be interested in her incessant chatter. What am I doing?
My gut is on fire and I down the last of my beer. My date giggles and holds up her empty glass so I head to the bar for refills.
I pass her table and I can see her head is still down. A part of me wishes she would do us both a favour and just leave. Another part wishes she would save me by seeing through this bullshit.
She means nothing to me, you still have my heart.
She is not at the table when I turn around. I relax even though there is a strange weight in the centre of my chest. With some clarity, I realize that stupidity really does not go down very well with beer.