Reading time: 2 min 48 sec.
“Let me fill that up for you, ” said the happy face behind the bar, tilting the warped bottle into the huddled man’s glass. Each drop of bitter, tangy sweet. Dipping and swirling with small bubbles forming around the edges.
Life was hard and sallow, with days to call your own, and day you never conquer.
That’s what came to his mind, the fresh rays of summer, battling off the cold gnashing winter biting into the bone. What a glacial thought, he contemplated, as the liquor in his glass finally settled into a serene ovoid lake of tawny nectar.
It was all back again, after every two-bit rush, came the soothing, monotones grind of the usual. No matter how many glasses he could gulp in one sitting, or how many warm bodies in his bed. It was all the same after a while.
The same old, good old, same old.
As if disappointment was the most loyal friend. And the zest in life was but a jilting mistress, that only promises but never keeps what she sais.
He finished the last cap of his withering night and commenced his voyage beyond that cozy mahogany door. The wind welcomed him with a sucker charge to the chest; he had to cover himself for what he called his way home.
On the way, he heard the soft scuff of hard leather on the soft dusty concrete, soft taps complimenting the waving howls of the night.
Not a soul in sight, only the specters he could conjure before his eyes. How he could forget what was in front of him, yet his head floated to a time of far and past. When he was happy.
No. Now he can remember. He was content, not happy, happy was for the suckers. Content was for the winners. No one triumphs over the usual. You could wish and pray all you want, but the reality was that no one answers your solemn pleads, because no All-Mighty could get what you want. Better speak of easy things, like smiling back to your wife without faking it, or actually enjoying a game with your child. That’s what we should wish for.
The man struggled to contain his tears, it was far late than he’d expected. The way home was usually short and rough, but this time, he wished if he could get there faster.
Then the old faces came back to him, the tears, the sighs, the turned shoulders, the now absent souls in his life. For what did he trade them for? What was the craved prize he gave everything for? And by everything, he thought, was everything he truly loved.
He dipped back to the same marble-hard conclusion, there was no victory in the life he had. No one short-changed this man. Not even the devil could make up such a travesty. It was only him, and just his sore soul was able to commit such evil, unto himself and others.
Nevertheless, his sins cost his beloved a fast scalding price, but his sentence was for the long haul. It defined him, another morsel of remiss wisdom brought by a lashing afterthought, we are defined by our regrets.
The man clicked open the lock, and pushed the door into his sullen realm, the same white blankets, the ashy dust crawling into his resigned senses, and saw the same hollow figures dancing by the spell of memory. They sang, with closed lips, the melody vaunting his undoing.
The man pulled back his hair and tumbled to his creaking chair, his tears had no more salt, all dry, stale…beyond bitter.
Then he saw her, the one to claim his soul. By his armchair she sat, sweet to the eyes, wicked to the heart. He wondered why she still smiled back facing him, even after everything he’d done to her.
But then he remembered, that he’d deserved that smile, the same cloying emotion had the same gravity mountain pounding on his pulverized self.
It was part of the deal. You drink, laugh and enjoy the best of your years. And never think about it at the time.
Eventually, Regret would come, and like a caring mother, she would never leave your side.