I have a game I play from time to time. The idea is simple: Focus on a few people outside of earshot and role-play their lives in the moment. Tonight a wayward couple managed to find seats at the tables directly across from the bar. The waitress arrived and took their order, and I began.
“A margarita for my wife, and tequila for me.”
They both gave hearty smiles to the waitress, then she left. The woman darted her eyes to her husband. With a satisfied grin he surveyed the room.
“What made you think I wanted a margarita, Al?”
“Everyone here is having a good time except for you.”
“And why Tequila? You don’t think the scotch was enough?”
Alan caught me in my observation. My eyes darted away. He said, “I don’t.”
“You knew we were going to a bar. Why would you feel the need to drink before?”
Alan dusted a crumb off the table. “Because I can.”
“You’re not the same person.”
Alan, this time, was silent.
Alan folded his hands and stared up at the ceiling. It was blank.
“Have you given up?” Sandra said.
Alan met her eyes and glared. “On what?”
The waitress returned in time to step in between the two. Their frustration hung for a second before they began their facade. The waitress smiled and handed them their respective drinks.
“Thank you so much!” they said in near unison.
The waitress gave a smile and left the couple, restored to their true expressions. Alan grabbed his drink. Sandra clung her gaze on Alan.
“Why are we here Alan?”
“Live a little.”
“Alan, I can’t handle much more of this.”
Alan pushed her drink toward her. “Drink up, babe.”
The words echoed in my head. I laughed and reached for another sip of my own. In my own daze, I captured one last glimpse of the couple, smiling, hand-in-hand across the table. I laughed and took one final sip, kicking the glass back far enough to let the rim rest on my forehead. It fell to the counter with little effort. The empty glass clang, and the bartender approached.
“Another tequila please.”
“I don’t love you anymore. Goodbye.”
The man overheard this statement alone on a park bench watching two wispy figures through the winter fog. He saw the two figures part moments after the statement. One figure faded in the distance while the other approached a park bench closer to the man. The figure was a boy. The man moved to the newly occupied bench. He sat next to the boy. Must’ve been 19 years old. He sat with his hands cradling his face. The man kept his silence in anticipation for the boy to notice him, but his patience faded.
“You’ll always miss her,” the man said abruptly.
The boy let his face peek from the side of his hands to lesson the muffle of his response.
“I love her, I really do,” he said.
“I know you do.”
The boy slowly wiped his face with his hand from top to bottom. He looked into the distance without meeting eyes with the man. “This is where we met.”
“It should stay that way.”
Gazing across the courtyard, the man started again, “You know I met someone here a while back. She’s really the only reason I still come here.”
The boy, already losing interest, placed his hands in his pockets and tilted his head back to face sky.
The man continued, “She was incredible. Long blonde hair, just the right amount of freckles on each cheek, a tiny gap between her two front teeth.”
The boy crinkled his eyebrows, and his eyes slowly trailed onto the man.
“It was the middle of spring, and she wore the most beautiful beige floral print sundress.”
“And a flower in her hair to top it all off,” the boy whispered in unison with the man.
“What type of flower?”
“Daisy for sure.”
At this point the boy was fully facing the man, staring intently at the side of his head.
“Anyways kid, things didn’t go well.”
“Just a disconnect. Temporary.”
“You’re waiting for her?”
“When you know it’s love, you have to trust yourself.”
He paused. “Never lose your head, kid.”
The man checked his watch. He stood from his seat. And together they began their trek through the snow-covered park. They walked side by side, leaving one single trail of footprints in the snow behind them.