HLS: Terry and Michael

Terry stood near the bar, behind other dark bodies waiting for their fix.  If ever there were a time to drink, this was it.  When Terry was younger she drank on a near-nightly basis, just because that’s what you did, especially living in the middle of fucking nowhere.  Eighteen, falling over onto the dirty floors of a frat bar, laughing hysterically in the arms of an equally slammed girlfriend.  Nineteen, trying every vodka on the bottom row of the liquor store shelves (plastic bottle required).  Twenty, nursing her very own bottle of Boon’s Farm Strawberry Wine, the liquor equivalent of soda pop, possessing the ability to get you drunk only by sheer volume of consumption and not actual alcohol content.  Her tastes had been refined by the time she reached the legal drinking age, preferring a sensible Capital Morgan’s on the rocks to anything else, shots if she were feeling particularly miserable.  As Terry got older and the ravages of a hangover began to effect her life in rather unappealing ways, she ratcheted down her drinking quite a bit.  Now, Terry found that she enjoyed a few cocktails at birthday parties, weddings, and work functions.  And, most importantly, after getting totally and utterly destroyed by a boy.

She tapped the two gentlemen in front of her on the shoulder, impatient to obliterate any memory of what had happened to her over the course of the last twenty-four hours.  It had only been a year since her heart had been broken badly and it was happening again.  It was her fault; she let it happen.  Michael’s stupid voice persisted in the back of her head –  “I’m sorry” and “I don’t want” playing over again on loop until she could think of nothing else but his phrases of choice, each of them just different words telling her, “I don’t love you.”

“Shot of Patron,” she commanded to the bartender, compulsively picking at the splintered wooden bar with a fingernail while she waited.  She watched him pour from a cold, fat bottle, liquid running over the rim of the shot glass – a dangerously generous pour.  He placed it in front of her on a polite paper napkin accompanied by the saddest looking lime wedge she had ever seen.  Even in the darkened, cavernous lightening of this shitty bar, Terry noticed its sallow green skin, either picked prematurely or left to nearly rot in their refrigerator.  She didn’t care; she didn’t care about anything at the moment with the exception of getting terrifically fucking hammered.

Terry picked up the small glass with her long fingers, the liquor obliged to slosh over the rim and onto her skin.  She knocked it back before any more could escape, biting into her sad little lime wedge and tasting nothing but the bitter sting of alcohol on her tongue.

Her friends were waiting on the dance floor.  These were people who would never intentionally hurt her and around them she felt safe.  Anyone she had ever dated had ended up hurting her and as she threw her fists in the air and felt her legs light and moving underneath her, Terry wondered why she wanted to date anyone in the first place.  She felt the music pulse and wondered what the appeal was and how she was continually able to put the past aside and try again.  The fairy tale didn’t exist, she knew it, but she kept trying.  This perhaps made her stupid by definition.

She had been doing considerably well all evening, stuffing her overwhelming sadness down deep in the vain hope she might be able to bury it there forever.  The tequila cursed through her in a casual way and she felt her limbs loosen and forgive normal structural obligations.  Terry felt the motion of her hips and the passing of her long, thick hair in front of her face.  She felt the buzz and the music and the bodies bumping into her unapologetically.  But there, in the middle of a song with no lyrics and a bass line that stuttered and shook, she felt her heart being ripped from her chest, strings snapping hard and silent, until she felt separated from it entirely, left with a big, gaping hole somewhere under her Chambray shirt.  She knew this feeling well enough and dreaded its ramifications – the doubt and insecurities, the emptiness, the daunting thought of eventually rebuilding.  She pulled her hair in front of her face, hoping that behind its curtain she could perhaps transport herself to a few months before she had ever met Michael.

When the waves of hurt came with greater frequency and intensity, Terry knew she wouldn’t be able to hold it together long enough to get home.  The pain sneaked up on her, crashing down heavy on her shoulders and seizing her chest with its inescapable grip – an emotional stroke, paralyzing and impossible.

Terry left without telling anyone, leaving her friends to dance in their own drunken happiness.  It was cold outside and as Terry held her hand up to hail a cab, she debated stepping in front of the next approaching car just to feel something other than how fucking sad she was.  She was so tired of the psychotic yo-yo of it all.  Loving someone and then trying desperately to hate them when they didn’t want you anymore.  Sitting across from someone and pretending to give a shit about where they were born or if their parents were divorced.  Memorizing what kind of candy they liked as a child and filling their Christmas stockings with endless bunches of it.  Terry wanted to physically to break something – an arm, a hand, anything.  She was just sick of nursing her own stupid heart.

Terry got into the cab, the air sickeningly warm.  The driver didn’t understand where her apartment was.  On the radio someone with a refined British accent talked about some horror in Libya.  She felt herself perspire under her wool pea coat, overcome with acute sensation of being suffocated.  “Ah!” the driver said, “The south side.  Okay, I go.”  Terry was thankful he had figured it out in time.  She didn’t have enough energy in her to summon the amount of aggression and irritation usually required to get cabs to drive over the Williamsburg Bridge on a Saturday night.  She stared out the window, feeling tears well up uncontrollably, then streaming down her face in steady flows while they unburied the last hour, the last week, the last month.


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