“I still remember what it was like before. You know… before the event. It was nice then. Really nice. Remember the parks? Tons of people. Families. Kids. I probably found it annoying before. I was a little shit back then.
I remember a lot, but I think what I remember most is her face.
Yeah. I remember her.”
Alone at the bar front, the man stared into the bottom of his glass, looking for the happiness that its previous tenant promised.
“None this time, guess I’ll take another.”
He held up his glass, but there was no one there to take it. In fact, there was no one in the bar. No one anywhere. Not one person left. Not even her. Shaking his head and shaking the thoughts out of his mind, he reached over the bar to a full bottle of cheap scotch. It tasted like rubbing alcohol, sure, but it had to be the finest rubbing alcohol in town.
Shaky from the last few glasses, he managed to dribble some of the bronze memory duller onto the table.
The bottle was placed back in its home and the man stood, making his way from the uncomfortably steely stool to the equally uncomfortable couch at the other end of the bar. Stumbling from one end to the other knocked over some furniture and brought him some giggles. The happy sound was foreign to him and it was almost immediately unnerving.
The man sank into the crunchy recesses of the couch and was glad to find that his glass retained most of its liquid from his journey. By bringing the glass to his lips, the memories slowly began to fade back in. Kisses. Hugs. Laughter. Whispers. Tears. Screaming. Slapping. Friendship. Loss.
He pulled the drink away and held it in the air, toasting himself.
“And that’s why I need you.”
Down the hatch the drink went and further into the back of his head went his memories.
Minutes later, the man fell asleep.
“It kind of always hurts. Like a shallow aching sinkhole sitting right in the center of my chest. I don’t know. I can’t remember the last time I was really truly alone. Then in one fell swoop… bam. Don’t worry though. I’m doing great. Falling asleep drunk in some shithole outside the house? You always said I was good at coping.”
“Where did you go?”
“Why is this happening?”
She just stood there, looking back at him. Her features were a bit lost on him, but he knew she was smiling. A happy but worried smile. Same way she looked the last time he saw her.
“Are you ever going to speak during one of these sessions? Or am I doomed to sitting alone, even in my dreams.”
Taking a few steps forward, she placed a hand on his shoulder. The man tried to focus in on her face. To remember the rest of her, along with her smile, but his drink was did its job and nothing came.
Hanging his head in defeat, the man wept. Tears rolled down his cheeks and burned at his skin, like acid. The pain was unbearable. His face began to deteriorate, cracks in his skin growing deeper as each tear droplet slid down his already broken face. His broken soul. He didn’t bother to wipe them away. He knew it was a dream, but he wished it was reality. Once he found himself unrecognizable, he knew he was headed back to his dreary reality. But before he slipped away, he gave her one last look.
“Don’t worry. Everything is alright.”
And with that, she was gone.
The man woke up with a start and he found himself rolling off the couch. His glass of scotch shattered against the wooden floor beside him and the drink puddled at his feet. Hitting the ground didn’t hurt nearly as much as realizing he was back in this world. Alone. Again.
Just like the pool of scotch at his feet, the drying tears from his “all too real” dream were a reminder of his desperation. Of his pain. Of being broken. The man would continue to be broken for the remainder of the day, but what awaited him the next day would put him back on track towards some kind of sanity.
For now, the man tucked his legs under his bottom, absorbed the cold comfort of the wooden barfloor, and tried at anything to get back to his dream. To get back to her.