The Without

There isn’t much worth remembering in this world, and only a few days even come close. We drank whiskey from the bottle and spoke about Spain, even though I never had the pleasure. Tiff talked about the fear of walking down the streets of Barcelona as a woman, and it frightened an already cowardly person. Col loved travel and travel stories. He talked about the drugs and the beach and the bar that a friend of a friend owned, which he lived above for a while. He drank and smoked, and we drank and smoked. Who wouldn’t remember that night so fondly?

Tiff danced in the moonlight, and acted like she didn’t. You get enough yeast-shit into a depressed personality and you will work wonders for your ego.

I wondered if I loved her, a sentence I often write and think about. The truth was I loved anybody that could love me: Amy, and Emily, and Liz, and Sian. They gave me a chance, and I gave them a reason not to.

The bottle was gone before we realised we were too. I left and ran to Rhys’s house, a party was beginning and I needed it. I often imagine a sinking feeling when I drink, like I am being sucked down into some mud with a loud squelch; mud that ran grey rather than brown from all the prodding and stomping and clutter that killed the surface.

As I ran, I became aware of the beast following me along the Gailey Road. It growled at me on the tar road and I hid in a bush to escape the golden glare. The beast pulled over and let out a couple: Susan Andrews and T.P Conner. They weren’t in love with each other yet, but they would realise it at the same time, a few weeks from now, in the soft candle light as they waited out the floods in Toowong. She was from here and he was a visitor, but then he stayed.

I knew I was a fool as I watched the cab pull away from those whose love didn’t exist yet. I laughed and sprang from the bushes as only the young can, and ran to the party with reinvigorated interest. If I was paranoid it was because I felt entitled to be liked.

I paused at the stairs; two women were fleeing the party. They laughed at my obvious sweatiness and foolish drunken grin. The tinniness of their jests lacked meanness; I couldn’t help but project empathy. They looked like they knew. While I ran up the stairs Col and Tiff waltzed under the cool night sky, imagining a song that would never be. It lived for a moment in their experience, sputtering out prematurely before gaining a sense of what it would have been.

Tiff panicked, she thought she was lost, but she was just drunk like Col and I were. She missed her ex-boyfriend, who was in Berlin falling in love with another, and her unknowable psychic distress was the reason for our visit.

The cloying mist of inebriation slipped across her eyes and the street became a shrouded mystery. The house was no longer hers, and she was as lost as she felt. As was I.

The mist found me too, talking to Flynn and Angus on a wooden balcony. My body rebelled against the poison I had forced into it. I leaned over the railing and let it escape the way it came in. The truth was, I didn’t love her, even though I wrote this story for her. I tried to bottle my life, but found it flat and tasteless. I didn’t love her, but I loved that night.

Tiff and I weren’t in love with each other yet, but we would come to realise it at the same time, a couple of decades from now. I will die, and she might see it in the paper, if she looks. She would cry, not even knowing why, and maybe I will watch her. She is from here, but I stayed.