I always thought mascara leaking down a tearing face was a cliche made for TV and movies. Until I had B in my face, her mouth twisted despite herself, crying to tell me that “I’m so lonely, L.”

Instead of citrus and summer, alcohol was her perfume when she stepped through the door. Her skin wasn’t flushed, and her eyes appeared normal, as far as I could tell. But she was wasted.

At first, she wanted to dance. “Boring, L!” she chided, earlier in the night when she was still happy, still searching for more wine to run the night on.

I glugged my glass, stealing wine away from hers.

“More?” she proposed with a heavy clink of when bottle meets glass rim and neither shatters. “How ’bout some more?”

She had returned home right as I was about to head off to bed. My new mission now was to get her into hers, or at least on the couch.

Bounding back and forth, from the white plastic chair she said she found online, to the purple beanbags she said she had shipped from Indonesia, her footsteps drew a dance on the floor.

The music hadn’t sent the neighbours over, and so louder we sang: she, the lyrics, and me, her song.

I forget how we ended back at the white chairs, but we did, and that’s where she started talking.

All I could do was to look deeper into her eyes and promise that I heard her. But I couldn’t help with her loneliness.

In a movie, I would have carried her into bed and stroked her hair like she was my child bruised by thunder.

In a movie, we would have trashed the living room worse, if only that the morning after would shame us into a lesson learned.

In a movie, our pasts would have already been exposed to the audience in overblown flashbacks, and “I’m so lonely” would be a joke of an understatement, the laugh of the century.

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