“Some wine, some wine, she’ll never decline some wine. She sees her ship is sinking so she’s drinking all the time.”
Things just didn’t go as planned, she told me, her face stained with tears. I knew she was talking about me- I was never part of the plan. She was naked and crying- something that would’ve turned me on but I wanted to be there for her. It just wasn’t in your cards, baby. I thought this was comforting. Confront reality like a stoic- always have a love of fate. The stars brought us together, baby- your life crushed by divorce, my eternal adolescence- if that isn’t a love story, what is?
She swore she didn’t drink at work, but she called this her downward spiral, so I always wondered. She’d get nervous when it was closing time at the liquor store and she was running out of wine. By three in the morning, she’d tell me she loved me.
I dismissed this as drunk talk. I knew she’d never remember. It felt vapid. This wasn’t love, this was mind-blowing chemistry, code that girls on dating sites use for “hot sex”- her face would blush with orgasm. This was a momentary connection so deep that the coalescence of energy between us felt tangible. Even if it were only temporary, the reality of it carried a gravity so strong it held us to the bed. And even if she were only a year older than me, she was tuned into a frequency that I couldn’t yet understand.
We were together because her husband left her. She had “daddy issues,” he was twenty years older. You’d think that would buy loyalty but not this time. When I wasn’t with her, she’d get drunk and watch her wedding video. You end up with people because their trajectory matches your own. Her line going down the graph to the left met with mine going up to the right. We are not parallel lines- we intersect. I was good enough to meet a recently divorced, alcoholic lawyer bent on self-destruction.
In my “unemployed and laughing about it” phase- a designation sadly not available on dating app profiles- my options were wide open. Women love the unemployed asshole. Everything in hell is the opposite of what you think it should be. If you want to get laid, quit your job and message thirty women at 2 a.m.- you’ll be surprised at what you find.
I liked Abigail. She was cute and Irish- dark hair and large breasts. Vulnerable and she didn’t bother to hide it. Men like vulnerability because it reinforces their identity as masculine. No one wants a strong woman. I romanticize broken women to make sense of my own choices. Their failures bring comfort to my own. We are the same- trying to make due in a toxic world. Broken women make for better stories, anyway. Years later, you can have a blog where you share these stories as a way to craft a narrative about your own life. You need this because these stories are all you have.
She’d say, “it’s an escape from mistakes that we make,” with a smile before finishing her glass. She was talking about me again. Maybe Abigail was my crazy summer fling– where we’d wander the streets of her neighborhood at midnight and make-out under the stars, laughing at anyone who didn’t get the joke- but I was something different to her. I was part of her downward spiral.
“Oh Billy, if and only if…” she’d say with regret. Lawyers tell jokes rooted in symbolic logic- a class we’d both taken in college. If and only if because it was never meant to be- it was doomed from the beginning. We were on borrowed time- the eye of the storm before our lines on the graph separated for good. Our trajectories were never destiny.
She’d get drunk and tell me she loved me because she understood that love didn’t exist outside of momentary glimpses and flashes. When you’re sold love as a verbal contract, you’ll have learned your lesson by the fire sale. You can marry your high school sweetheart and never know the difference or meet a vampire and get taken over the coals. In a cold world, people take what they can get and move on. People are flawed, people are selfish. He wasn’t the man she thought she was marrying- he turned out to be something different. He sucked her blood until there was nothing left and then disappeared into the night. He left her dead inside.
But during these moments, I existed as her salvation and she loved me for it. This was love without expectation- love without narrative. We didn’t need to pretend that it was something more than it was. Love is a precious moment where the energy in the room is so urgent that it can’t help but be labeled. If you think love is anything more, I’ll meet you at the fire sale.
She’d get drunk and tell me to cum inside her. I never would- which was only the right answer depending on your perspective. Days later, she’d have her kitchen table lined with over-the-counter pregnancy tests. I couldn’t tell if she was disappointed by the results. It just wasn’t in our cards, baby.
Every summer has to end even if you don’t want to let it go. The end of August, lying naked in her bed- we never could escape its gravitational pull. She gets a phone call and excuses herself. Twenty minutes later, she’s crying in the kitchen. It’s the guy she’s seeing when she isn’t with me. He’s on his way over to kick my ass. She’s sorry, she tells me. Downward spiral, I say. We share a smile. I give her a hug.
I’d never hear from her again.