Sweet as Wine
On May 7, 2014, A previously unknown species of dinosaur, the Qianzhousaurus Sinensis, AKA "Pinocchio Rex," is unearthed in China. Billboards number one song is Happy by Pharrell Williams. The number one box office hit is The Amazing Spiderman 2. And the man who taught me how to dream, walks into my life. I sit on the ground, in front of a blazing fire, as my friend Amanda hands me a glass tumbler filled three fingers deep, with an amber colored liquid, and two cubes of ice. I gladly take a long swallow. I feel the ice cubes clink against my teeth as the sweet liquid dances over my tongue yet burns the back of my throat. "MM I love me some honey whiskey" I slur as, I push aside the empty bottle of wine lying on the grass next to me. She smiles.
In the back of my head, I wonder if she is trying to gauge my mood. There are a lot of ways it can turn out when I drink this much. I could be the funny, crazy Leila that everyone knows and loves, or I could go to my dark place. I always feel embarrassed the next morning, after I go to my dark place. "Where's Tom?" She asks. She does not really want to ask, I can tell, but she can't help but satiate her curiosity. I roll my eyes "He is in the house, where else?" I try to get up, but quickly realize that it is not a good idea. "I am not sure which one of the ten million things that I do that pisses him off, I did, but it was one of them. I am too damn drunk to be walking on eggshells tonight and to be quite honest; I am about over it."
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Amanda's brother in law, Sam, walk toward us. Behind him trails someone whom I have never met. At first glance, I notice he is wearing overalls with no shirt underneath. Next, I see his full beard. I stare just a moment too long. I HATE beards, but damn, he was actually pulling the hot country boy look off, to a TEE. I shake my head and laugh to myself. I can't help but think; you are not dead, girl you can look…just don't touch. Sam sits down, and I hand him the bottle of whiskey. He takes a sip and hands it to his friend who takes a couple of long swallows. "Leila this is Jax. Jax this is Leila. She is an empath. She can read people's emotions." He says this with a grin on his face. He knows that his friend will never believe him. Jax, of course, laughs, and says "Okay, man…whatever."
Usually, this kind of attention would embarrass me, but I am drunk, and craving any sort of attention I can get. I stand up and look straight into his eyes "He is not joking, put your hands out." He gives me a strange look, but he obliges me. I put my hand over his, and immediately we both pull our hands back. I feel electricity. It is quite literally a shocking moment. We both laugh it off, and he puts his hand back into place. I step back and look at him for a moment, and shudder, "what in the world do you have to be so sad about?" He snatches his hands away and looks strangely at me.
"Hey, let's go inside, and play poker. Do you think Tom will smoke a joint with us?" Sam asks. "I would love to go inside, and at least he will try to keep his temper in check if people are over. You have to go in and ask him though… I just can't face him alone right now" I plead. They walk away, and I hear Sam say "Don't even think about it man, she has been married for 15 years, and once you meet him you will get it. He is dangerous." I ask Amanda if she wants to play. She intends to stay by the fire; she tells me to go ahead. So, I lay in the grass looking at the stars until I hear footsteps coming toward me. I look up into warm chocolate colored eyes. "Sam told me to come get you, and let you know It's Texas Holdem time." I clap my hands together and squeal like a child. He smiles and reaches out his hand. As I grasp his hand to stand, it feels like the entire world, goes silent. The wind stills, voices hush, the birds even stop singing their song in honor of this magical moment.
As we walk in, we discuss music. "Have you heard Seether's new song words as weapon?" I ask as we approach the door. "No, I don't think I have," he says as he opens the door and allows me to enter first. "Thank you, Wow I am going to have to play it for you, I am sure you are going to love it." I say as I walk in front of him into my "home." "Oh, god what is Misses Peggy Hill trying to convince you of, now? Don't listen to anything she says, she is drunk, and thinks she knows everything." This comes from my husband. I let the jab slide, after all, we have people over, and the kids are at a friend's house! I roll my eyes and walk to the fridge. "does anyone want a beer before we start playing?" I say as "I do" chimes from all three voices in the living room. I grab four Heinekens and walk toward the game table.
As I walk in, I notice Tom making a big production of moving his gun from the game table to the end table. I think of all the nights since I started sleeping on the couch. The gun cocking and uncocking, as he points it at me, while I pretend to sleep. For some reason the sound makes me think of tokens being put into a game. Or an hourglass as it is being flipped over for the last time. I pass out the beers and take my seat.
We start to play. I love poker. Poker relaxes me. It is something I am good at. People think that the game is played with the cards, but it is actually played with the people. How well can they read each other? Are they slow playing? Do they have something? Are they bluffing? I find myself smiling. It is a nice feeling. It is a soothing feeling. Like old pajamas that were put away and forgotten, and finally found again.
The game suddenly slows to a crawl. We keep waiting for the same person. Each and every round. Tom. He is on the phone. Chatting on Facebook. After the fifth round, I yell "Who Are you talking too? It's your turn!" He smirks at me and shows me a picture of a cute redhead and says "She thinks we used to know each other. We are just having a little chat".
"Okay great! Fine, can you just try to pay attention to the game too?" I snap.
Before we even know what is going on, he stands up and pushes the table across the room. The table flips on its side, and the sound of broken glass echo's around the room, as our nostrils fill with the aroma of hops and barley. We try to avoid stepping in the puddles of beer. He storms off down the hallway as Sam hollers after him "where are you going?" He looks at me and sneers "I am going to bed because my wife is being a fucking bitch."
In an instant, I feel my whole body relax, in a way that I have never relaxed. Suddenly a thought occurs to me. I realize at that moment, I have forever changed. For some reason two lines from Katy Perry's song, Roar, fill my head: You held me down, but I got up, already brushing off the dust. I look at my new friend, and my old friend and smile. "Are you Okay?" Jax asks. "In fact, I have never felt better. Let's go for a walk. I think things are going to be different from now on." I say as I spin around in a circle, arms stretched, reaching for the stars. Who says all goodbyes have to be sad? Some are long earned, and as sweet as wine.
© 2017 Lisa Chronister