Chris spotted his usual stool at his favorite bar, the Drop Stop, and took a seat. Gordon, the bartender, and one of Chris' close friends, walked over to him as he was cleaning a bar glass with a hand towel.
"Chris! Right on time. The usual?" Gordon said in a semi-upbeat tone."Yeah..." Chris trailed off. Gordon grabbed a drinking glass and two tall bottles of liquid. "You sound kind of down. Long day?" "Yep...."
Chris hunched over the counter and looked around the bar scene. The lights were dim. The entire color scheme for the bar were a mix and match of darkened cool colors leading to the bar counter being black marble trimmed with gold and a giant mirror behind the bartender reflecting the long line of bottles and glasses. The speakers in the top corners of the small space were playing smooth jazz at a low volume. Chris had seen someone walk out before he made it inside, so he guessed that it had been an abnormally slow night so far.
"Taaaaalk to me Chris, what's got you all buttsore?" Gordon said as he poured both bottles into the drinking glass. "It's just.....humans. How can people be so stupid? So uncaring? So Oblivious?! How can people just walk by without even checking to see if someone laying facedown on the sidewalk is alive or not? I can't believe those bastards....." Chris said as he was gritting his teeth. "Oh, you helped him right?" "Of course i did!" "Well, thats a big block of Karma that you keep all to yourself. Good for you my dude. One Screwdriver extra strength served up" Gordon slid the now full drinking glass towards Chris.
Chris took a slow sip from his glass and anticipated the alcohol to effect him. The bar door opened to his right, but Chris ignored it and took another eager sip from his glass. Gordon picked up another glass and began to wipe it to give the impression that he was busy. "Welcome to the Drop.....Whoa....." Gordon paused. The new guest took a seat relatively close to Chris. "I hate being me..." He said quietly as he took a third sip. "Can i have a sangria, please?" The customer next to him spoke softly. It was a disticntive feminine voice. That sounds like.....no way.... Chris straightened up his posture and examined the person next to him. To his surprise, It was Annabel, his ex-lover from the very distant past.
A wave of emotions washed over Chris at that point. He and Annabel had parted on particularly bad terms. Their history of 8 months were comparatively short to their 5 year break up. Chris couldn't decide whether he should completely chew her out, embrace her tightly, or go about this time as if she had never walked through the bar's door. He thought about how much he loved her. He thought about holding her naked in his arms. He thought about when they were making plans of getting married. He thought about the entire 5 years that they avoided eachother, and the guilt and anxiety he suffered through each day that she wasnt around.
"umm.....Hello? Do i know you?"
Chris felt discouraged and relieved that she didnt recognize him.
"Yeah. It's me, Chris"
"Oh, Hey Chris...."
It was no surprise that she didnt sound enthusiastic about seeing him. A sudden encounter with an ex from 5 years past wasnt exactly supposed to brighten your day. Chris examined her in the brief seconds he had before his reply was expected. Her hair was alot longer than previously and dyed black. Her trademark glasses were gone, most likely wearing clear contacts, as her eyes were still bright blue. Her skin was a tad darker than before. She probably got a tan.
"Sangria, served up."
Gordon slid the drink to Annabel. Chris had all but forgotten that there was a 3rd person in the room together with them. He telepathically thanked him, though, for his sudden intervention, as it had bought him a precious extra 3 seconds and a small window of opportunity to what he was most curious about.....Her left hand. Tanned just as her face, her wrist was still small and fragile looking, but most importantly, her hand bore no rings as she grabbed her glass.
"How have you been these past 5 years?" Chris sent out the first attack in his imaginary battle of wit with his ex.
"Its been alright. What about yourself? You look so much older now." She replied quickly and sipped her drink.
"I've been great actually. Got a whole lot of time to focus on this and that. And yeah, i decided to cut my hair a bit shorter around that time."
Chris was being vague on purpose. He wanted to bait Annabel into revealing more information about those blank 5 years.
"That's good for you. How's your paintings? I remember them..." She trailed off again as she took another sip from her glass.
Great! She referenced back to when they were dating. The conversation was moving right with his plans. But sadly, Chris hadn't worked on any of his paintings since they separated.
"Oh yeah they're coming out great! I'm looking for a gallery to display them now actually!"
A bold faced lie. Chris worked a small office job that paid for his living costs and barely gave him any spending money.
"That's amazing!" Annabel said as she flipped her hair from the side of her face.
Chris put the glass to his lips and drank the rest of his drink in one frenzied gulp. A subtle hint of body language? Could after all these years she had finally showed hints of renewing interest in him? There was a warm feeling developing in Chris' chest that he couldnt identify as either the alcohol or love.
"Thank you. Have you gotten any luck with modeling?" Chris asked with confidence. Or the alcohol was making him brave.
"Yes actually. My boyfriend is a photographer, so thats working out really well. We just did a photoshoot, and hes trying to pull some strings to get my pictures in a magazine. It might not be super well known, but i'll be out there on the market." Annabel said with delight.
Chris' heart dropped. Boyfriend? That single word echoed throughout the bar, drowning out all sounds and all thoughts. Annabel has a new boyfriend. She sounds happy. It was clear to Chris now that the warm feeling in his chest was just the drink taking effect. It's her life, right? Chris should feel happy for her. But he hated it. He hated it with every fiber of his being. He wanted to rip her and her pathetic boyfriend apart.
"Oh, Thats great!" Chris struggled to sound upbeat.
"About?" Chris responded quicker than normal.
"What?" Annabel asked confused.
"Oh, sorry.....thought you said something...." Chris replied sheepishly. Pathetic. He wished so hard to hear her apologize that he believed that he heard her say it when it was only his own thoughts.
"Oh...No...well, i have to get going now. Me and Noel have a date planned in about a half hour and i have to go get ready." Annabel finished off her drink and sat the money on the bar countertop. "It was nice seeing you again Chris. You should really keep in touch more often. Take care of yourself, okay?"she said solemnly.
As Annabel was walking to the door and waving goodbye to Gordon and Chris, He was frozen in his stool thinking about what action to take as she was walking out the door. Time was moving slowly as he thought out every variable and every possibility. He needed to talk to her more. Deep down inside, no matter how the past had affected them, he wanted to reconcile with her, for his sake and sanity.
Annabel closed the door behind her. Chris came to the dreadful conclusion that he shouted only in his mind. "Wow......You okay there, Champ?" Gordon put the glass down and rested his elbow on the countertop in front of Chris.
"Yeah.....i'm totally fine. Theres nothing wrong with me. Nooo.....It's her. All her problems. I feel bad for her. Yep. I've been fine all these years. She's the one with the horrible life since i left. You don't have to worry about me. You really should be worrying about her...." Chris' voice was wavering and tears came to his eyes. Gordon sighed and patted his close friend on the back. "It's alright Chris.....I'm here for you...." Gordon whispered in attempt to comfort him. Chris rested his head in his arms and began to sob, his cries echoing throughout the lonely bar that he visited daily for 5 years.