Itís loud in the dark, glass against glass. He lowers the bottle, amber sloshing angry. He looks across the table, where she should be sitting. The emptiness stares back at him as he drains the shot glass. The burn revives him, but only momentarily. It moves down his throat, into his guts, and dissolves, leaving emptiness.
A single bulb, bare and hanging careless from the ceiling, negligent in its duties. He breathes deep, saliva like syrup from the alcohol. The smell of fresh paint fills his nostrils, instigating future memories, burning into his mind history for later.
The music isnít blaring, not yet. Loud, in hopes that it will erase the loneliness, but not blaring. He wishes for quiet. The air is thick with clarity, and plans, and adventure prospects, but it doesnít help.
A noise from the corner, and he glances to the plant there. It doesnít move, but it looks as if it has. He watches it, but it does nothing. He talks to it, slurred ramblings of lost dreams and ignored hopes and missed opportunities. The talkings of a drunk.
Sheíll be back, he tells the plant. Sheíll be back and Iíll still be here and it will seem like change, but it wonít be change.
He pours another drink, and itís loud in the dark, glass against glass.
Tell me what I miss the most, he says, not to the plant anymore, but to the room, to the house, to the world. To anything that will listen and pretend not to. He drinks. I am not an honorable man, am I?
Nothing answers, and he is gladóonce they being answering, things have gone too far bad. He lifts the bottle to pour another drink, but changes his mind halfway through, and spills whiskey on the table.
Her nipples, thatís what. I never agreed to be noble, I never wanted to be honorable.
The room doesnít answer, nor does the house, nor does the world. Nor does anything else. He stands and stumbles, and almost falls. He catches the door frame, but not in time to avoid hitting his head. The blood runs from his forehead down the slant of his nose, and distracts his vision.
He wipes it with the back of his hand, to see the color of his blood on his flesh. Pink, but not like her nipples.
He shames himself into ignoring his thoughts and staggers to the bathroom. He pisses unsteadily and washes his hands, eyes unfocused as the color from his hands washes down the drain.
Itís not remorse, he tells the sink. Not exactly. But you canít hate the dead. Itís uncivilized. And there are too many of them.
Back to the kitchen, with its fresh paint and vain attempts to erase the past. He drops into the chair with a thud and a creak, and the glass on the table rattles. He stares across, into the darkness, and he doesnít know who he sees. Itís her, but which her?
The smile changes, the voice, the cries of pain and pleasure. He doesnít know who he sees. Teeth. He sees teeth, shown either in a smile or a snarl.
There is no release in cheating on a dead woman, he says. If she were here to love, he would be content in his transgressions. But she is gone, and he is left with the memories.
The other awaits, but she is just as much of a ghost. He sees her, in his mind, and pushes her out and focuses on the bottle and pours another drink.
His throat tightens, fighting to swallow, and his stomach objects, but he swallows all the same. When the morning comes, he will find himself in the bathroom, or on the floor, covered in vomit. He will be alone, and he will know that he thought about her.
But he will not remember which her, and he will not remember exact thoughts, and that is enough.