This post follows part 1 of The Letter.
“It’s nice here.”
“It brings me a sense of peace. I lost my husband last year, and this is the only place where I feel allowed to be sad anymore.”
“Yeah, I get that.”
“It’s like time goes by and I’m just meant to forget the life we had together. People expect me to move on and let go. It’s just not that easy.”
“I’m sorry, I’m disrupting your time; I’m sure you got here early to have some quiet time to yourself.”
“No, no, I’m sorry. I’m being rude. I’m Carl.”
“Carl. Nice to meet you, Carl.”
“I lost my wife a couple of years ago too, and today I managed to lose my job as well. It seems I’m getting good at losing things.”
“Oh god, that’s awful, I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, well, I saw it coming.”
“Oh, here’s the rest of the group. Better get our seats.”
The group started. Carl could hear the voices talking, but the sounds were muffled, like he was present, but wearing earmuffs. He could see their mouths moving and their expressions changing with the continuing words; sometimes smiling, sometimes solemn, but always with an underlying sadness to their faces. He couldn’t imagine ever moving past being alone. The letter was the only thing he had left.
He felt the familiar feeling of irritation spark inside of him. What was he doing here with these strangers sharing his feelings week in week out? What was the point? It was meant to be helping and yet, a year down the line, now he’d lost his job too. He could hear their voices getting louder, the range of highs and lows becoming more pronounced. He could see the expressions on their faces getting heavier like the weight of their words was dragging their sallow skin down to their knees so it could swim in the bath of their collective tears. With every exhale of breath he could feel his annoyance building. His anger consuming him like the need of a mother to soothe a screaming baby. He had to get out.
He pushed back his chair and jumped to his feet. Without looking anyone in the eye, he stormed to the door and left. The night had come in, and the ground was soaked with the pouring rain. He rushed along the street like he had somewhere to be. It was 6 pm, and commuters were making their way home to their loved ones; heads down, umbrellas up. He made his way to Hideaway Bar on 9th and 27th. No one knew him on this side of town. He stooped to enter the doorway; the older Irish pubs were always cramped and at 6’4 he was accustomed to having to mind his head. He eyed the barman.
“Patron on the rocks, bud.”
“You got it.”
The smell of bleach mixed with stale beer swept up his nose, making him wince. The barman slid the shot across the bar and he downed it.
He downed the next one and ordered a beer. The hard liquor took the edge off his feelings and the smell. Now he needed a long drink. He had to calm down and think. He pulled out the envelope.
How could she leave me? Why? Why? Why? She left when our lives together were just beginning. We were going to be so happy, the three of us. We were going to be a real family. How could she go away and take our future with her?
“Buddy, two more shots. Keep them coming.”