It was a bright, crisp and cold winter morning, the sky so blue and the sun so brilliant that it made the reality of a four-thirty sunset and five o’clock darkness feel like a distant, melancholy daydream. In the kitchen, the girls were speaking in hushed tones, and in the bedroom, I was slowly putting the pieces of the morning together. I was cold because the window was open, and because I had no shirt on. My head hurt; that was from drinking. I couldn’t remember when and how I’d gone to bed. I sat up on the edge of the bed, my headache splitting as I moved, shut the window and looked around the bedroom. I had only been there once before, but it was just as I remembered it. Neatly arranged, fairly spartan, with furniture consisting of bed, dresser, desk and chair. The far wall opposite me had a poster of The Killers, and I remembered wondering how old she was when she got it. The wall to my right had a framed picture of Carla and two of her friends from high school, which I also remembered, because we had talked about who the girls were. Best friends. That was it for wall decor. There were no clothes on the floor; they were all neatly folded and packed away in the dresser.
I found my shirt in the covers, buttoned it up, and left the bedroom, where the hushed tones abruptly stopped. I stood in the entry to the kitchen and looked at the girls. They stared at me from their seats at the table, coffee mugs before them, releasing steam trails into bright daylight.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” Carla asked me. Her eyes were red and it looked like she’d been crying. They both looked like that.
“My head’s killing me. And I’m really thirsty.”
She got up and filled a glass with water from the sink. “Here.” I took the glass and drank the entire thing. “Do you want some more?”
“No, I’m okay.”
“How much do you remember?”
“Well I remember being outside the bar at some point, I guess after I left, and… I guess nothing after that.”
She and the friend exchanged a look. “Here, let’s go sit on the couch. Do you want some coffee?”
“Yeah, thanks. And some advil if you have it.”
“Sure, hold on. Nina, can you get the coffee?”
That was her name. Nina. I remembered meeting her at the bar, across the table. I had been joking with her almost instantly. And she liked Will, too. She laughed easily. She had been drunk but not too drunk, just the right amount. She stood silently and moved to the coffee machine, looking down at the ground, and it struck me that this morning she was more sober than I had been in months. I left the kitchen and sat on the couch in the living room, which contained warm, cozy furniture and a soft, friendly rug that under the intense brightness of the winter morning were only artifacts from a museum of a halcyon past.
“Here,” Carla said as she returned and handed me the advil. “Do you need water?”
“No, I’m okay.” I swallowed the two pills. Nina came and handed me the coffee without speaking and sat in the armchair.
“So you remember leaving the bar. You remember everything that happened in the bar?”
I took a sip of the coffee. Like the furniture, it comforted me with its warmth but it was black and bitter and tasted of reality. “I think so, let me think.” I took another sip. “So I met you there a little after 10 o’clock, I came in – wait, where’s Will? When did I lose him?”
She exchanged a look with Nina. I didn’t like these exchanges. “I’ll tell you, I promise, just go from where you started. You came in with Will.”
“Right, okay, yeah I came in with Will. I came in and we found you guys sitting at a table and we joined you. And we met Nina and I introduced y’all to him.” I looked over at Nina, but she looked down into her coffee. “So then we started talking and drinking.”
“Do you remember what we were drinking?”
“I was on beer. I ordered two pretty quickly. And you guys were on sangria, right?”
“Yeah. And Will?”
“Will always drinks rum and coke. That’s what he got, right?”
“Right.” I took another sip of coffee and in my brain set the night’s beginning aside. It was slightly fuzzy, but generally organized and made sense. I noticed for the first time the ticking of a clock on the wall. I realized I had no idea what time it was, but it felt earlier than I’d usually be awake. My instinct was correct; it was 7:54.
“Okay, so we were drinking, then what?” Carla asked me.
“Right, we were drinking. And then… your friend came in and she saw you, she was a girl with her boyfriend.”
“Right,” she gulped. “That was Veronica. And her boyfriend Dante.”
“Veronica.” Her face came back to me. She was beautiful. And I remember thinking that I had never met a Veronica before. And I remembered feeling that I instantly preferred her to Carla, and it brought shame and guilt, but I didn’t say anything about that. “She came over and said hi and she introduced her boyfriend and you asked if they wanted to join us. And they did, they asked the guys at the table next to us for chairs.”
“Yep, that’s all right.”
“And then we started taking shots, right? Wait, why did we do that?”
“Veronica asked if anyone wanted to do a shot, and you and Will said yes.”
“Did you guys do shots?” I looked to Nina. She met my gaze and shook her head.
“We didn’t, we had already had a lot of sangria,” Carla answered. I felt my head shoot sharp bolts of pain for every shot I had taken. How many had it been? Maybe five. I remember thinking Boy, it’s been a long time since I’ve taken four shots.
“We did a lot, didn’t we?” I asked the girls. Carla nodded. “We got really drunk.” She nodded again. “So then what?”
“You don’t remember anything else?”
“Wait, no. Hold on.” I thought back. Veronica. I put her face back together again, but she was crying and looking at me from behind glass. I thought perhaps I’d dreamed that image. Even then, she was the most beautiful girl I’d seen in a long time. Possibly ever. And she was drunk and glowing and very bubbly and friendly. And then… “Veronica. She was flirting with me. A lot. You guys saw that, right? She touched my hair at one point, and she was leaning in and laughing at everything I was saying and she was really chatty. She was, right?”
“You were flirting with her,” Nina snapped, bringing both mine and Carla’s eyes toward her sharply as if pulled by a string.
“She was flirting with me a lot, though. I remember thinking how strange it was, because her boyfriend was sitting right there. I wouldn’t have been flirting with her if she wasn’t provoking it. Because…” I trailed off. “Because I was on a date with you,” I said to Carla. She nodded and took a drink from her coffee. “I’m sorry,” I said, meaning it. When was the last time I was a huge asshole to a girl? A while. Six months maybe. “I got really drunk I guess, and she was-”
“It’s fine, just keep going,” Carla said.
“Really, I mean I still think you’re-”
“Seriously, don’t worry about it, just, just keep up with what you remember.”
I swallowed hard. I wanted my headache to be gone. I wanted this conversation to take place somewhere else. No, I wanted it not to be taking place at all. I wanted to be far away, waking up in a cabin in the mountains in Tennessee and drinking coffee with sweet French vanilla creamer and reading the newspaper and watching the sun arc up over the ridge and pour light into the dark crevices of the foothills. With Veronica. Oh come on, get back to it man.
“Okay, so, yeah, we were flirting. And I guess you guys were talking to Will a bunch. And that boyfriend, what was his name?”
“Right, he was quiet, he wasn’t drinking.”
“He was driving,” Nina answered again. I looked to her and she looked like she was about to cry again, but she just sniffed and sipped her coffee.
“Yeah, and then, well,” and then it came to me. I looked to the girls for help but they gave me nothing but wearied stares. “And then she said…”
“So who’s up for another shot?” She wants another shot? She’s ridiculous. When’s the last time I saw a girl that small take five shots? Four shots. No, this makes five. Though she is glowing like a Christmas tree. Why is that the simile I always end up on?
“I’m in,” Will says. He’s at the point in his night where each successive drink does nothing but bring him closer to dreamless sleep. I’ve seen him here so many times… is this fun for him? Not remembering anything? I guess he’s still him when he’s blackout. He’s having fun in the moment. That’s what I should be doing. He’s always been good at getting me to enjoy myself.
“JV, how about you?” Veronica asks me. She’s smiling and leaning all over the table looking at me. Fuck she totally is flirting, isn’t she. Well maybe it’s all in my head. Her boyfriend… he’s a scary motherfucker. It’s always these big silent brooding guys with small peppy girls like her. She should be with me. She thinks he’s fun? She thinks he’s a good boyfriend? If anything was right in the world we’d be dating. Hopefully in the alternative universe.
“I’m in,” I say. I do not need this shot. Fuck it, tonight’s been a blast.
“Carla, Nina, you guys wanna join for this last one?” Veronica asks.
“Still good on sangria,” Nina says. “I don’t know how you can do so many, if I take two I’m gone.”
“It’s an acquired skill I suppose. Being in a sorority helped.” Of course she was in a sorority. She throws her hand up and flags our waiter. “Helloooo, Jeff!”
“Helloooo, and what can I get ya?” he asks, smiling. I think he likes our table. We’re drunk but not obnoxious. Our most obnoxious member is Veronica and she’s cute and funny so we’re fine. And he knows he’s gonna get a good tip.
“Oh, I don’t know, me and the boys were thinking about another tequila shot. Or do you suggest something else?”
“Hmmm… well you’ve got the tequila and lime routine down by now. If you wanted to switch it up, well personally I always like Jaeger.”
“Jeff likes Jaeger. Well then, Jaeger it is. Three shots of Jaeger, please!”
“You got it, be right back!” I wonder if there’s any part of him that thinks she should slow down. I bet he realizes the boyfriend, oh what the fuck is his name, he’s the DD. And the four of us seem pretty in control. Yeah, I guess he figures one little hammered girl is safe with five relatively sober friends.
“So wait, Will, continue the story,” Carla says. And she’s enjoying herself quite a bit. Tonight ended up being really fun. We’re gonna hook up, hopefully Will and Nina will hook up, and that makes this date a total home run. Except for that boyfriend… Dante, that’s his name. Ugh, I hate when people keep checking their phone. What’s he gotta keep checking? Does he have a dealer coming by or something? I wonder if he smokes. That’d make him cooler. I could smoke tonight. Oh yeah, we totally did smoke already, didn’t we. Am I still blazed? Is Will blazed? I probably am a little. But man I’m drunk.
“Okay, so where was I? Oh right, so me and JV, we’re just I don’t know, feeling goofy, and we’re on the floor, I guess it’d been a long day-”
“Wait-” Veronica interrupts. “Is this going where I think it is?”
“If you mean like in a homoerotic direction, no,” Will says. Everyone laughs.
“I was gonna say, maybe you guys are a little too close of friends,” Nina says.
“So we’re on the floor, and I’m just pinning JV, you know he’s a weakling, he can’t fight back.”
“It’s true,” I chime in humbly. Veronica laughs and slaps my arm. Physical contact – they always say that’s flirty.
“So he’s just laughing, just laughing his head off as I pin him, and the next thing I know, he’s laughing so hard he can’t breathe and he just starts puking.”
“Eww you puked!” Veronica exclaims. I shrug.
“I don’t know what to say, it happened. Sometimes it just comes out.” The table laughs. Even Dante chuckles. Oh look, here come the shots.
“Three shots of Jaeger, for the madame and gentlemen,” the waiter, Jeff, says. He’s funny, I like him.
“Ready?” Veronica asks. I guess so. Am I ever ready for a shot? I guess I always am. “One, two, three!” Down the hatch, burns, sucks, bitter, tastes like hell, ah shake it off, when does this go away? Water feels nice, just a sec it’ll be gone, breathe, it’s gone. Another shot down.
“Gross,” Veronica says and gulps water. Will looks calm, like he barely tasted it. I envy him.
“I’ll be right back. Bathroom,” I say.
“Don’t fall in!” Veronica calls after me. She’s cute, she’s fun. I like having people like her around. They talk to fill in the silences so you don’t have to. I can be more chill and cool around her. That’s nice. Carla is like me, but maybe I don’t want someone like me. Oh, there’s me in the mirror. How do I look tonight? Pretty typical, not a bad day though. Hair’s cool. This is a good shirt. Too good. I wear it too much. But those girls have never seen it. Yeah, it’s the ‘girls have never seen this shirt’ shirt. Alright, yeah, pretty much as good as I thought I would look. Man, Veronica is really flirting with me. But she’s flirting with the waiter too. But she keeps touching me! She’s drunk. She’s hot though, oh man she’s hot. Stop thinking about her. Oh come on, it’s fine, you’ll be hooking up with Carla soon enough anyway. Wow, I got really fucking hammered tonight. There is 0% chance I finish. I did not need that shot. So then that was the last one. No more man, you’re just on the crest. Stay here, don’t fall over. But maybe that was the over the edge one. Shit, I hope not. No, tough it out. Let’s get back out there.
I walk out of the bathroom and Veronica is right there. She grabs me and pulls me into the women’s room. Then we’re kissing. I know this feeling. This is always the best. She’s new, what’s she doing there? She’s great, she’s warm, wait a minute, we’re kissing?
“Don’t worry don’t worry, he hates me. I hate him.”
“Wait no, why are you dating? Fuck why couldn’t you be broken up? He came with you, he’s here!”
“It’s complicated.” She’s trying to kiss me and it’s so hard to resist it but I feel like there’s more words that have to get said.
“No, wait hold on, this… you and me we can do this, just, like, get my number, and break up with him and then we can be like this and go on a date and talk and hang out.”
“I can’t break up anytime soon, I have to go to his house for Christmas.”
“Ahh,” and she’s kissing me again and trying to get at my belt. “No, hold on, why me? Christ, like, you’re like, so fucking hot, just… no come on come on he’s here and I’m supposed to be on a date with Carla and also I’ll just hate myself tomorrow I know I will.”
“When’s the last time you just let yourself feel the feelings you wanted to feel and didn’t worry about how it would look in the future?” Did she say that, or did my brain say that? It makes sense. I never get to do that. I want all of her clothes off and I want to be as physically close to her as possible and I want to hear her breathing in my ear.
“Okay, just, not in here though, it’s too suspicious, we’ve been gone too long. I’ll go back first and you come in a minute.”
“So where then?”
“I don’t know, uh… have him take you home. And I’ll come over and meet you later.”
“You promise?” Her eyes want me to promise and her freckles and her black hair and her cute grey sweater and her eyes are just perfect. And I’m definitely drunk. And this is the decision I always hate myself for tomorrow. But… it’s so good right now. And she’s so beautiful she’s like…
“I promise really I do I want to fuck you extremely badly but yeah later seriously. Okay I’m gonna go now. Later I promise. And be chill back at the table, stop flirting with me.”
“Oh, is it so obvious?”
“I don’t know, maybe. Probably. Okay, see you out there.” I push through the door of the bathroom. I wonder how long I’ve been gone. Four minutes maybe? Five? How long does going to the bathroom usually- pain. Holy shit my head my head what was it why why what is this?”
“What the fuck are you doing with my girlfriend?” I look up. It’s him and he’s standing over me and my head is killing, what did he do, slam it into the wall? What do I – pain. Did he just kick me? Oh my stomach!
“You get your ass the fuck out of the bar right now,” he says. “Get out or I’ll fucking kill you!”
“I’m gone man, I’m gone just stop I’m gone.” I scurry to my feet. Fuck my head is killing me. I touch it, it’s not wet, no blood. I duck away from him and limp into the bar and try to look normal. Shit why do I have to be drunk like this. I always forget what it feels like, then it comes back and it’s always the same thing and it’s not even that great. I go to the table.
“Will, hey guys. Will, we gotta get going.”
“What, why? You okay?”
“No, I’m not, I’ll explain outside, Will, we gotta get going man. We gotta get the fuck out of here. I’m so sorry girls, really, I was having a great time, it’s a family emergency though. I’m really sorry but we have to get out of here. Will, come on.”
“Are you serious right now? What happened man?” He’s drunk and confused but he’s standing up. The girls look alarmed.
“Is everything okay? Is there anything we can do?” Carla asks, concerned. Fuck my head hurts. At least my stomach feels okay though.
“No, nothing, it’s a weird thing and it’s happening right now and I can’t explain it and I gotta go but I promise I’ll see you again.” Will’s up and he’s pulling his coat on. I grab mine in my hand and I don’t want to take the time to put it on.
“Well, I guess I’ll see you later, sorry about that,” Will says as I pull him toward the door.
“Hope everything’s okay, text me if you need help or anything!” Carla calls as we leave.
I get through the door, looking back over my shoulder for Dante, but he’s not by the bathrooms anymore and I think that he must be in the women’s single stall bathroom with Veronica. Veronica! Wait is he gonna hit her? Is he gonna get violent? Wait I gotta tell someone.
“Okay what the hell’s going on man?” Will asks me once we’re outside in the cold.
“Okay, so real quick, I was in the bathroom making out with Veronica and then I left and Dante was outside and he smashed my head in the wall and told me to get the fuck out of there.”
“Oh you asshole, seriously? Why the fuck did you think that was a good idea?”
“It wasn’t, it still isn’t, but it happened man it happened and now he said he’s gonna kill me.”
“Okay so then we should get out of here, right?”
“Wait though wait, he’s a violent guy, he hurt me and now he’s in the bathroom with her and, jeez man what if he’s hurting her? We gotta tell Carla.”
“Okay so let’s go tell Carla.”
“But then she’ll know what I did and what if they’re just fighting? I mean like verbally, like just arguing?”
“She’s gonna find out anyway man let’s just go back and tell her to go check on them.”
Boy I’m drunker than I thought. The snow on the ground is hazy and shaking, my ideas are far and hard to grasp. And my head, Jesus Christ everytime I try to focus on something it swings back at me like a pendulum. “Shit man, I’m too drunk to know what to do here! What’s the right move here? What do I do?”
“What if we told the bartender,” he says. “To check on the girl’s bathroom. That there might be trouble in there. He’s a big strong guy he’ll be okay.”
“Yeah, wait that’s perfect. That’s the idea. Oh but then Dante will know I told the bartender and he’ll kill me man!”
“He’s gonna kill that girl, man! Dude we gotta act. This is like those moments where you see something bad happening and you can’t think, you just gotta act.”
He’s right, he’s right this is the moment you always read about in the news, how nobody helped. Fuck why do people as drunk as us have to deal with this? “Okay I’ll go tell him, hold on.” I go back into the bar. I look to Carla’s table. They look at me confused. I keep my head down and walk straight to the bar. It’s crowded. I’m trying to get the bartender’s attention. I wanna shout that I don’t have to order a drink, that it’s an emergency, but for some reason I don’t. Carla is next to me.
“JV, you’re back, what’s wrong? What can I do? What’s going on?”
I don’t answer her. Finally the bartender looks at me. “Hey, can you send someone to check on the girl’s bathroom? I think there might be some trouble going on in there.” He nods silently and heads that way. I breathe a sigh of relief and look back to Carla. “I think Dante and Veronica are fighting in there. And I’m worried he might hurt her.”
“Wait, they’re in there together? How do you know? Also, I don’t think he’d do that, he’s a really mellow guy, he’s never hit her.”
“I know they’re in there, I saw him go in after her, he was really mad.”
“Why? He seemed fine at the table.” I’m too drunk for this. “Seriously, what’s going on here? What am I missing? Does this have to do with your emergency? Where’s Will?”
“He’s outside, he, look, I-” The bartender is walking back from the bathroom. He comes back to the bar to talk to me. The anticipation is staggering.
“There’s no one in there, man.”
“What? There’s…” Then Will is next to me and he’s grabbing my shoulder and turning me.
“Dude, they’re in his car. They’re out there in his car in the parking lot.”
“I don’t know, but they’re there.”
“What are they doing?”
“I don’t know, just sitting and talking from what I can tell.”
“Come on.” I turn and walk straight outside. I ignore Carla. I think she’s following me. The air is so cold but I don’t feel it because I’m so drunk and because I’m on a mission. Wait man this is all going too fast. How long has it been since I got out of the bathroom? I should just stop and think about all this. Are any of these decisions smart? Will agreed with me. But he’s drunker than I am. I shouldn’t be acting this fast. Would I do any of this sober? Yeah but that’s the thing- you gotta act fast in situations like these. People stop and think and ponder and then boom the girl gets assaulted or hit or killed and no one acted. And then you read about it and you think ‘oh if I was there I would have acted!’ But hindsight’s 20/20. No, you gotta ride this thing out. You’ve got twenty-three years of living experience, you’ll know what to do. Your instincts are right, even if you’re hammered. Fuck I wish my head didn’t hurt so much though.
There’s the car, there they are sitting in it. They look like they’re just talking, right? Or is he shouting? Oh yeah, she’s crying. For sure, he’s shouting. He’s shouting did he hit her already?
“JV!” It’s Carla. “JV, what are you gonna do?”
“They’re in the car.” I turn to her. “You can help me. Go check on them. What if he’s hitting her? Carla you gotta go check.”
“Okay, okay, just calm down, hold on.” She walks away. Yes, Carla! She’s not that drunk! She’s smart she knows these people she knows what to do why didn’t I consult her earlier? Oh man I suck I’m such an idiot! Okay Carla’s got it now Carla’s got it. I watch her knock on the window. It rolls down. They’re talking. Yes, it’s all fine. I’m fucked with Carla, for sure, but no one is gonna get hurt. I’m not gonna get in trouble. Yes, I fucked up this date, yes I did, but that seems fine now. I’ll take that outcome.
“Hey, Carla’s talking to them?” It’s Will.
“Yeah man, she is she is. It’s gonna be okay.” I turn to him. Boy Will’s drunk. I can see it in his eyes. They’re like projectors running with no film in them, projecting nothing but a blank white screen. None of this is being recorded. Wait, am I like that? Am I gonna forget this? No it’s too much it’s too visceral it’s too real. Oh man why did we smoke before we came out? I’m faded, boy am I faded.
Here comes Carla. She’s walking back. She’s gonna be pissed at me, that’s fine, me and Will are just gonna go back to his place, eat some chips and queso, smoke a bowl and talk about this and laugh and it’s gonna be fine tomorrow. It’s gonna be fine.
“Guys, guys, I think we need to call the police or something, you were right he hit her she’s bleeding.” She looks very serious and sober and alert all of a sudden.
“Oh no, no are you serious? Carla are you serious?”
“Yes I’m serious, I’m gonna go tell the bartender to call the police. Stay here come tell me if he tries to leave.” She’s gone in a flash. And then he’s coming toward me. He’s coming from the car.
“You fucking piece of shit, I’m gonna wreck you!” Run. I start to run. Run man, run. I’m running. I look back. He’s chasing me. I’m faster than him but I’m drunk and he’s not. Run where? Into the bar? What happens there? He’s a bad guy he’s gonna go to prison wait am I gonna get fucking killed by this raging guy right now? Does he have a weapon? He doesn’t need one he’s huge. I loop around the other side of his car. Veronica is inside with her face against the glass staring at me. She’s got tears and her face is red and I can see the blood coming from her nose and- wait did the car door just shut? I stop.
“What the fuck- get out of my car!” Dante yells. Who? Who got in the car? I look through the windshield. Will. Will got in the car. “Get Carla, get help, I’ll get her out of here!” Will shouts from the window as it rolls up. Get Carla? Wait Carla’s in the bar calling the cops, yes, get Carla. Yes, Will, get her out of here. Get her out of here now! Will saved her, we all saved her! Will the hero, yes, get her out of here!
The car starts to back up. Dante is slamming on the side of it. “Get out of my car! Veronica, get out of the car! What the fuck are you doing, get out of the car!” But the car is backed up and a guy can’t stop a machine, not even a big guy like him, and the car is pulling out onto the street. Dante is chasing it. Now, get into the bar, get to Carla, get people who know what to do, oh god why do I have to be this fucking drunk I am way too drunk to deal with this, and wait is this all my fault? No he’s a bad guy, you did the right thing, wait but I didn’t do anything at all! Yes you did you helped. I caused it though. Okay just sort that out later get back in the bar man you’ve got moves to make.
“Will! He took Veronica away. And Dante! Wait what happened, shouldn’t I tell the police? Why aren’t they here?”
Nina was crying and had been for awhile. Carla was fighting back tears but I saw them start to roll slowly, and they reminded me of Veronica’s from the car. “Somebody tell me what happened! Where is Will? Where are those guys?”
“So that’s it then, that’s all you can remember?” Carla asked, sniffling.
“I… I don’t know, for now, yeah. Wait just tell me, what happened where is everyone? Shouldn’t I be at the police?”
“You already talked with the police.” Carla said. “You’re done with them for now, you talked to them for awhile but you were really drunk, you weren’t making much sense. They’re gonna be back later but they let you come home with us to sleep.”
“Oh shit the police, am I in trouble? What did I do? And where’s Will? Is Veronica okay? Where’s Dante?”
They looked at each other for a long time, and I knew that it would be bad news. How bad, it was hard to say. I was in completely uncharted territory, and anything seemed plausible. But there was a thickness in the air, some calm before the storm, that would forever be severed as soon as they told me what happened. I didn’t want it to come. I wanted to live there, in that cozy living room, with that bright winter morning sun streaming through the window, blinding me. It was so warm, it made me feel like a kid again. No responsibilities, no loss of memory, no hangovers, no drunken mistakes. No texts that couldn’t be unsent, no words that couldn’t be unsaid, no girls that couldn’t be unkissed. That world was so far away, yet in the warmth of the winter sunlight, I could grasp it, feel it, understand it again. And I wanted time to freeze right there so that the moment would never be smashed into a million pieces. And then it was.
“Will swerved into another car on the road. They were going fifty. Everyone died.”
And my heart sank. It sank so low and so far, to a familiar resting place at the pitch black bottom of the ocean. The same place it went when I realized I forgot that I had an exam or when my parents caught me drinking. Then I thought about the words Carla had just spoken and it sank to a place I’d never seen it go. Then I thought about the night and the words and the fact that Will was dead and it sank to a place where I knew I’d never get it back. And my role. And what I did. And the whole chain of events. I was drunk and I kissed a girl and then Will and her were dead. A beautiful girl and her parents got a call sometime in the previous five or six hours that she was dead and they would have to put her in the fucking ground. And my best friend that I’d know since we were five, who the day before had been texting me about his idea for a restaurant built into tree-houses, the guy I was so excited to bring on a double date, he was dead. His mom making us sandwiches in the kitchen in elementary school. His sister hugging him at his graduation. They got a phone call. Their boy will never get married, have children, live a life. He died at twenty-three. And then there’s me. Me on a couch with a coffee and a headache.
And that day was bright. The kind of winter morning where the sun is so bright and calcifying and the sky so blue and crisp that you forget that very soon the cold darkness will consume absolutely everything.