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I'll Start Over, if You'll Hold My Hand
Walking out of that bar, I looked back, away from this girl, strange girl, I would be taking home tonight. If I remembered her name, I’d tell her “Never mind, I’ll just call you a cab.” Instead, I turned back, just for a second, and saw her.
It was like someone had hit me in the face with an encyclopedia. I just walked back into that dimly lit bar, leaving… Whatever her name was, standing unsteady and vapid in the parking lot.
She was sitting on the edge of the group of her friends, laughing as if she had had more than the beer she was sipping. But I knew—from too much unfortunate experience—that she wasn’t drunk; usually, this would make me turn away, thinking you don’t have any chance with her, she’s much too aware of you.
I caught her eye, and without really knowing what I was doing, I smiled and waved. She smiled back, tentatively, though at least she did smile.
“Hi,” I said, sitting down next to her. Her friends, drunk, waggled their eyebrows at her, and turned back to the rest of the group. At least they weren’t the crazy, feminist types, who will think that any casual gesture is an act of sexism.
“Hi,” she said back, and she almost seemed shy.
“I’m Chase.” I stated, and then bumbled on. “You don’t seem to be too smashed, which is sort of refreshing. A sober person in a bar, who would have thought? Designated driver?” I nodded towards her friends. She smirked.
“Yeah, like always. I’m the only one who’s capable of having good, clean fun, without boozing up like them.” She just shrugged, as if she’d never solve the conundrum. “I’m Christene, by the way.” She took her hand off the condensation-covered bottle, looked at the water droplets there for a brief second, and wiped that hand on her jeans. Shaking her now proffered hand, I observed that it was cold, but probably not entirely from the bottle.
“You know what? Let’s get out of here. I’ll just call them a cab.” She was already dialing by the time my head started spinning.
She hung up, told her friends she was leaving, and we left.
“Your car or mine?” She asked.
“Um… I just walked here, I live real close,” I said, while pointing in the general direction of my house.
“Oh, okay. Well how about we just go back there, then?” She sounded unsure.
“No, it’s a mess there,” I lied. My house is always spotless. “Why don’t we just go grab some coffee? There’s a little café around the corner.” I never drank coffee, preferred stronger beverages, such as whiskey, obviously.
Looking intrigued, she said “even better,” and led me to her car.
We stayed at the coffee house for a long time, never running out of things to talk about, hardly touching our drinks. Strangely enough, though I’d only known her… God, had it only been a few hours? Well, I had never felt closer to anyone. I told her things about me that I hadn’t known myself, until that night.
That I was too insecure to go anywhere that wasn’t filled with obvious drunkards.
That I hid behind alcohol.
That I didn’t think I was worth dating or going past one night stands.
She listened with unreadable eyes. I worried. She held my hand and said:
“Chase, I want to see you tomorrow. We can go for a walk by the river, because you’re worth seeing again in broad daylight.” Her eyes softened. “I have a feeling that you’re worth so much more than that.” Her eyes… I never had any doubt about her sincerity.
She dropped me off at home, and I went to sleep with a smile on my face that made me forget all of the nights I was kept awake by a stranger in my bed, made me forget all of the disappointments I had given and gone through.
My life was starting over.