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If I Ever Leave This World Alive
There’s Irish music playing in the background. Imagine this: perfect setting for meeting a girl. It’s a pub and you’re both obviously underage. You’re working up the courage to ask the bartender for a pint. The song is soft, pretty even. “If I ever leave this world alive I thank you for all the things you did in my life.” She sitting at a table with two friends across the room. The friends are pretty but they don’t even come close. “If I ever leave this world alive I’ll come back down and sit beside your feet tonight.” A drunk gets escorted to the door barely able to stand. You got outside for a smoke. You can still hear the music and that makes you happy. It’s a cold night and you could almost swear you saw a rainbow in the smoke. People trying to hail cabs. People bundled up in doorways. People walking, people talking, people enjoying the night like you. You remember a book you once read, or maybe a poem. The guy said, “There’s nothing worse than too late.” So you flick your smoke into the gutter and head in with that in mind. The girl’s gone. Too late after all you suppose. You try and order a beer and to your surprise they don’t card. You’re amazed that she walked out without you seeing her. It must just be that kind of law. You accidentally knock over a glass and everyone looks at you. Murphy’s Law you suppose. Which is funny because the pub is called Murphy’s.
The night passes, songs start and end and you sit drinking. The place is warm. You keep mostly to yourself, nervous about someone asking your age. The guy next to you tries to strike up a conversation. You’re not interested, he seems a bit dull. You’re still thinking about that girl. Dark haired, petite, really small, about 5’1. You can’t seem to get her out of your head. The Rolling Stones are playing now, Sympathy For The Devil. You’re about 6 beers deep and you know you’re going to have to pay off your tab sooner or later. Somehow the magic of earlier is gone. It doesn’t seem like the perfect place to meet a girl anymore. Just like some nondescript pub. You wish it was earlier, wish that you hadn’t gone out for that smoke. It starts to snow outside. Perfect. You’ve got 9 blocks to walk to get home. Well its not so bad, just some light flakes falling down slowly. Another night of going to sleep alone, another beautiful night with no one to share it with. Sometimes its enough to get a little sad. Just a little, understand. But sad nonetheless. There’s not really anywhere else to go but home. So home you, walking. Not enough money for a cab or much else. What a night. The streetlights illuminate the snow flakes.
You’ve walked a few blocks and you’re jacket is starting to get wet. You’re not cold yet because your buzz is keeping you warm. A surprising number of people are out, considering the weather. Seems like there’s always something going on in this part of town on Friday night. You remember back to New Orleans, going out on Bourbon in the middle of the week. It was after the hurricane but the place was still jumping. The pizza was good, the beer was better. You miss it. Miss that feeling you had, that feeling that on a night like that anything was possible. You felt that way earlier tonight and it was a good feeling. You look up and realize you’ve walked another few blocks. You’ll be home in 20 minutes. You pause as the feeling rushes back to your hands and you shiver.
“You really should be wearing something warmer, gloves maybe?”
You look up at the figure bundled up in a blanket sitting on a stoop and it’s her. Maybe it’s not such a bad night after all. Maybe it is that type of night after all.
“I lost them.”’
“That’s too bad. Hey weren’t you at Murphy’s earlier?”
“Yea, I was.”
“They don’t card, f---in' great, isn’t it”
You’re surprised to hear her swear. Up until now she wasn’t real yet, just some girl seen from across the room. Sometimes its nice to hear some good profanity.
“Yep, hey do you live around here?”
“Well Andres, then I guess I do. I’m Anna. Why don’t you come up here and get warm.”
As you climb the steps and snuggle up next to her you realize there’s nowhere you’d rather be in the world. As implausible as it seems you’re still sitting next to her 15 minutes later. At this point everything seems implausible, the whole night. Seeing her, getting served, finding her again.
You wake up in bed, alone. It was a nice dream while it lasted. One of the best you’ve had in a while. You get up and make a BLT, still thinking about it. You’ve got work in half an hour but you’re putting it off. You look in your pocket for a lighter and come up with a crumpled piece of paper. It says ‘Anna, 703-6945’.