A Corner Booth and Mug of Beer This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 7, 2012
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I feel I must start on a solemn note. This is not for the sake of the story but for the sake of my own well being. I found her on the floor. The sun shone on her soft face and her hair flowed across the tan rug. She looked triumphant there. She looked glorious. Her eyes were rolled back into her head. Pills lay sprawled around her. Her thick framed glasses remained on the night stand.
I apologize, but something like that is not easy to keep bottled up. Now onto her life, how I was involved in it and how it came to its end.
It started in my favorite bar, MacGee's. She was there one night with a friend when I spotted her in a corner booth. You are told in shows and movies that meeting that one person that will change your life forever is like magic. The planets align. A halo of light appears behind their head and the world goes silent. That is not true at all. The bar was still loud and dark, but I spotted her and I still thank whatever the hell power brought us together.
At this point all she had was a mug of beer and reading glasses.
She was a cute-as-a-button type girl with freckles coating the bridge of her tiny nose. She had muddy eyes that widened when she was scared and almost closed when she giggled. Her pale face was framed by dark curls that just reached her shoulders. She called me Flynn because she was a bit hard of hearing. It took me two dates to correct her. The way her mind turned Clint into Flynn still amazes me. I slid into the leather seats and scooted in close to her.
"Don't even," her friend grumbled. "I see you every night coming in and out of here with a different girl on your hips. Please just leave her be".
In the time to come, Claire was an amazing friend that we appreciated, but she got the b**** glare that night. And between sips of beer I learned about this girl. For starters, her name was Molly. I found out later that I was a matter of days older than her. She moved to New York to be an actress. She came from Philadelphia and had a sweet spot for chinchillas. Molly made me share the same information; "My name is Clint. Born and raised in the great city of New York. I am an aspiring algebra teacher. I have a soft spot for poetry". I was tempted to say something dirty but I did not want to open that can of worms during my only chance for a first impression.
"Nice to meet you, Flynn," she chirped and took another smooth sip. She stole a glance at Claire, who then decided to leave. We watched her go in silence. As the bar door slammed behind her, I stared back into Molly's eyes. She stared into mine and we talked for hours about nothing but our futures.

There were three things I learned that night that changed my perception of her. The first is that her acting career had already taken a turn towards fame. She had scored a part as a citizen with a solo part in the Broadway play Wicked. This was after years of off Broadway plays and small theater jobs in Philly. It could have started her career. She never made it to curtain call.
Molly dreamed of settling down in the suburbs with a few children. A swing set in the yard. A grill on the patio. A small garden that is mainly for show because no one actually cares for it. That was her life plan for when her acting career ended. In this case she would work at a local school and teach acting classes. I secretly wanted that life too.
The last was that she was timid. She was very worried and rarely opened up to anyone. Her mugs of beer changed that. It kills me to think that even one mug earlier and I would have never gotten to know her. But that did happen and it is the past.

I saw her almost every night after that. Mostly at the bar where she always had her mug of beer, but sometimes in a nice restaurant or a small cafe. She continued calling me Flynn and I started signing Flynn Owens. She admitted she liked the way Molly Owens sounded. She decided on that as her stage name.
One visit to MacGee's I found Molly sitting in our corner booth with a bottle of water and new glasses perched on her nose. I slid next to her like I did that first night and pecked her cheek. She continued staring forward with glazed over eyes. I think it is pertinent to know that Molly is the only person in the world that does the opposite of getting drunk when she is upset. She drinks nothing but water and coffee. Seeing the crinkled bottle and shredded label told me something was obviously on her mind. I stretched my arm around her shoulder and pulled her close to me. Tears began streaming down her cheeks. She wrapped herself around me. Within seconds she was bawling into my chest. I cradled her in that booth in the back corner of a loud crowded bar that ignored us. We remained this way until Molly pulled away from my body. Her red eyes looked up at me and she explained in gasps.
She explained her visit to the ophthalmologist. He told her about a condition she had. Molly had started with perfect vision until the age of about 18. As she aged a bit, her sight got worse. He said her sight would continue getting worse and at an increasing rate. Within six months Molly would be legally blind. A week or two after that, her eyes would not work at all.
After choking out that story she fell into my lap and cried again. I led her out of the bar with my arm around her shoulders and her sobbing softly. We made our way to her apartment a few blocks south. Once there we sat on her couch and I talked. She whimpered as I retold that first night together. When that was done I went through every time I saw her. When that was over I recalled the current evening. When that was done, I lifted her face and pointed it towards mine.
"I love you, Moll. You are wonderful and perfect and I want to be with you always," I whispered. She cracked a half smile and her eyes softened a little through the new lenses. I kneeled in front of her and pulled a soft velvety box from my blazer pocket. "Molly Wilhelm, marry me. Please. I may not be romantic or perfect, but you are. I want you and only you for the rest of my life".
She cried even more. I am not sure if it was sweet or weird doing that on that type of night, but it worked. She would actually become Molly Owens. She told all her friends it was the best and worst day or her life.

We moved in together. Every few minutes Molly would peer at the ring and shiny diamond dreamily. "I hope they have your eyes and my freckles. Sea blue eyed freckled kids with my hair". She looked up and added with a giggle, "And your a**". What could I say, I had a nice a**. Those were our average conversations at the table. Every day our children would look different except for their lovely butts. That always stayed the same.
We held hands constantly for the first month. Our visits to the eye doctor became more frequent and the prescriptions glasses got stronger. Everything was great until one visit. It was rainy out and we both got soaked to the bone. It seems like that day it hit her that she was really going blind. The glasses were rapidly getting thicker and it freaked Molly out. Earlier that day was the last beer I ever saw her drink.

The falling action was nothing spectacular. Molly cried, I tried to comfort her and she pushed me away. We fought then. We had never fought until she was only a month and a half away from the estimated time that she became blind. I tried my hardest to be understanding, but she was spiraling.
I remember the day perfectly, September twelfth. It was two weeks before Wicked opened. I came home from work and dropped my bag on the ground. I called Molly and got no response. I called out to her again just as I walked into the bedroom of our apartment. Bridal magazines sat askew on the bed and Molly was on the ground. The setting sun streamed through the window onto her face. Her ring remained on her finger. There was no note because she knew I would know. I understood too.
I sat down and cried with my phone in my right hand and her glasses in my left. I called the police, watched my future wife get carried away and went down to the bar. There I found Claire in our corner booth and he honored Molly with a mug of beer and bottle of water.

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