Taletober 5: There’s Always Tonight

Inspired by @emileerudd

“What the hell am I doing?” he thought. “That’s it, I’ve got to go.” If he left now he could be home in time to get a few hours of sleep and that would be enough to get him through tomorrow. People were counting on him and he liked being someone who counted. He needed to get rest, he needed to be sharp.

But when he tried to picture the next day, to visualize everything he had to do and what it would take to get it done, all he could see was her face.

Dozens of bars in the city had similar names and he’d simply ended up at the wrong one.

His friends were someplace across town thinking he’d decided not to show. Thinking he was home getting a good night’s rest, being responsible. “But no, I’m out on the sidewalk pretending to smoke, talking to myself,” he smiled.

Until then he hadn’t even thought about his friends. From the moment he saw her sitting at the bar he hadn’t thought of anything else. Every possible cliché for love at first sight ran through his mind like headlines on the giant ticker in Times Square.

Now he had to think. He couldn’t believe the emotions she made him feel and he didn’t know if he could pull himself away. Everything that had seemed so important earlier in the day now seemed far away, rendered miniature and slightly out of focus in the background. But he also knew what was expected of him.

He paced back and forth, reaching up to tap his lips as he thought, going through the motions from his smoking days. “Ok, that’s it,” he decided. “There are always other nights.” He unconsciously mimed flicking a cigarette butt into the street and turned to head back inside.

Through the doorway he could see her, still sitting at the bar, stirring her drink with a smile. He looked away, trying to find the strength to abandon whatever this was or whatever it could be. But instead he saw the words someone had scrawled on the doorframe and it was the only advice he needed: “Sleep when you’re dead.”