The lid of my laptop gave a click as I closed it and rose from the couch. I began slowly ambling to the door, trying to find the time and space to mentally prepare myself for social interaction. I wasn’t expecting company tonight, and I hoped that whoever it was would be easy to get rid of.
“Hello?” I asked cautiously as I cracked it open, mentally running through the list of people it could be this late at night.
“Can I come in?” His familiar voice answered though it cracked as he spoke, making me wonder if something was wrong.
Without a word, I opened the door all the way and ushered him in from the cold with a swift motion. I crossed my arms and pulled at the sleeves of my sweater as I tried to stay warm.
He tapped the tips of his boots outside the doorway and then quickly stepped in onto the welcome mat, slipping them off to reveal his black, hole-filled socks.
“I think you need some new ones.” I teased him as I gestured to the holes.
“Yeah, yeah.” He half-heartedly shrugged me off.
I motioned for him to follow me and pulled out a seat for him at my kitchen bar.
“So…” My words trailed off briefly as I disappeared into the fridge to search for some drinks, “Aren’t you supposed to be somewhere?”
The two bottles rested in my hands as I closed the fridge with my hip and listened intently.
“Yeah,” He shrugged, giving me a short explanation as I walked to the bar, “I had a date with her tonight.”
“I’m guessing it didn’t go well, considering you are not at her place or yours right now.” The seal of one of the bottles broke as I struggled with the bottle opener, making me grit my teeth as I replied sarcastically.
The bottle scraped on the table as I sent his sliding towards him. He grabbed it and took a long, slow drink.
“That bad, eh?” I asked, taking slow, small sips from my own bottle.
He sighed, tipping back his bottle again. I watched the dark liquid flow out of the bottle and into his throat as he gulped it down.
“Maybe you should slow down.” I offered, concern creeping into my voice.
He glared at me in response but put the bottle down for a moment, much to my relief.
The room was silent as I waited for him to tell me why exactly he decided to show up at my apartment this late when he was supposed to be on a date with his self-professed “true love“.
Exasperation filled my voice as I decided to confront this situation head on, “Do you love her?”
“What does it matter?” He responded gruffly, his breath smelling strongly of the alcohol he’d consumed.
I aimlessly spun around on my bar stool, trying to bite my tongue. This hadn’t been the first time I’d been there for him with this girl, but I couldn’t bring myself to honestly hope they’d work out. Honestly, I didn’t like her, and I didn’t think she was good enough for him.
“Forgive me for saying,” I took a big swig of my own drink to get the nerve to speak my mind, “But you don’t seem like someone in love.”
We locked eyes as I finished my drink, “And if you aren’t in love with her, why are you still with her?”
At first, his expression was blank, but it quickly flashed anger, frustration, sadness, and stone-cold seriousness.
He slowly drew out his words as he spoke to me with a low, raspy voice and a fire in his eye, “I could ask the same of you.”