russian spirits, freezing coldPosted: February 6, 2011
The paintings on the wall shift diagonally across his field of vision before jerking back to their original position.
One of them, the portrait of a man no younger than seventy, has eyes pointed at him. Fixed and derisive, they follow his as he loses the battle against a room that won’t stop its spin. This process repeats itself every three seconds as he tries to regain his bearings, clasping a hand against the cold wall, the textured bumps in the paint tickling his fingertips as they grasp for an illusion of stability. He take a deep breath and struggles to exhale nothing more than carbon dioxide. The acid burns the bottom of his throat as he takes staggered steps in what seems to be a forward direction.
An hour later, his hands would be clasped around a scathingly hot volume of coffee held in a vessel of thin porcelain. The callouses that form on his palms as he resists the urge to let go would serve as reminders of the night’s mistakes. But for now, only Russian spirits coursed through his bloodstream, intensifying thoughts, muddling words, and dampening actions.
To him, it seemed as if they were always sitting in abject, miserable silence while a yearning that was once a blanket slowly wraps to a noose; a maddening reminder of the disappointment born from his own inaction. He’d meander through their conversations, listening carefully for her little hints, acknowledging the presence of some underlying truth but doing nothing of it, a stain in the carpet too small to really clean, too large to really ignore. There was a certain inevitability that hid behind his trepidation and her tendency to stay aloof, that if one of them were bold enough to say they loved the other there would undoubtedly be magic. And it sure as hell wouldn’t be him. So instead, he drowns.
Each word that came her voice was enough to shatter his heart. There must be some reason then, that at this very moment, when the room’s incandescent light begins to cascade on the walls around him, melting the colors surrounding his hand, she’s still on his mind. He’s left only with the deafening pound of his pulse against his ear’s drum, the antagonistic stare of a seventy year old man, and his vision a disorienting loop. The yearning for warmth, of her skin and of her soul, wraps around him and even the most remote of possibilities that she shared that same desire was enough to keep his legs upright and barely rigid, just enough for stumbled paces but not quite enough for the illusion of sobriety.
This room is devoid of anyone worthwhile, so he walks, towards a sphere of brass protruding out of the wall. Each motion throws his ten-second conceptions of balance into an entirely new direction as he tries to follow the path she had taken no more than a half hour ago, ten straight fluid ounces ago. He wants nothing more than to release what’s been welling in the depths of his throat and chest. His hand meets the cold metal and he uses the weight of his heavy frame to twist the knob the direction it would yield.
He trips outside, greeted by a song of snow and air, and wanders alone, unnerved and upset. Eventually he falls to the ground, two steps away from a street, watching the flurries spiral down towards his body and trying their best to accumulate. Hour-long minutes pass inconsequentially, making it increasingly difficult for him to stand. Sitting up on the curb, he buries his eyes into his sleeve, lamenting how he knows she will be the one that never does. The wind cruelly mocks his cheeks, slicing them and slapping him into submission towards the weary cold. For now he is numb, left with nothing more than the warmth remaining in his pockets.
A beacon of safety in the shape of a dimly lit ember attached to nicotine and tar is moments away, staring at the dark and increasingly disheveled figure in her foreground. She had stepped out only for a cigarette or three, only for a few moments of solace and thought. He might be completely oblivious, but she isn’t.
They were inevitable.