I found myself sitting at my desk this morning wondering about the guy I’d passed on my way there. At five past nine he’d been walking away from the city, drinking a pre-mixed can of JD and Coke. Was he, I thought, a shift worker trying to smooth out the bitterness of his circadian rhythms before a well deserved sleep, or had it been Hobson’s choice; all there’d been in reach this morning? No bag, hands otherwise empty; he swigged steadily from the single can that surely must have been opened only moments before.
I thought about him so much that I went to the supermarket to check. Three hundred and thirty millilitres. Thirty three centilitres. Two pounds a can and five percent proof. One point seven units of caffeinated alcohol. This is not a morning drink. This is not a just before bed drink. It’s not a just-the-one drink. This is a getting-ready-to-go-out drink, a wake-me-up-before-you-go-go drink. And yet, there he was, a solitary figure with a solitary can, on a grubby September morning with spots of rain in the air.
The sour tang of a decade of night sweats rose from the pillow.
His hands were nut brown and deeply lined; outdoor hands, prematurely aged by strong sun and salted wind. But not working hands; his cuticles and nails were so neatly kept that each shone like a polished coral coin, the pink stark against the dark of his skin.
The afternoon after the morning before.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this fucking Wednesday on a Wednesday.
I mean, just like everyone else I get a jolt of excitement when the spine of a notebook lines up with the edge of a desk, but I’m not the kind of weirdo who keeps nudging it till it does.
I listened to their gleaming chatter, watched their eyes begin to slip and slide. I saw the needy sips of water, felt their knees begin to jump and sway. Oh how I’d missed this.
The music got a little brighter, the sky a little richer, the lawn a little sweeter, the laughter a little more mine.
The smell of skunk mingled with wood smoke, sea salt and sun block.
By everyone else’s definition she loved him. Just not her own.