Francis left the hotel bar and walked
through the rain-soaked streets as though searching, though with no
particular aim or goal. He could go to another bar somewhere else
now, or find a quiet café in which to sulk until dawn. The bar at
the hotel had been too friendly, too inviting. He wanted to be
intrusive with his brooding.
And what of Annabel? he thought, which
sent warmth to his face in many forms: first, the warmth of love, of
romance, of comfort; then the warmth of anger, of shame, of agony.
Love always won, always wins. She'd left him not long ago, but the
sting of her departure loomed over him. She had taken so long to
finally leave that it caused Francis no relief when she did, and no
amount of his protestation would cause her to stay. She left in the
way that sloths descend trees: slowly and with sharp claws.
Francis rounded a corner and the word
“failure” entered his mind. He had failed and been failed.
Annabel was his life's goal, his dream. He had spent more than half
his life pursuing her, in one way or another, until finally they were
wed, and only a couple years ago. Their second anniversary was one of painful
revelation, as Annabel's indiscretions could no longer be contained.
They had always leaked out slowly, in tiny droplets, but now a single
finger could not keep the dam whole. The trickle became a stream
became a deluge. Francis was already a scored pane of glass before
the force of the month-long affair shattered him completely. The
pieces scattered far and wide, and he had no means by which to pick
them all up himself. Annabel had been his closest friend, the only
one who could possibly help reassemble him. Now he was alone, broken,
and all spread out. So he wandered from bar to bar, finding a piece
here, a shard there. In this way, he could make himself whole again.
Or die drinking.
(13 Dec 13)