I light up a cigarette and watch as the heavy rain comes down in sheets. It’s the kind of cold you can smell as the wind catches the scent of boardwalk treats, funnel cakes, french fries, cotton candy. My eyes travel up the twisted side of a bright blue roller coaster track as it winds up and up into the empty air. Too early for the kiddos to be crawling and screaming all over everything.
It’s quiet in the little seaside town. Only half the restaurants are open yet, the season timidly begun. Even the waves are almost nonexistent against the beach. Tucked safely underneath a dimly lit overhang adjacent to the grand old hotel, I take another drag of my smoke and notice the sky is a wild deeply carved gray behind the darkest heavy clouds. Storm skies are infinitely more interesting than clear ones. I’ve always loved the rain more than the sun.
My mind drifts over the things he said earlier. The things he didn’t. Neither of us did. He’s out hunting us down some stronger coffee than the shit they provide in sad limp bags in the hotel. Good beds tho, and a very large fridge in which now sits a half drunk bottle of non-alcoholic chardonnay and a small cup of unopened yogurt. I wanted so badly to get away. He never disappoints. He can find the best of the best of everything, especially the stuff I’m too shy to ask for. He’s always thought bolder of himself than I dared think of me.
I crush the cigarette into the rigid side of one of those tall cigarette collector bins they set out for the rest of us. I remember when you could smoke in bars. It was fucking fantastic. That’s where we met. Night after booze wrecked night. The laughter and the sex and all the other plastic highs. We have each other now, still. Minus the bullshit. Minus the big and little falsities. A lot has fallen away from me in ninety-four days, like tender meat tumbling easily off the bone.
I used to let people have access to me in a way that warped my sense of worth. Access to my mind, my love, my body, my attention, my loyalty, my secrets. People who did not deserve it. Back then everyone was better than me in my imagination. Getting sober has ended all that with a swiftness I could not have been prepared for but I’m grateful nonetheless. I’m still learning, of course, but that got real clear real fast.
He appears from around the corner, soaked and carrying two large cups of dark roast black coffee. I smile a little because I feel happy in a content kind of way. I smile because I mean it. And far off in the distance, sunlight claws its slender pink fingers against the horizon. The day will change. It will become very shimmery bright and, for reasons inexplicable, I will not mind in the least.
Photo taken by me while wandering the very old crooked seaside hotel.