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Slice of Life A Drink on a Thursday Night

  1. Change
  2. Friendship
  3. Loneliness
  4. Pain


oi oi
Chilled air wafted through the window, pushed by the force of a silent, incessant rain. The bite of winter was beginning to set into the lapping feeling of air against skin, but its teeth were still dull. Cassandra closed her eyes, hoping to catch the sound of even a single raindrop slip up in its silent descent and make an audible patter. There was nothing she could glean but the heavy slough of silence.

She took a breath and swirled around the dark, sweet smelling wine in her cup. “I think it’s funny how no one really talks about emotional pain the way they do physical.” Cassandra said, her gaze glancing briefly at Marley across from her. “I mean sure, there’s the obvious reason, physical pain is physical. You have the nerve reaction. Usually some sort of visual cue if it’s really serious.”

“Okay,” Marley shifted her position by the window, resting her arm on an uplifted knee as if to say ‘I’m game’ to Cassandra’s sudden topic of conversation. “So what about emotional pain then?” Marley asked. She reached into her pocket to pull out a cigarette, cupping her hand around it to avoid the water logged breeze. The orange light gently illuminated the side of her face, a surprisingly warm hue in contrast with their surroundings.

Cassandra shrugged. “I don’t really know. I don’t think anyone really knows, that’s why no one talks about it. It just sits there in your chest and sinks. Festers. Without you even knowing it.” She set her drink down on the window sill. A car passed by in the alley below them, the tires giving off a soft hum as they rolled across the pavement. Bright, sparking light from the car’s headlights bounced playfully along the cracked, uneven pavement.

“You don’t really notice it at all either. Well, not initially. At first, everyone does. That famous, hurtful sting that clenches up your chest and makes your throat all hot and sore.”

Marley huffed. “I thought that was what we were talking about.” Her eyes widened with an air of playfulness as she took a drag of her cigarette. “I thought that was the only type of emotional pain there was. Just variations of that same thing.”

“I mean, sure, but I’m talking about the ache that lingers even after you think it’s over. I mean, that’s what gets you. At least with physical pain you know when you’ve healed through it. You stop feeling the pain and your body focuses on other things. Emotional pain, when it lingers, it–it has this way of lessening things.”

Cassandra picked at her nails. She was struggling to find her way through this thought. “Making things duller, less exciting. Colors fade, noises get quieter. You don’t feel as much about things. Like the opinions you held onto so strongly before, they don’t seem as dire or worth fighting for.” She paused. “You sit around more too. Listlessly. Letting your thoughts churn slowly.” She picked up her drink once more and swirled around the wine at the bottom. The now warm, sweet smell wafted up to her face, making her stomach turn over slightly.

Marley trained her gaze outside the window. Her expression was unreadable through the thin veil of smoke that curled from the cigarette still burning slowly in her hand. “It turns memories sour.” She said quietly. “Even ones not attached to the person who caused that pain. It’s like a disease, seeping into other memories and tinting them darker. It just turns them sour.”

“Yeah,” Cassandra sighed. “It creeps into your life and sits there. Not enough to prevent you from living, even living a happy life. But it’s still there. Slowing you down, slowing your thoughts down. I hate that about it. I hate that no one ever talks about it. We all just kind of experience it and let it stay in our lives.” She clenched her jaw slightly. “I mean, what can you even do about something like that?”

Cassandra tried to imagine what it looked like, unkempt emotional pain, never talked about and shoved off into the dark to grow. She liked to think it was like bathing in acid, each part of her getting eaten away, layer by layer, until all that was left was stark, clean bone.

Marley sighed. She turned her gaze over to Cassandra and gave her a helpless shrug. “I don’t really think you can do anything about it, really. You just have to let it stay. Hope that you don’t rack up too much inside that it becomes too heavy to carry.”

Cassandra swallowed hard at that thought. She quickly turned her gaze out at the street below, letting the cool mist from the rain soothe the hot blood that began to creep up her neck and into her cheeks. Tears began to burn her eyes. “That’s what I’m worried about. I have this–this tendency, to remember everything that anyone has ever done to hurt me. Every time I might have said something wrong, every expression that shows annoyance or dislike. Every single time someone has done something negative to me, I remember. I remember, and I feel it and I carry it with me.”

Marley’s expression softened. She placed a hand on Cassandra’s knee reassuringly, but Cassandra didn’t even notice it.

“I’m so scared that eventually, I’ll remember too much. It’ll all pile up and become so heavy that I’ll just break. I won’t be able to carry it anymore.” As much as she tried holding it back, a lone tear slipped down her cheek, hot and angry. Cassandra wiped it away with a harsh, quick movement, the action leaving a streak of red across her face.

Marley was silent for a while. She looked down at the street below. The silence of the room and the white noise of the rain flowed between them smoothly, separating them from each other in a seemingly endless space of noise and air. Cassandra leaned her head against the wall, hoping that the caving feeling in her chest would stabilize and pass. It seemed like each second dragged sluggishly by, as if treading through thick murky water to get to its destination. Eventually, Marley turned to her and smiled softly.

“You give it to other people. You let other people take some of that weight, ones you know won’t give back more than they’ve taken. That’s the only way.”

Cassandra stared at her silently. The thought paced back and forth through her mind as she tried to make sense of it. A faint smile slid across her face as another tear fell down her cheek. “Are you saying you’ll carry some of my weight?”

Marley dipped her head to the side in thought. She laughed, the joyous sound clearing as much of the heavy tension of the air as it could manage. “Yeah,” she replied “if you’ll let me.”
Cassandra smiled once more. She turned towards the window, watching the rain as it continued to run in streaks through the air. She let the silence take its place between them once more. Only this time, it didn’t push them apart. In the empty space, Cassandra could feel Marley’s warmth and hear the soft puffs of air that she let out with each breath. They were sharing the silence together, dividing it into manageable pieces that the other could bear. Nothing more needed to be said.

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