I watched a man slam his third cup of whiskey down on the bar, oblivious to my presence. The room lit enough to see regret on some faces. One of them his.
As the bartender poured another round, I took a seat next to the weary gentleman. I asked for my usual.
There was a long pause before I uttered the words.
“Who is she?” I asked.
“Excuse me?” he cluelessly asked.
“You’re on your fourth drink, and you keep checking your phone because you’re hoping each time it lights up it’s her name. So tell me,” I say without reservations.
“Lizzy. Her name was Lizzy,” he responded. Continuing he adds, “She met me as a broken man. I had nothing to offer. Whatever love I had leftover was worthless. I had no monetary value to show my love, although she didn’t care about that. She wasn’t that kind of woman. To my surprise, she was very down-to-earth for a woman who was as beautiful as she was. Is. She stuck by my side when I was wrong. She cleaned up the mess I was because she saw the potential in me. When I gave her hell she was still heavenly.”
He takes another sip of his whiskey.
Building onto what seemed like a soliloquy he spoke again.
“Her laugh could fill an empty room. Her stare felt like home. I loved how my fingers ran through her long black hair. She sang in the car as if no one was watching. When I found myself crawling through the day, she would send me a message reminding me to breathe in peace. If I was a star in a show, she would be at the front row. When my tears blinded me, she was the one to wipe them. She was the reason for many of my laughs. When everything went wrong, she was my right. She never asked me for a big diamond ring. She never demanded for all of the money in the world.”
His voice shakes.
I took a sip of my drink and carefully approached the infamous question.
“So what did she ask for?”
“Effort. Time. Loyalty. Support.” he bitterly answers.
“Right. So, where did it go wrong?” I was puzzled.
“I gave her nothing. If anything, I gave her the bare minimum. She did everything she could. But I needed more. Wanted more. I don’t deserve her. Every man hopes to find the woman who will take care of him. For a woman who was woman enough to be accountable for her mistakes and her choices. We hope to find a woman who will stay after we drag them through the mud. She was that woman. This story is contradictive, I know. But I still have temptation in the deepest parts of my heart. Or mind. I live for a cheap thrill. I live for the moment and not for the future. I burn the wrong bridges. She loved me three years too long. None of this makes sense to you, and trust me, she still can’t grasp onto the idea either. I like the ladies who risk it for all the wrong reasons. I like those who aren’t sure of themselves. I like when they need me. Lizzy wanted me, but she never needed me. I was a broke man and she was on the top shelf. I’ve broken her fairytale one too many times. Her love is worth more than to be pieces shattered on the floor. Her peace deserves to be protected. Her soul deserves to have genuine joy. I, however, am none of these things. I bring out the worst in her. I bring calamity to her mental being. She doesn’t need me.”
He slid a few bills on the counter.
He got up and put his coat on.
He hauntfully said, “I treated her like an option, and she moved on like it wasn’t one.”
He walked out.
I sat on the barstool pondered by this anecdote.
The bartender hovered over the counter and told me, “He has come here every night for the last five years. He hopes she walks through those doors because she too used to be a regular. It’s how they met. I don’t have the heart to tell him that she invited me to her wedding. Five years ago.”
Megan Hernandez is a junior at the University of North Texas majoring in journalism.